I choosen to dedicate a page also for the Chinese cars, in spite of the obvious differences between the China and the Eastern countries, because the China was a consistent part of the Communist block, with several common features with USSR and others. I try, on this page, to make a short history (with the informations that i have); a good list of related links is http://www.grupstal.nl/chinesecars.htm , dedicated to the Chinese cars sites.
Chinese cars of Soviet and American inspiration
Until the early '90s, the car in China was reserved especially to State organizations, with a lower diffusion even in comparison with the Eastern countries, where the private transport, in spite of several difficulties, obtained a decent diffusion since '70s. Typical sign of this situation, was the car in the first, second third and fourth pics above (and also in the opening photo): the "Hongqi", the limousine of the Chinese presidents. The Hongqi "CA 770" (1958), like the Russian ZIL, was a limo totally inspired to American realizations: V8 engine, 5700 cc, 220 hp, automatic two-speed gearbox. Some exemplar of this car, was equipped with a very kitsch tapestry, purple with gold borders...perhaps because the Chinese presidents has still ambitions of emperor (unfortunately for the Chinese people). In the fifth pic above, the last evolution of this car, called "CA 7560" (1998): i think that's still produced in some exemplar, although the factory, now, produces Volkswagen-Audi models under license (see below).
A Chinese car slightly smaller than the "Hongqi", was the Shanghai "SH 760" (first, second and third pics above, also a pick-up version). This car has a 6-in line engine, 2200 cc, 90 hp, 130 km/h; the gearbox was manual, with 4 speeds, the wheel drive, obviously, is rear. Produced since 1960, the Shanghai "SH 760" remains in production until the early '90s, when also this Chinese factory (like the Hongqi) became a maker of VW models under license. In the fourth pic, instead (kindly sent by Jaime Amaro, Portugal), a quite mysterious car: the "Feng Huang" (that stands for "Phoenix" in Chinese), always produced by the same factory, in the 1959. According to several sources, it was powered by a V8 with 150 hp, or by the 2300 cc. four cylinders engine of the Humber "Hawk", with 78 hp (also the platform was probably the same of the Humber). Probably, even the Chineses don't remember this car!
Another car produced since several years, is the "Beijing", an off-road vehicle derived from the Russian UAZ "469", with the same engine, 4 cylinders 2500 cc, 71 hp. Initially reserved to the Chinese Army (first pic above, Beijing "BJ-212", 1965), this car was sold, since the early '90s, also for the civil market: up (second pic), the last version, called "BJ-2020 Kuangcao ST", with several improvements to engine, transmission, brakes. In the third pic, another car: the Wuhan "2030 X" (1989), a SUV with a design slightly inspired to Japanese realizations, but with the same frame/engine group of UAZ (the Wuhan was available also with the only rear wheel drive transmission).
Above, others images of the current Beijing "BJ-2020" (in the third pic, a pick-up 2WD version; in the fourth and fifth pics, two recent versions, called "BJ 2020 T" e "BJ 2020 TY"): differently from the UAZ "469", this 4x4 was updated about the look (alloy wheels, metal paints, etc.) and the technical parts (deformable steering column in case of collision, front disk brakes, not present on the UAZ); now, it seems even pleasant! This car was exported in few exemplars also to the USA, with the "Fuqi" brand. The Beijing "BJ 2020" remains the last Chinese car engineered in collaboration with the USSR.
There is also a car unknown for me: it's the car in the pic above. I know only the name, Beijing "BJ 750" (produced by the same factory of the off-road vehicles) and the year of production, the 1978. I don't know the technical data (but it seems derivated from some Japanese car, as Toyota Crown or some Nissan). If somebody will give me other informations about this car, i will be very glad!
Chinese cars of European derivation
Anyway, the current Chinese production is composed especially by Japanese models produced under license...but i don't want to say about these models: the Toyota Corolla, since his birth, was produced in several countries, always with the same features! The Chinese production of old European models is much more interesting: the car in the pics above, for example, is the first version of the Seat "Ibiza"...but now it's called Yuejin "Nanja"! The car -except for the front part- is substantially unchanged, also the famous "System Porsche" engine of the pre-Volkswagen version!
...and the commercial vehicle in the two pics above, is the old Austin "Maestro", now produced in China and called "Etsong"! Seeing again in production cars forgotten with the time, is very surprising!
Sometime, old European cars are produced in new versions, with models never produced in Europe. The car in the four pics above is called Shenlong "Fukang", and it's the old Citroen "ZX", but in a new sedan version, never produced in France! In the fourth pic, we can see also a newer version with long wheel base.
Another old Seat model is currently produced by another Chinese factory: it's the Seat "Toledo" first model, now called Saic "Chery". One of these cars, that's only an outdated model for the European people, for a Chinese driver is like a Rolls Royce...
...especially the car in the photo up! In China, since several years, the old Audi "100" is produced. Now, it's called Hongqi "CA 7200", and is the limousine of the Chinese government, replacing the old '50s American-style sedans. In the third pic above, a new restyled version (always on the base of the old Audi 100!).
Up, the normal version of the Hongqi "CA-7200" (with 1.8 engine, 90 hp), another limousine version, and another restyled version, called Hongqi "CA-7202" (it not seems a car of 20 years ago...although the Audi 100, in Europe, was 10 years more modern than the other cars of the same type!)
The Shanghai "SH 760" was replaced by another German model: the old Volkswagen "Santana", best known as "Passat" second series of the '80s (up, first pic). This car was realized in China also in a new van version (second pic), never seen in Europe! In the third pic, the last version of the Chinese "Passat/Santana", called now "Santana 2000", slightly restyled, but always based of the old version of the German car. It's very surprising to see that even the old VW "Jetta" is still in production in China, with new headlights and grille (third pic)!
Recent Chinese-engineered models
Above, we can see a Chinese car totally new: the Beijing "Heroic", based on the engine/transmission of the Jeep "Cherokee" (model previously produced under license). The "Heroic", launched in the 2000, is one of the few Chinese cars designed indipendently (although the engine is american, and the coachwork is probably realized in collaboration with Western designers). It's not bad...although the old Russian- derived jeeps are more personal!
Another car totally realized in China, is the "Zhonghua" ("China" in Chinese language), a new brand that will produce the two cars in the three pics above: a van, and a sedan, designed by Giugiaro. These car are equipped with totally new Chinese engines, 4 cylinders, for 190 km/h and a fuel consumption of 6,5 l/100 km (data about the sedan version). These models are not technically derived from western or jap cars: the "Zhonghua", if produced, will be the first car "totally" chinese!
Also the cars in the pics above are almost totally Chinese. The minivan in the first pic, called with the very hard name of "Songhuajiang Zhongyi", has a design by Pininfarina (!), and is powered by Suzuki engines (970 and 1050 cc), therefore its not properly "Chinese"; but the car in the second and third pics is a new project. It's called Hafei "Lobo" ("lobo" stands for "treasure on the road" in Chinese), it was designed -like the minivan- by Pininfarina (also the floorpan was engineered by the Italian designer), and it has a new Chinese engine, 1075 cc, 47 hp: indeed, it's an enough modest power for a modern 1100 engine. This car will be produced soon, differently from the beautiful Hafei "HF Fantasy" (fourth pic), a static prototype of coupè, characterized by some interesting solution, as the anti-fog lights placed at the sides of the windscreen.
Another example of car engineered in China, is the red car in the first pic above, produced by the Taisun-Huoban: it's a taxi with plastic coachwork, internal space-frame, and with a 2200 cc. diesel engine (probably of Japanese derivation). In the second and third pics above, we can see a car not realized in China, but specifically realized for the Chinese people. It's the Chrysler "CCV", launched in the 1997 as working prototype. This car has a series of features for the maximum economy of production, with an engine very simple and reliable (800 cc, 36 hp, twin-cylinder, air-cooled), a plastic coachwork without paint (the color is incorporated into the plastic material), easy maintaining and very low consumption and emissions. The Chrysler "CCV" is a real, new Citroen "2CV", ideal for the mass-motorization in China. But, unfortunately, this car is still a prototype: the Chinese people that can buy a car, also cheap, is very few, and the current production of japanese models under license (Honda "Accord", etc.) shows that the car market is still reserved only to a little number of rich Chineses. Probably, the Chinese governement -and not only the Chinese governement...- has choosed for the China as poor producer nation, and not as consumer nation. One of the big contraddiction of this State, that sells products to the Western markets, but has still the death penalty and a cruel regime that violates the basilar human rights.
Some pic taken from www.motorbase.com, http://www.grupstal.nl/chinesecars.htm