On a beautiful cold autumn day in Beijing I met this great and giant Hongqi Yunhe CA5020 XYBA. Sadly it seemed the poor vehicle had been abandoned, dumped to turn into dust like the corpses she used to carry.
The Yunhe CA5020 XYBA is a very special vehicle. It is a stretched wagon-hearse, based on the Hongqi CA7220 sedan which in turn was based on the China-made Audi 100.
The Audi 100 was made in China by the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture from 1988 to 1999, alongside the more luxurious Audi 200.
FAW, or First Auto Works, is also the owner of the Hongqi (Red Flag) brand. Under a deal with Volkswagen the Chinese manufactured various Hongqi-branded sedans, limousines, parade cars, wagons, and wagon-hearses. All of these cars were based on the Audi 100 and Audi 200.
The hearses were manufactured by a FAW subsidiary called the FAW Shunde Automobile Factory. They were branded ‘Yunhe’ and had a unique Yunhe badge on the rear door, replacing the traditional Hongqi badge.
This is the CA5020 XJH, a civilian variant of the Yunhe CA5020 XYBA hearse, for those who needed a lot of luggage space.
The CA5020 XYC was a normal not-stretched wagon, available on the civilian market.
Yunhe CA5020 XBY, another hearse but slightly shorter behind the D. It also has a different cargo-bay cover with a smaller window.
This is a hearse-variant with a completely different side-window design with a large glass surface and tiny pillars. It is a mystery car, never mentioned in any FAW or Hongqi publication. It is possible that this car was manufactured by a specialty-vehicle maker, and not by FAW itself.
Back now to our CA5020 XYBA! It debuted in 1996 and was manufactured in small numbers until 1999. Wheelbase was extended with a massive 520 millimeter in the middle.
Power came from the 2.2 liter four-cylinder FAW 488 engine, good for 110 horsepower. This engine was a rebadged Chrysler K-platform unit. FAW bought the rights, tooling, and production line of this engine from Chrysler in a 1987 deal. FAW used the engine for many of their own cars, and they sold the engine to zillions of small Chinese automakers.
The cargo-bay area.
The Yunhe badge on the back. Yunhe (云鹤) refers to a mythical crane bird, the subject of many Chinese poetry and paintings. Mirrored in the photo my good friend Ali, on the right, and me, on the left.
Interestingly, Ali noticed that all windows of the Yunhe CA5020 XYBA were sealed shut, they couldn’t be opened, not even the ones in front. There is just no way the dead can escape from this car…
It was a bit of a mess inside the hearse, mostly around the steering wheel column and the gear lever. One of the three central vents is missing, and the seat covers are after-market.
Hongqi kept the Audi interior up until the steering wheel. They only thing they changed was the badge. The badge is an oval with a ‘1’ inside, referring to First Auto Works.
There was a wooden platform on the right side of the car, beginning just behind the B en ending just before the D. This is likely the place for the coffin.
There is a seat on the left side of the platform, and another seat on top of it. I think that second seat should be on the left side as well, behind the first seat. So there was space for two persons to accompany the diseased.
The FAW logo on the wheel.
FAW logo on the front fender.
The massive hearse stood in an out of the way area, between trees and bushes. There was an elderly-hospital nearby so we though the hearse might be theirs. But a guard told us he didn’t know anything about it.
Branches and leaves all over the bonnet.
The Hongqi Yunhe CA5020 XYBA is truly a rare car and deserves a better fate. Her shape is good enough to get her back on the road. She sure needs some work but nothing seemed beyond repair, and most parts are still easily available. If somebody is seriously interested please let me know in the comments below.
Will she ever ride again..?