The design of cars during the Cultural Revolution.

Shanghai SH763, 1966

You would not expect this but the mass movement periods in China were very creative for the development of the car industry. I already described the birth of many protypes during the Great Leap Forward period 1958-1961. The styling in that period was much influenced by contemporary American styling.

During the period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) there was second period of creativity. Who wants to know more about this movement can look at Wikipedia. The highlight of the automotive car development was in 1970. Hundreds of new automotive projects were announced in the press. These were nearly all buses and trucks. It was a result of “the policy of walking on two legs”, a term applying to many different contrasting developments during the cultural revolution. In the automotive industry it meant the development of small local industries in contrast with the large industrial enterprises like for instance FAW. Another contrast was the development of indigenous Chinese car design against the existing universal car design.

Chinese car design during the first years of the cultural revolution was based on very simple ideas about what a car had to be. Straight lines, no frivolities. Sharp edges. In no way it has to be beautiful. In fact a car had to be not more than a box on wheels. For the existing designs replacement was developed. But due to the difficult and chaotic situation practically all these new cars never came into production.
We will show them here one by one.

FIRST AUTO WORKS just started the production of the renewed Hongqi (Red Flag). It was the famous CA770, replacing the shorter CA72.

Second batch of Hongqi CA770 in production, 1966.

From 1973 a number of new prototypes were developed. These “no-nonsense” Hongqi’s were designed by Jia Yanliang and Zhang Xiangrui. The first four cars named CA774 were made till 1975. The fifth version of the Hongqi CA774 came later, in 1979, and was clearly design influenced by Italian styling. Yes, the original staff, including Cheng Zheng, was back!

Hongqi CA774 second prototype, 1974

SHANGHAI AUTO developed the SH760 as Fenghuang (Phoenix) since 1959, the car was renamed Shanghai in 1964. In 1974 the car was updated and named SH760A. In total 75.000 cars were made, production ended in 1991.

Fenghuang (Shanghai SH760)

Efforts to replace the SH760 by a no-nonsense sedan started in 1966, with the development of the SH763. It is unknown how many of this square vehicle are made. The second version, the SH762, came a year later and had a nicer front. Photos of a third version, nomenclature unknown, showed up recently. All three cars used the same 6-cylinder engine as the SH760.

Shanghai SH763, photo Oliver Barnham, Suzhou 1980.
Shanghai SH762, 1967
Shanghai, nomenclature unknown

BEIJING AUTO started in 1960 with the Dongfanghong (the East is Red) BJ760. The car was produced till 1969, only 238 were made according the factory. Other sources talk about 106. The Dongfanghong was based on the Russian GAZ Volga M21. The car was driven by the same engine as the one from the Beijing BJ212 jeep.

Dongfanghong BJ760, first prototype, 1960.

In 1967 two square cars were unveiled: the Dongfanghong BJ761 sedan and the Hongwei (Red Guard) BJ761 station wagon. The sedan had a big Mao badge (pin) on the grille.

Dongfanghong BJ761, 1967
Hongwei BJ761

Two factories showed “cultural revolution styled cars” as their first car.
A factory in GUANGZHOU came up with  a sedan, we have two photos. No information, but we guess the car was named GZ760, had a Beijing BJ212 engine and was made by the Guangzhou  Automobile Repair & Assembly Factory. This factory made the GZ215 jeep based station wagon and the GZ212, a 4×2 copy of the Beijing Jeep. This factory developed into the Guangzhou Bus Works and was after that the Guangzhou Denway Bus Co. Ltd. Nowadays it belongs to the GAC Bus Group.

Guangzhou made sedan, maybe GZ760
Guangzhou sedan, a second picture

The second car is the Qiantangjiang JT760 made in 1970. This car is made in HANGZHOU. Here again nothing known. We guess: made by the Hangzhou Auto Works (started in 1966 with Qiantangjiang trucks). Or JT means Jiaotong and JT was mostly in use by several bus works for a common designed and produced bus. Zhejiang JT660 buses were made at that time by the Zhejiang Bus Factory in Hangzhou.

Qiantangjiang JT760
Qiantangjiang JT760

At the end of the cultural revolution Japanese styling became popular. In a next article I will show you the Beijing BJ750, Tianjin TJ740 and the Beijing BJ740(?). Shanghai Auto came up with cars based on Mercedes models.

All these cars, and so much more, are described in my history documents, for sale on my website:






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