Anting museum drives history of automobiles

After unmanned vehicles hit the headlines, the rapid development of the technology came as something as a surprise.
Shanghai Auto Museum / Ti Gong

Shanghai Auto Museum in Jiading’s Anting Town features the history of the automobile industry.

After unmanned vehicles hit the headlines, the rapid development of the technology came as something as a surprise.

However, progress is built on the achievements of predecessors.

When we learn the story behind antique cars we may understand the greatness of the people who put dreams into practice.

1955 Ford Thunderbird

A 1955 Ford Thunderbird is among Shanghai Auto Museum’s collection in Anting Town. The two-seat, rear-wheel drive convertible produced between 1955 and 1957 mirrored the outgoing personality of the American people.

Dubbed a “personal car” by Ford, the Thunderbird was developed amid the post-war baby boom. A total of 76 million people were born between 1946 and 1964 when the US economy was stepping into a fast growing period.

The United States became much more prosperous after World War II and many people had the money to achieve their dream of a big house and a fast car.

Lightweight for its era and fitted with a standard V8 engine, the Thunderbird came with a removable fiberglass top as standard, with a fabric convertible top the most commonly specified option.

A rare domestic two-seater for the era, it was designed to be a brisk luxury tourer and not a sports car, but could hit 180 kilometers per hour.

Lewis Crusoe, one of the three men generally credited with creating the original vehicle, offered US$250 for anyone who could come up with a good name for the car.

Stylist Alden Giberson submitted Thunderbird as part of a list which recalled the mythological creature common to indigenous peoples of North America.

Shanghai Auto Museum / Ti Gong

1961 Aston Martin DB4

Handmade Hongqi (Red Flag)

Hongqi, literally red flag, is more than a car brand in China. It has become a legend.

As early as 1958, the concept for the first Hongqi sedan began to take shape, thus giving birth to a legend among luxury motor cars that continues to the present day.

With its design based on a 1955 Chrysler, the first Hongqi, a convertible version, was handmade at the workshop of FAW to serve dignitaries in National Day parades of the year.

The one on display at Shanghai Auto Museum is a Hongqi CA770 state limousine made in 1977. The nearly 6-meter-long limo has three rows of seats and was exclusively made for the Chinese government.

Around 1,300 of the CA770 series and its derivative models were produced until 1998. The visiting state guests it served included former US president Richard Nixon.

Based on the platform of the 1950 Chrysler Imperial, the design of Hongqi CA770 sought to combine “modern” elements with traditional Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese characteristics emerge in the grille which was shaped like a Chinese fan. The rear lamps were good for Chinese Lantern Festival.

Powered by a 164-kw 5.6-liter V8 developed by FAW, the limo had a maximum speed of 165 kilometers per hour. The designer Jia Yanliang was only 25 when the model was first introduced in 1965.

Shanghai Auto Museum / Ti Gong

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe (W198)

Bentley 4½ liter

The Shanghai Auto Museum also has the only existing 1928 Bentley 4½ liter. A total of 720 4½ liter cars were produced between 1927 and 1931, including 55 cars with a supercharged engine popularly known as the Blower Bentley.

A 4½ liter Bentley Blower No. 1 developed by Henry “Tim” Birkin won the 24 hours Le Mans race in 1928.

Birkin was one of the Bentley Boys who drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s and kept the marque’s reputation for high performance alive.

Other rare cars at the museum include a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W198) two-seat coupe with distinctive gull-wing doors and an Auburn 851SC, both were dream cars of their times.

Shanghai Auto Museum / Ti Gong

1935 Auburn 851SC

If you go

Shanghai Auto Museum

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9:30am-4:30pm

Tickets: 60 yuan for visitors over 13 years old

Address: 7565 Boyuan Rd, Anting Town

How to get there: Anting Town station of Metro Line 11

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