PETALING JAYA - The Proton Wira, which has little value in the used car market, is surprisingly a hot item among thieves.
Last year, statistics showed this model was number one on the stolen cars list. A total of 654 cars were reported stolen.
General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) chief executive Mark Lim said the cars were definitely stolen for the parts.
"We believe the stolen vehicles were cannibalised and the parts sold as production of spare parts for this model has been stopped and the parts are difficult to obtain in the market," he said in an interview with The Star.
A Proton spare parts dealer in Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur said many of the Wira's interior items are no longer in production.
These include the dashboard, instrument panel, control panels, cushions, speedometer, handbrake lever, steering and other smaller items inside the car.
"The parts are scattered and difficult to find in the market. Even if they are available, the items could be the last few from the old stock."
He said many Proton Wira spare parts were becoming more difficult to find as the items were no longer in production.
The industry, he said, had been told by Proton Wira spare parts manufacturers that the company planned to cease the production of parts for this model by the year's end as it is no longer economically viable to make it.
The only option, he said, was to find the spare parts at the "potong-kereta" outlets. Proton Wira was produced between early 1993 and June 2009.
In its 16 years production, 952,216 units were sold. It has been estimated that at least 85 per cent of the models are still on the road.
A second-hand car dealer, James Lim, said a Proton Wira in good condition could fetch between RM2,000 and RM4,500 (S$679 and S$1,626) each, depending on the year the car was manufactured and its model - either automatic or manual, hatchback or saloon.
"The value of the model offered by second-hand dealers is definitely much lower than the market price. Some dealers are only offering as much as RM1,000 for the model."
He said many second-hand dealers were reluctant to trade this model as they found it difficult to dispose of the vehicles as buyers have to pay cash for the car.
"The model is too old, spare parts are difficult to find and banks have refused loans. Even many insurance companies would not want to insure the vehicles. If they do, Proton Wira car owners have to pay a higher premium and additional loading for it," he said.
He said the model had been tagged as "high-risk cars for the second-hand market".
However, a Sungai Besi junkyard operator, who only wanted to be identified as Lim, said the model still had value, either as scrap metal or second-hand parts.
A Proton Wira could fetch between RM5,000 and RM7,000 if the vehicle was cannibalised.
The gearbox and engine alone can fetch between RM1,000 and RM2,500 each, depending on its model and year the vehicle is manufactured.
"The speedometer and other gadgets on the dashboard can fetch good prices as many are no longer or easily available in the market," he said.
The entire original seats, if in good condition, could be disposed of for RM200 a set.
The junkyard operator said Proton Wira spare parts were considered a hot item in the second-hand market as there are still many cars of this model on the road.
"It was one of the robust cars, where many of its parts and engines were directly imported from Japan, to be assembled locally when it was first introduced to the market."