Tycho's Illustrated History Of Chinese Cars: The Perfect Hongqi CA770

Tycho de Feyter
by Tycho de Feyter

I found this perfect Hongqi CA770 state limousine at the Shanghai Car Museum, and it is definitely one of the best looking examples I have seen in China so far. The Hongqi (Red Flag) CA770 was a giant sedan made exclusively for the Chinese government. Only 847 cars were produced in its long life from 1966 until 1981. Here is its story …

The Hongqi CA770 was based on the platform of the 1950′s Chrysler Imperial, the body work however was designed in China by First Auto Works, or FAW, to this day the owner of the Hongqi brand. The design sought to combine ‘modern’ elements with traditional Chinese characteristics.

For modernity, FAW looked to the United States. Loads of chrome up front, very square greenhouse, and small tail-fins at the back. The Chinese characteristics emerge in the grille which was shaped like a Chinese fan. The rear lamps were good for a Chinese lantern festival.

Power came from a big American 215hp 5.6 liter V8 made by Chrysler. That power it needed! The CA770 was gigantic: 5980x1990x1620, wheelbase is 3720. Curb weight was 2730kg. Claimed top speed 160km/h which is actually not that bad for a vehicle that catches more wind than a house.

Chrome is good, more chrome is better, but Hongqi-chrome is king! A Hongqi in super state will normally fetch up to 100.000 USD, this example in Shanghai is probably worth quite a bit more than that…

The two Chinese flags look cool in a museum or on an auto show, but in the real world it doesn’t work that way. When the Chinese dignitary is inside, the vehicle will fly one Chinese flag. When a foreign dignitary is inside, the vehicle will fly the Chinese flag on one side and the flag from the foreigner’s country on the other side.

This CA770 joins my own private Hongqi collection. Here it is: CA770G, second hand restored, second hand unrestored, abandoned 1, abandoned 2, CA772T bulletpr0of, perfect unrestored, with rubbish, two with lotta dust and one of those once again.

More from the Shanghai Car Museum soon!

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.

Tycho de Feyter
Tycho de Feyter

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  • Infinitime Infinitime on Dec 20, 2012

    Here's another article by Tycho on an earlier variant, which more closely resembles the Chryslers of the same era.... http://www.carnewschina.com/2012/12/05/shanghai-car-museum-1959-hongqi-ca72/ If you scroll to the last picture, it shows the Chinese-lantern style taillights. Kind of Sino-Art Deco cool... if there is such a style.

    • MeaCulpa MeaCulpa on Dec 20, 2012

      And some people say that the Chinese only makes copies, those rear lights are clearly the inspiration for the horrible altezza/lexus lights.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Dec 20, 2012

    Does that mean there was Chinese espionage in the 50's? Spy-"Yes, Chairman Mao we did get the Imperial chassis plans from Chrysler" Mao-"But I wanted 354 Hemi and gunsight taillight plans too" "Off to the reeducation camp for you"

  • Paul Pity. I think there's a market for these now that half ton pickups are so immense. A few more fumbles and GM could miss out.
  • Kcflyer So I get to continue to subsidize my neighbors new EV's. Bonus, I get to pay for they kids Gender Studies Diplomas.
  • Wolfwagen The Alpha Numeric model system used to be good and had some consistency either to the size of the vehicle or engine. Now its just gobbly gook that doesn't make any sense. Lincoln was the worst since all their vehicles looked the same and all started with MK.
  • Urlik GDI engines emit 5 to 10 times the particulate matter that PFI engines emit. The particles are not just carbon either.
  • Pgb65773699 I enjoyed it, it is what you expect , funny