Japanese car styling at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Officially the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 with the death of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong. But in the last years before the end there was already a turnaround in car styling. Forgotten were the heavy ‘no-nonsense’ Cultural Revolution bodies. Suddenly there was a look direction east and the new designs were strongly influenced by the lighter Japanese car styling of that era.

Beijing BJ750, 1974-1981, 134 produced.

Beijing Auto Works came in 1974 with a successor for the Dongfanghong. It was the Beijing BJ750, equipped with the same engine, the BJ492Q which was also mounted in the Beijing Jeep BJ212. It was a pleasant car to see, and it was a pity that the government blocked its production: Beijing Auto was confined to Jeep production, only Shanghai Auto was allowed to make middle class cars.

Beijing BJ750, 1974-1981, 134 produced

Over the years BAW experimented with engines:  a BJ751 with wankel engine (2 prototypes made), a BJ750V6 (3.2L 6V92 engine based on the BJ492Q engine) and a BJ752 with the Cherokee engine, which saw its light much later in 1987 (3 prototypes made). The total production of the BJ750 (1974-1981) was 134 cars.

Tianjin TJ740, 1973-1978, 63 produced.

Tianjin Auto Works, which also produced the TJ210 cross country vehicle, came with the Tianjin TJ740 in 1973. The engine, called 485Q, was a 1815cc engine. The car was smaller than the BJ750 (length 4510mm against 4802mm). Only 63 units were made, from 1973 till 1978. There are not many good pictures. The scarce pictures show at least four different front ends.

Tianjin TJ740, 1973-1978, 63 produced. Beautiful drawing made by Ivan Kolev.
Beijing BJ740 (??), no info.

Another car from Beijing. This car is made by the Beijing No. 2 Auto Works, the producer of the famous Beijing BJ130 2 ton truck. I don’t know the name of the car. A good guess would be Beijing BJ740. Three of these cars showed up in a Chinese movie from 1979, named Ying. An earlier photo suggests the year of make: 1973.

Beijing BJ740 (??)
Shanghai SH750, 1975-1980.

Shanghai Auto was also active: another attempt to replace the SH760. This car was called the Shanghai SH750. The designer was mr. Zhong Boguang, he started the project in 1975. The exact year of introduction is not known, after some years SAIC speaks from a Shanghai SH761S, launched in 1980. It seems that the first prototypes were equipped by a wankel engine, the cars developed by the Shanghai Automotive Research Institute, and the latter cars by a 680Q engine, the same engine as in the SH760. It didn’t come to serial production.

Shanghai SH750/SH761S, 1975-1980
Hongqi CA750, 1982-1984. Only one made.

First Auto Works (FAW) in Changchun came late with their Japanese inspired cars. The Hongqi CA750, clearly showing the lines of the Datsun 280C, was introduced in 1982. It was an attempt to compete with the Shanghai SH760.

Hongqi CA750, 1982-1984.

A long wheelbase version named Hongqi CA760 followed in 1984. Here too the government intervened, making middle class cars was exclusively the task of Shanghai Auto.

Hongqi CA760, 1984. Only one made.

China is not China if there were not exemptions:

Shanghai SH771, 1974-1978, 30 cars produced. Photo Oliver Barnham.

Shanghai Auto used two German Mercedes Benz cars to design two other different possible SH760 successors: the Shanghai SH771 (1974), equipped with the Hongqi V8 engine, was based on the W116 type Mercedes. About 30 were made.

Shanghai SH761 saloon, second model, 1975, one made.

Another Shanghai SH761 Saloon, based on the Mercedes W114, was developed from 1975.

Shanghai SH761 saloon, second model, 1975, one made.

Like I have written before about the “no-nonse’ style cars from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, here too we can conclude that no car came into real serial production. The position of the Shanghai SH760 (about 75.000 made) was not threatened.

All these cars with much more information, and many more, you can find in my history documents: https://www.chinesecars.net/category/catalogue/history-documents


5 thoughts on “Japanese car styling at the end of the Cultural Revolution.”

    1. Hi Paul, yes, you can say that. To anticipate on your next question: there are not many cars still alive. There is no trace of the BJ750 or the TJ740. Amazing as we have two survivors from the BJ750 predecessor: the Dongfanghong BJ760. The only cars still existing are: (as far as we know, you never know what shows up..) the two Hongqi prototypes, the CA750 and CA760, I have seen them both in the FAW factory collection. And one of the SH771. This one I have seen in the SAIC collection and it was exhibited at the SAIC headquarters.
      OK, Paul it seems that you are my only reader! Where are the others, where are all the comments I expected?

  1. Don’t worry, I’m here too! I read every post and I’m fascinated by Chinese car history.

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