It’s not just Panthers that get some love around these parts. TTAC contributors Murilee Martin and Tycho de Feyter have both expressed admiration for the Hongqi CA770 “Red Flag” limousines made by China’s FAW (formerly First Automotive Works) and used as state automobiles from the mid 1960s into the 1980s. A few years back, FAW introduced the massive, 21 ft long Hongqi L9 (aka CA7600L), with styling heavily influenced by the vintage Red Flag limos. Since then, a slightly shorter version, the L7, has been used for foreign heads of state when visiting China. Last year the L7 went on sale to the public for the first time when a Red Flag dealership opened in Beijing’s elite Jinbao shopping district. Now, even a greater number of wealthy Chinese will be able to show up government officials in their mere Audi A6s. At the recent Beijing auto show FAW introduced yet a smaller version of the limousine, the L5, to the retail market and businessman Wang Zhonghua, who owns a chain of furniture malls in China, paid $4.9 million yuan, about 800,000 U.S. dollars, for the first one.
The L5 is still a large car, 5,555 mm (218.7″) long with a 3,435 mm (135.2″) wheelbase. It’s powered by the same 408 hp six liter V12 engine as in the bigger Red Flag cars. The V12 is backed by a six speed automatic transmission. Inside is white leather, aluminum, and wood, along with multiple flatscreens and reclining seats for the buyers, who will likely be riding in the back.
Tycho, who graciously let us use these photos from Car News China, says that the target customer is a patriotic Chinese businessman who is bored with Rolls-Royce Phantoms and Bentley Mulsannes. If you’re one of those folks, or if you want something impressive to have when you’re at your pied a terre in Beijing (there are no export plans at the moment), you can expect to wait about three months for delivery, since the cars are handmade.
The expansion of the Hongqi Red Flag lineup is to be expected. FAW invested over $300 million to overhaul the brand. Since the 2009 revival of the brand, Hongqi has delivered over 500 Red Flag limos to government bodies in China. Whether patriotism will overcome the stigma that domestic brands seem to carry in the retail Chinese market remains to be seen.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS