Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

July 16, 2013

China revives Red Flag limo in display of ambition

BEIJING (AP) — The massive frame, bug-eyed headlights, huge retro front grille and scarlet glass hood ornament can mean only one thing: China’s big and brash Red Flag limousine is back.

The giant homegrown sedans were once among the most distinctive icons of the People’s Republic. Chairman Mao Zedong perched in the back of one to inspect Red Guards in the 1960s. President Richard Nixon rode through Beijing in one during his breakthrough 1972 visit. Bob Hope rode in one too, and was mysteriously told that the trunk was off-limits.

The Red Flag disappeared in the 1980s, replaced by humbler joint efforts with foreign partners that produced boxy Lincoln copies and rebranded black Audis. Now Beijing is reviving the brand to its former glory as a rolling chrome-and-steel embodiment of national pride and ambition.

Since this spring, the newly designed L7 model has conveyed dignitaries including French President Francois Hollande and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye in motorcades from Beijing’s airport.

“China wants to make clear to foreign visitors that it will not become just another Western society with Western goods and taste,” said Jonathan Holslag, a research fellow at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies at the University of Brussels. “China in the first place wants to be different from the West, and in the second place to be respected as a strong, muscular power.”

The L7 is a 6-meter (20-foot) dreadnought of an automobile, boasting a mammoth 12-cylinder engine and roughly resembling an oversized Bentley Flying Spur.

Foreign dignitaries and officials above the rank of minister get the L7, while top-level Chinese officials are chauffeured in an even bigger version, the leviathan L9, which reportedly costs about $800,000 and looks like the kind of car rock stars might drive into swimming pools.

Text Only

the BIZ

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide