It’s one of those Tuesday afternoons here in Beijing. The air is barely breathable, and somewhere, a hammer drill is duking it out with a concrete ceiling. Time for another installment of Tycho’s Illustrated History Of Chinese Cars. Today we have a very interesting Chinese car. It’s a 1983 Dodge 600 sedan, dressed-up as a Hongqi CA750F. How did it get into China?
In 1987, U.S. production of the Dodge 600 came to an end. Not able to find a third world subsidiary that would take the hand-me-down toolings, Chrysler sold the production line for the 2.2 liter Kl4 engine to First Auto Works, or FAW. FAW is the owner of the Hongqi brand, a.k.a. Red Flag. FAW and Chrysler also talked about a much bigger deal where Chrysler would sell the complete Dodge 600 production line to China. FAW expressed interest in using the line, and the engine, for a new generation of Hongqi luxury sedans.
To see whether things would work out, FAW made two Hongqi-branded prototypes in 1987, based on two imported Dodge 600′s. FAW changed the grill and front lights, added the famous red flag-ornament on the hood, and called it the Hongqi CA750F.
FAW also made one more prototype based on a stretched Dodge 600, that car was called the Hongqi CA760. FAW liked the results very much, but in the end the deal never happened, thanks to Volkswagen…
FAW started producing small batches of the Audi 100 from 1988 under a deal with Audi, this eventually became the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture that was founded in 1991. Audi and Volkswagen didn’t want another car company around. FAW had to choose. It was simple: Chrysler just wanted to sell, Volkswagen-Audi wanted to invest. FAW kicked Chrysler out. That was the end for the Dodge-based Hongqi CA750F and CA760.
FAW however still had the 2.2 Chrysler engine. They used it to power various Hongqi-branded cars that were based on… the Audi 100 from the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture.
FAW indeed made another deal with Volkswagen so they could use the Audi 100 platform for that new Hongqi luxury sedan they still wanted to make. Since FAW already had the Chrysler 2.2 they didn’t need any Audi engine. So here in China, Chrysler and Audi technology found each other in a Hongqi, back in the 1980′s.
For even stranger Audi-Chrysler bastards children, see my earlier post on the Hongqi CA1021.
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.