Tycho's Illustrated History Of Chinese Cars: The Beijing Dongfeng BM021 Tricycle, A Special Story

Tycho de Feyter
by Tycho de Feyter
tycho s illustrated history of chinese cars the beijing dongfeng bm021 tricycle a

While on holiday in the great city of Nandaihe in Hebei province, I took a few pictures of a tired, old tricycle. Back home in Beijing, I completely forgot about it until I went through my holiday pictures a few days ago, actually looking for a car completely different. The old tricycle caught my attention again, and this time I decided to research the damn thing. Well, I found this oldie was an old neighbor …

An incredibly beautiful logo up front. This tricycle is the Beijing Dongfeng BM021. It was made by the Beijing Motorcycle Factory, part of Beijing Auto Works, in the 1960′s and 1970′s. The factory was located in the Dongzhimen area in Beijing, by that time on the outskirts of the city, mostly farmland and a few factories.

Today, Dongzhimen is considered to be part of the center of the city with huge shopping malls, high rise apartment buildings and the biggest bus and subway hub in Beijing. I know all that because I live there now, right in the center of Dongzhimen, close to the Second Ring Road. This proud old tricycle and me have a connection.

The Beijing Dongfeng BM021 Tricycle (no connection with today’s Dongfeng Motor) was made for distribution of small goods inside big cities. It was used as a cheap taxi as well. Max load was 270kg. The machine on the pictures was made in the 1970′s.

For tech specs, I found where the power came from: a single-cylinder air-cooled two-stroke 250cc engine rated at 12hp. There was no electric starter and no reverse gear, power went by chain to the rear wheels.

Door art. Door-handle very nicely crafted as well.

Now, old pictures:

Beijing in the 1960′s. Around here, that’s a few centuries ago. The cop gives way to an early example of the BM021, with a round head-light.

Early BM021 again. Fitted with a hard-top with windows, likely the taxi-version.

BM021 from the 1960′s, note head light, mirrors are also different. This one seems factory fresh; tires, paint and cabin-cover are all brand-new. Probably a real factory-photo.

This Beijing Dongfeng BM021 is a true part of China’s automotive history. I don’t think many are still around. I therefore consider myself a very lucky man finding this blue example in Nandaihe.

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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3 of 8 comments
  • Orick Orick on Jan 02, 2012

    Tycho, do you have any interior shots?Iirc, these were steered by handle bars. They didn't have steering wheels like the new ones. I sat in the back of one back early 80's. 2 benches in the back, sitting total 6 ppl sideways. Or was it 4? Canvas top to keep out the rain. No door or anything. Cheap practical work horses (or donkeys) they are.

    • Tycho de Feyter Tycho de Feyter on Jan 02, 2012

      Hello Orick, the blue 3 wheeler that I saw had a steering wheel. Older ones did indeed have a handle bar. Even today many simple 3 wheelers used in the countryside are still made with handle bars. Tycho

  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on Jan 03, 2012

    Hey Tycho, when I was in Beijing this summer I caught a glimpse of the back of what appeared to be a new 3-wheeler. I suspect it was electric and it looked very modern in a white thick durable plastic way. It had modern tailights and glass fitted. It looked almost car-like. Have you seen one floating around there? It was about a block a way and I didn't get a chance to get a camera shot of it. Any idea what I'm referring to? Sure looked interesting from what I saw. It sure as heck beat the usual backyard welding job you see around most 3 wheelers here in China. *edit* Ohh LMAO, I think I just saw it, I followed that link to the Wildfire WF650, that sure looks like it. I've only seen one though, any ideas why they aren't popular?

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)