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Retro

Anyone remember the 1996 Proton Satria-based Stevens Cipher Coupe?

You do? Great, because the only one in the world is about to come up for sale…

Published: 13 Oct 2022

How often do you get the opportunity to buy a car that’s a complete one-off? Think about it – we’re not talking a one-off paint job and some ‘bespoke stickers’. And happily we’re nowhere near the realms of the £12m Bugatti La Voiture Noire either. 

What we have here is a 1996 Stevens Cipher Coupe. Or to be more precise – the 1996 Stevens Cipher Coupe. 

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Fancy some background? Well, in the 1990s car designer Professor Tony Stevens was approached by the Tuwin Corporation of Malaysia. They wanted to develop a sporty new car using Proton/Mitsubishi running gear, and Stevens had previous in developing the Cipher Roadster, with examples based on Reliant Kittens and Lada Samaras. Did someone say sporty? 

Anyway, Stevens designed the Cipher Coupe for the project and the plan was to build 50,000 examples on Proton production lines, but just one prototype was completed before the Malaysian economy collapsed and the deal fell through. 

So, what you have here is a small, 1990s two-door coupe that (in our opinion at least) looks rather splendid, but is based on a Proton Satria and uses a 1.8-litre four-pot Mitsubishi engine. 

Fancy owning it? Well, it’s been in storage since the late 1990s, but Stevens has now decided to sell, and you can buy the thing over on Car & Classic with an auction kicking off next week. You’ll even get all the body panel mouldings thrown in for free should you ever have a ding that won’t buff out. Oh, and the windscreen is from a 1995 Renault 5.

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There are proper period Recaro seats inside too, although the dash just come straight from the Satria. Apparently everything except the fuel gauge currently works though, so it sure is reliable. Just try not to look at the panel gaps if you have a love for build quality. This was a prototype after all…

Images: Car & Classic

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