Today in Crazy Car Production Days of Guangdong (CCPDoG™): Datong Saibeijian Auto Works, a company based in the great city of Datong in Shanxi Province. They made a series of their own cars under the Saibeijian (SBJ) brand name.
In addition to that they also ‘made’ at least three different cars for the infamous Guangdong scheme. Read all the details about it here. In short: Datong Saibeijian would lease their production license to a Guangdong-based company that would use it to ‘manufacture’ cars in Guangdong.
These cars weren’t really manufactured. Companies would send a shipment of cars to China. The cars would miss some crucial parts like the wheels, mirrors, or door handles. This was enough to classify these cars as car parts, avoiding the import taxes.
Companies would then send the missing parts in another container. Both containers would end up in a shed in Guangdong were they would be reunited into a working car and could be sold as a China-made vehicle, netting huge profits for everybody involved.
Only catch was that these companies needed an official car-making license by the central government. The government however would not give a license to a misty Guangdong business, so they had to find an existing car maker to piggy-back on. One of those car makers was Datong Saibeijian Auto Works.
These semi-illegal deals were never published so I don’t know who was involved on the Guangdong side. Usually, there would be a Guangdong company which did the assembly, a Hong Kong company that took care of the money, another Hong Kong company that orchestrated the whole thing, and a trader or car company that delivered the original vehicles.
The trader could be a completely independent entity, working without any backing or even knowledge by the vehicle’s manufacturer. But these manufacturers were involved too, using a web of shell companies to get their cars into China.
With Datong Saibeijian Auto Works we can be pretty sure the original vehicles came from a trader, since every car involved was of a different brand.
The three known Saibeijian cars were:
1. Toyota Crown S130.
2. Nissan Sunny Super Saloon B14.
3. Honda Accord CD5.
Starting with the Crown:
The Toyota Crown S130 was manufactured from 1987 until 1997, with a facelift in 1991. The white Saibeijian car is a facelifted example. Interestingly, Toyota also officially marketed the S130 in China, and even today there are still a lot of them around.
A very brown interior. Manual gearbox. The Crown was available with various four-and six cylinder engines, but the latter were mostly mated to an automatic, so this white Crown is likely a four.
The Saibeijian Crown had a Toyota badge on the grille and a SBJ badge on the back. The word ‘Toyota’ is nowhere to be seen. License plates are of Guangdong Province.
The SBJ Saibeijian badge.
On the right side of the boot lid a big badge saying big things: Datong Saibeijian Auto Works.
The Nissan Sunny B14 was manufactured from 1993 until 1998. The ‘Super Saloon’ was a trim level that was only marketed in Asia, but not in China. Power came from a ‘GA-15’ 1.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine.
This green-blue example has SBJ badges on the grille and back, and a Super saloon badge on the right-rear below the light. There are no Nissan badges anywhere. License plates of Guangdong.
I know that there was another Chinese automaker that ‘manufactured’ the B14 Sunny Super Saloon in the same period.
The SBJ badge on the back.
The fifth generation Honda Accord CD5 was manufactured from 1994 until 1997. It was officially marketed in China as an import, and at the very same time a popular car at the Crazy Car Production Days of Guangdong; at least four other car makers ‘manufactured’ it as well.
It seems very unlikely that Honda didn’t know anything about this, so I suspect they must have been somehow involved. Maybe not with Saibeijian, but likely with one or more of the others.
The Accord has SBJ badges on the front and rear and an Accord badge on the right side. There are no Honda badges on the exterior. Guangdong license plates.
Note how the ‘factory workers’ placed the EX badge upside down.
And that was Saibeijian’s contribution to the Crazy Car Production Days of Guangdong. More on Saibeijian’s own cars in a later post.
If you want to research this interesting company; here are a few starting points:
Saibeijian Auto: 塞北箭汽车.
Datong Saibeijian Auto Works: 大同塞北箭汽车制造厂.
Designations: DT & DTC.
If you know of any similar ‘Guangdong car’ from this period please contact us.