Today in Chinese Car Brands That Time Forgot (CCBTTF): Dadi Auto, a somewhat crazy brand that made a series of station wagons and sedan in the early 1990’s and a series of SUVs and pickup trucks in the late 1990’s and 2000’s.
Dadi Auto was a brand under the Baoding Dadi Automobile Refitting Factory, later renamed to Baoding Dadi Automobile Industry Company. It was originally a military-owned business (PLA No. 9065 Refitting Company), repairing and maintaining military vehicles. In 1988 it was spun off the army and launched as a separate car maker.
Dadi was based in the great city of Baoding in Hebei Province. Baoding is also the home town of Great Wall Motors. In the early 00’s Dadi would start to use Great Wall engines in their own cars.
Over the years Dadi went through many restructurings, which was very common in China. Seemingly at each time, the company came up with a new logo and/0r a new font. Sometimes, different logo’s were used on the same vehicles, which was also very common.
This logo is from around 2003.
Now to the cars:
The first known Dadi car was one of these typical pickup trucks that were sold as sedans. This had to to with licensing. Companies who wanted to make passenger cars had to ask for a license from the Chinese central government. But the government rarely granted those licenses.
Happily, it was comparatively easy to get a license for making commercial vehicles, which included pickup trucks and buses. So companies would get a commercial-vehicle license and make sedans without the rear tailgate, billed as a pickup truck. The tailgate would be handed over to customers separately. The Dadi BDG1030SH is a perfect example of the practice.
Here you can see how it works. Looks just like a sedan but without the tailgate. The inside of the luggage space seems nicely finished with some wood panels. Note the Daidi name in characters (大迪) between the taillights.
The BDG6481 was a cool station wagon, based on the sane chassis as the BDG1030SH. Engine was always the same on all of these old Dadi’s: the Beijing Auto Works 2.4 liter 492Q four-cylinder petrol engine, good for about 75 hp. The engine was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Given the ride height I suspect the Dadi cars were based on the BAW BJ212 chassis.
The The BDG6481 was updated with a new front: new lights, a new grille, and new bumpers. They also added a fresh set of wheel covers.
The wagon looked quite nice with a raised roof, matte black paint and red stripes. Note the gigantic mirrors, looking very truck-like.
A factory photo with a gray wagon with a gentleman loading a pink suitcase in the back. Check the Dadi logo on the wheel cover.
The next car is the BDG6491. Considering the amount of photos and information available it appears to be Dadi’s most popular car at the time. It is based on the wagon, with an MPV-like body. The design of the windshield is most interesting and very complex. It has a wide B-pillar in limousine-style. The antenna is huge, located on the right A-pillar.
The BDG6491 in front of a hotel. it really is a long car. The exhaust pipe is very visible under the body, low and totally exposed.
The wagon and the MPV parked in a lake on a picnic.
Dadi organized a trip to Tibet to show off the BDG6491’s capabilities. For the occasion they painted the car in a psychedelic color scheme. The wheel covers were removed and there is green flag hanging on the antenna.
Dadi got psychedelic again with these photos, showing a BDG6491 in a room with all sorts of way-out light effects. Dadi badge and 大迪 on the grille.
My colleague Erik met a real one in Xi’an in 1996. It looks fantastic but build quality seems rather basic. The headlights look very familiar but I just can’t find out why. If you know, please let me know in the comments below.
White stripe on tires really give it a luxurious touch.
Check that crazy windshield design, with a single wiper and a huge glass surface. It must have been very expensive to manufacture.
Dadi apparently came to the same conclusion because some time later they launched an updated variant designated BDG6490. It had a new A-pillar design with a normal windshield, and it had new wheel covers.
An advertisement for the updated BDG6490.
BDG1030SH – Updated Version
The BDG1030SH was updated with new more luxurious looks, similar in style to the BDG6490. The wheel covers were the same too.
Another fancy hotel photo, this time with a female attendant or driver, wearing white gloves.
A very pretty picture of a deep purple BDG1030SH standing at a seashore with a lady in yellow who looks very small compared to the huge vehicle.
This is probably the coolest Dadi. It is a giant station wagon with a raised roof and a sedan-like rear end. The wagon is seen here on an oval test track, likely the one that existed in Tongzhou District in Beijing.
It is truly a unique vehicle, with a partially covered rear wheel. The sedan rear end is very interesting, and there actually seems to be a trunk there. The hood is raised, note how high the headlights sit at the front. The raised roof slopes upwards towards the rear and there appears to be a integrated spoiler at the end.
1990 Asian Games
Dadi became very famous in China in 1990 when it supplied vehicles for the 11th Asian Games in 1990. Several Dadi cars were used for parading during the opening ceremony in the Workers Stadium in Beijing. One car carried a panda!
Dadi built a dozen or so parade cars for the event. These were open-top stretched limousines, apparently still based on a 4×4 chassis. The cars were fitted with pretty wheel covers, striping, and Dadi decals. The panda-carrying car had a cage on the back and only two seats, for a driver and a passenger.
Another variant with seats in the back.
A red car with at least five people standing in the rear compartment. The panda seems of the fake sort here (:. The official mascot of the 1990 Asian Games was PanPan, a panda.
A brown car with faux-wood panels with workers posing with a famous person in a brown coat. Sadly we don’t know who he is. Probably some athlete.
The brown car with flowers and a presenter.
A gray parade car with a bull bar and a duck.
The ‘A’ -shaped logo on the bull bar is the 1990’s Asian Games logo.
XI as in ’11’. Not as in Xi Jinping (:
There are still a lot of memories about the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing. It was the first major international sporting even held in China. When I lived in Beijing I wrote about these memories on my old Dutch-language website ChinaBlog.nl.
This is the media center of the 1990 Asian Games, just north of the southern section of the Second Ring Road. I took this picture in 2010. It is a community center nowadays.
A fence made for the games, seen in Fangzhuang District in 2011. I was in Fangzhuang in the winter of 2020, just before Covid-19 begun, and the fence was still there. It looks better now than on the picture, with a fresh paint job.
All righto, back to the cars. After mid-1990’s or thereabout Dadi went into state of hibernation. No new cars were developed and sales all but stopped. But the company survived, and in 2003 they were back, just in time for the incredible ‘first sales boom’ of the early 2000’s.
The Dadi BDD2020S was a nice double-cab pickup truck, most likely based on a Great Wall truck, and fitted with a new grille. Power came from a 2.0 liter petrol engine.
The BDD6491 is the first of the ‘modern’ Dadi cars. It was launched in 2003. As regular readers of this website may see, design of the SUV is the same as SUVs made by many other carmakers at the time.
This was caused by the odd system by which the car manufacturing business worked: car makers would order their bodies at one shop, their chassis and engine at another, and add it all together with their own badges on, and sometimes with a self-designed grille.
The unique thing in China was that all these carmakers got the bodies and chassis at the same suppliers, so the cars all looked the same too. The main engine suppliers were Shenyang-Mitsubishi and Great Wall Motors.
This way of ‘developing’ cars allowed car makers to launch as many cars as they wanted, and to update these cars regularly by just changing the grille or the lights. Dadi maximized this technique and from 2003 until 2009 they launched a dozen new models, updates excluded.
In many years they launched multiple vehicles and updates, and, like so many Chinese car makers, they had the habit of continuing making their older cars next to heir newer ones, a practice that is still very much alive today. All of this makes making a timeline a bit challenging sometimes.
The interior of the BDD6491 was typical for the time, with lot of faux wood panels and beige faux leather.
The BDD6491 was powered by a 2.2 liter Great Wall petrol engine designated GW491QE. Top speed was 120 km/h. The engine was mated to a five-speed manual sending horses to the rear wheels. Size: 4940/1760/1870, and wheelbase was a long 3025.
Price in 2003 started at 85.800 yuan. I also found the prices of some extra’s. A CD player went for 800 yuan, power steering a steep 2000 yuan, and electric windows cost 1600 yuan. The roof rack, side boards, rear spoiler, and spare wheel cover were standard.
A factory fresh car with a luxurious two-tone paint job!
The Dadi BDD1022SE was a pickup truck based on the same platform as the BDD6490. It had the same design and wheels. The BDD1022SE was available with various petrol and diesel engines.
High-end variant with two-tone paint and larger wheels.
BDD6490C Urban Horse
The BDD6490C was an updated variant of the BD6490. It got a real name too: the Urban Horse (都市骏马). The BDD6490C was launched in 2004. It got a new grille, a new bumper, new lights, and a super cool Japanese-style extra mirror on the right front fender. My colleague Erik saw this example in Beijing in 2004.
The mechanics didn’t change. The bumpers and door cladding were painted in gray.
The ladder was factory-standard too.
The Urban Horse in the Dadi factory in 2004.
The Dadi BDD1022DE based on the same chassis as the BDD6490C.
Dadi BDD6492Y – City Leading
The Dadi BDD6492Y City Leading arrived in 2004 too. It was an additional model with a different chassis and a different design. The City Leading came with a BMW-style kidney grille, which was a very popular grille design theme in those days. Many Chinese automakers, especially smaller ones, fitted BMW-grilles on their cars.
A factory brochure of the City Leading. Dadi called it a ‘CUV’.
A very nice blue example with yellow wheel nuts.
The BDD6492Y City Leading was powered by magic Shenyang-Mitsubishi 2.4 liter four-cylinder petrol engine, the motor that powered so many Chinese cars in those days, and continued to do so way until the very late 2000’s. Output was around 130-140 hp. Dadi claimed a 125 km/h top speed. It was a bigger car than the Urban Horse: 5060/1800/1800, 3025. The City Leading was exported to several countries, including Russia.
Note the smart-mirror, also a very popular feature of Chinese cars at the time. These mirrors were basically rear-view camera’s combined with a compass and an additional sound system and a slot for an SD card, so you could listed MP3 music or watch MP4 video.
Note the large Dadi logo on the window. 4WD badge on the low-right, with a red 4.
The owner of this yellow car didn’t like to drive a Dadi so he changed to Dadi badge for a Buick badge.
Factory advertisement. “New style New feeling”.
Factory photos showing a black car with yellow wheel hubs and a classy gray grille. The interior photos show the seven-seat configuration (left).
The same exterior but with an updated interior. Dash looks a whole lot better now! The smart mirror was still smart but much smaller.Dash update, mirror
The Dadi Country was a pickup truck launched around the same time as the City Leading, with the same design language.
The County was available with the Mitsubishi 2.4 and with a 2.0 diesel.
Dadi BDD6493 Yabao
Like so many Chinese automakers at the time, Dadi also made their own Honda S-RV clone. The BDD6493 Yabao arrived in 2004 as well! It was a typical ‘Honda’, looking just like an S-RV but with a Dadi badge and sporty alloys. The Chinese name was Yabao (雅宝). Not sure if it had an English name. Yabao is best tranlated as ‘Elegant Treasure’.
They even had a S-RV badge on the back, on a factory car. Engines: the Great Wall 2.2 or the Mitsubishi 2.4. Top speed was 125 km/h, with either engine. Size: 4720/1800/1860, 2850.
Dadi BDD6491 Jinchi
The BDD6491 was a . Guess when it was launched… Yes! 2004 once again. The Chinese name was Jin Chi (劲驰), best translated as ‘Powerful Horse’. The BDD6491 was positioned as a slightly more luxurious car, equipped with electric windows, faux-leather seats, electric rear-view mirrors, and a VCD/DVD system with an 8-disc changer. The Jin Chi came with a new engine: a 2.2 liter petrol motor made by Mianyang Xinche. Output was 103 hp and 193 Nm. Gearbox was a 5-speed manual.
Dadi BDD6490C – Updated
Meanwhile, Dadi also continued the old BDD6490-series, with yet another update in 2005. The recipe was the same: change the grille, change the bumper, and change the lights.
Very nice paint job here, with relatively modest stickers. The ladder looks cool but doesn’t seem very practical. Engine was the same again.
A brand new car on a dealer lot. The BDD6490 was getting a bit old by 2005 and prices went down. You could have one for just 77.000 yuan!
The BDD1021C was a double-cab pickup truck with the same design as the BDD6490. I think it looks great, especially in this dark-red color as this car, and with the wider wheels.
The BDD6491ES is a relatively unknown model. It had a more modern design with big black bumpers, sporty wheels, and side bars. Power came from a Shenyang-Mitsubishi 2.0 petrol with 112 hp. Top speed was 125 km/h. Oddly, this seems to be the top speed of every Dadi. I strongly suspect the folks at Dadi didn’t bother testing the top speed, and just claimed 125 for every car they made. Size: 4800/1820/1810, 2850.
Dadi City Steed BDD6490E
Yes, another upgrade of the BDD6490-series! Dadi just couldn’t cancel the thing. Same recipe as before, plus very pronounced front-fender covers, covring almost the entire fender. Wheels are the same as on the 6491ES.
Cool Dadi stickers on the doors.
Lots of faux wood inside. New steering wheel design, sporty dials, and a modestly-sized smart mirror. There were new engines. The Great Wall 2.2 was replaced by the 103 hp 2.2 from Mianyang Xinchen, and there was a new 98 hp 2.0 petrol from the same engine maker.
The Dadi artwork on the spare wheel cover is cool, showing China in red in Asia, with the Dadi name in blue.
Dadi Smoothing BDD1022
‘Smoothing’ is probably the strangest of all Dadi’s names. It was the same pickup truck as before, but with the latest design language incorporated. The alloys look pretty cool.
‘Smoothing’ sticker on the side of the bed.
Dadi BD1022DC Bliss
The BD1022 DC was the two-door version. It was available with various petrol en diesel engines. The most powerful motor was a 2.7 liter diesel with 107 hp.
Another variant had a compartment behind the seats and an extra side window.
Dadi Shuttle BDD6491
The Dadi Shuttle arrived in 2007. It was the company’s most modern SUV so far. It was also smaller than the other Dadi’s, with a wheelbase of just 2760. The interior looked very nice with a classy center stack and a new instrument panel with two dials. Round vents are very hip for Dadi too! The smart mirror remained standard equipment.
The Shuttle was available with two engines: a 100 hp 2.0 from Mianyang Xinche and with a locally-made Isuzu 87 hp 2.8 liter direct injection diesel engine. The Shuttle had five seats.
On factory photos is seemed to stand quite high on its wheels, but that was just trickery it seems, as in reality the Shuttle sat much lower to the ground:
The bumpers are truly gigantic. Hebei province license plate. A yellow plate strangely, which are normally reserved for commercial vehicles.
A very nice black example. Wheels a bit too small for pretty.
Dadi really tried to make the Shuttle look cool, check the rear lights, the wheel arches, the sporty alloys, and the shiny pipe tip. The Shuttle was at once the best, probably, and the last SUV Dadi would ever make. From then on it was pickup truck only:
And for a period of a few years Dadi launched and re-launched at least four new pickup trucks. This sort of speed was normal in China in those days, and still is today. The believe was, and is, the more different cars you make the more buyers you will get.
The BDD1023S was a nice truck with a modern interior and various kinds of sporty wheels. It came with a new front-end design and a cool rack in the back. Power came from either a 2.0 diesel or a 2.2 diesel.
Base version, without the rack.
Dadi BD1022 Bliss
The 2007 updated Dadi Bliss was a new design direction for Dadi, and probably their most trendy looking truck ever. Buyers could choose between two kinds of grille-detailing, one with bars and one with meshes. This Bliss was exported to various countries, including Russia.
The Bliss was powered by a 2.3 liter turbo-diesel.
A very pretty white example with a set of shiny wheels!
The BDD1027 hailed from a time when many smaller Chinese pickup truck makers started copying Chevrolet-front end design. The Dadi BDD1027 fits in perfectly with a Chevrolet-style grille.
It was available with various engines. The most special engine was the VG20 Nissan 2.0 V6, which at the time was made in China by FAW and also powered several Hongqi-branded cars. A very odd engine for a pickup truck! Output was 123 hp. Another engine choice was a 2.2 liter petrol with 102 hp.
And sadly, this was the last Dadi-branded vehicle. In 2011 the Dadi production license and factory were bought by the China Hi-Tech Group Corporation (CHTC), which started making pickup trucks and SUVs under the Hengtian brand. Early cars were basically rebadged Dadi’s but later on CHTC added some fully new cars too. Operations ended in 2017. More on the CHTC cars in a later post.
For now, this Dadi post is finished. It is the longest post I have ever written for this great website, with over a 100 images and more than 3000 word. It was more than 3 months work, but I am sure I still missed a few Dadi’s! If you know of any others please let me know in the comments.
Thank you for reading and see you soon.