Let people go to Chengdu to satisfy prurient desires. I went to Chengdu to visit the Sanhe Classic Car Museum. I found a car that was really for the chosen few, a fantastic Hongqi CA773 Parade Car. The parade car was based on the CA773 sedan which was made from 1969 until 1976. This particular parade car was made in 1974.
Dash first because it is almost perfect. Giant steering wheel. Shiny but not too-shiny wood. Instrument cluster in top condition. Bench in cream colored leather looks very sleek. This CA773 was restored by Sanhe and as usual they made it better than new.
A badge of Tiananmen gate under the speedo, which tops at 200km/h. Real world top speed of this heavy parade cars was 120 at most. The odometer stands at 3,228 kilometers. A Hongqi (Red Flag) can easily do half a million.
Golden sunflower in the center of the steering wheel. Around the golden sunflower three flags, meaning: ‘Socialist Construction’, ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘People’s Commune’, which were the most important pillars under Mao’s destructive policies… The flags are painted gold in this CA773, while originally they where socialist-red, one example of the over restoration of this car.
This is how it should be:
Picture taken in a Hongqi CA770, see this post.
Period radio embedded in wood, controls for ventilation low in dash. The CA773 was basically a short wheelbase version of the Hongqi CA770. Wheelbase shrunk 40 centimeter to 3420. Not that short indeed, length is 5,500 centimeters (CA770: 5,590) and weight is 2,360 kilo. This CA773 Parade Car is one of the shortest China produced.
The CA770 in turn was based on the 1950′s Chrysler CA 70 for which First Auto Works (FAW) obtained the rights in the early 1960′s, FAW is the owner of the Hongqi brand. The engine for the CA770 and CA773 came from Chrysler as well, a mighty 5.6 liter V8 with 215hp.
Period clock. Parade cars were used for parading the highest Chinese leaders during celebrations and for riding visiting foreign dignitaries around. How many of these CA773 Parade Cars were made is sadly unknown, but definitely no more than a handful.
Note handle bar above the front bench. Officials could hold the bar with one hand and wave with the other to the adoring masses. There is enough room in the back for two. If the leaders were tired of waving, they could sit down on the sofa-like bench. There was no roof, when it rained, underlings climbed on the back with umbrellas to keep their dear leaders dry.
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.