By on January 20, 2012

China’s first mass-produced military jeep was made by Chongqing Chang’an, a predecessor of today’s Chang’an Automotive, a joint venture partner of Suzuki, PSA, and Ford.

The Chang’an Changjiang 46 was a Chinese copy of the American Willys Jeep.

Changjiang is the brand name, it means Yangtze River, which runs through Chongqing, the hometown of Chang’an. Production of the Changjiang 46 started in 1959, and ended in 1963.

The numbers were small: 38 in 1959 rising to 1390 when production ended in 1963.

In 1963, the production of the Changjiang 46 moved to Beijing, as per the decree of the highest political powers in the capital. All factory equipment and materials were moved by river to Shanghai, then up north via sea to Tianjin, and finally by road to Beijing.

The factory was then built up all over again and became the predecessor of today’s Beijing Auto Works.

The man in the picture is Xu Guangqi, born in 1932. He was responsible for the production of the 46 and said he cried when he saw his cherished 46 tools disappear into the mist over Yangtze River, on their way to Beijing. Mr. Xu was not invited to come along…

Tech specs of this rugged beauty: Weight 1150 kg, maximum load 440 kg, it could carry six people including the driver. Power came from a 2.2 liter 4-cylinder water-cooled 4-stroke carburetted engine, good for 115 km/h top speed. Alleged fuel consumption was 13.7 liters per 100km.

Today, there aren’t many Changjiang 46′s left. One stands in a military museum in Chongqing, where Mr. Xu takes good care of it.

Dutchman Tycho de Feyter runs Carnewschina.com, a blog about cars in China, from Beijing, China. He also collects die-cast models of Chinese cars.

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