Home » How This Shabby Lincoln Town Car Became One Of The Rarest Chinese Cars In America

How This Shabby Lincoln Town Car Became One Of The Rarest Chinese Cars In America

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Driving from Los Angeles to Pebble Beach for Car Week means that you adjust your car-spotting expectations significantly. You go into this knowing you’re going to be seeing some rare and remarkable cars, and you’ll just have to calibrate your brain’s Losing Your Shit sliders accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll just end up in a delirious coma of astoundednessitude, due to the constant flow of cars that would, under normal circumstances, have you talking about them all week. Even knowing this, I don’t think I was prepared to see one particular staggeringly rare car that looked a lot like a staggeringly normal car, and it all happened in, of all places, a Carl’s Jr parking lot.

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The car started life as a Lincoln Town Car but is now a Hongqi Qijian (红旗 旗舰) CA 7460. I described what Hongqi cars were about for Jalopnik years ago, when a pair were brought to the Pebble Beach Concurs d’Elegance from the Sanhe Classic Car Museum in Chengdu:

Hong Qi means “red flag” in Chinese, and is the oldest passenger car maker in (well, post-1949) China, being founded in 1958. Hong Qi’s cars were, like Soviet ZIL limousines, not for regular people to drive, but were reserved for government officials, diplomats, dignitaries, and foreign heads of state. If you meet an elderly Chinese person with memories of riding in a Hong Qi, they’re probably a Big Deal.

Now even though I said this particular Hongqi started life as a Lincoln Town car, that doesn’t really make it any less of a Hongqi, because this is how all Hongqi Qijian CA 7460s started life, since Ford supplied nearly-complete Town Cars to the Hongqi factory from 1998 to 2005, where Hongqi changed all the badging, headlights, taillights, trunk lid, grille, added their trademark “red flag” hood ornament, and more.

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That also happens to be exactly what Yang, a student at Art Center College of Design and a Hongqi intern, did to his car that we saw in that fateful Carl’s Jr parking lot. You can see the car and Yang and hear what he did here:

 

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The resulting look definitely still feels like the Town Car, but all of the details are strange and different, from the unique Chinese fan-inspired grille to the slightly more curvaceous trunk lid, to the taillights with their amber indicators, to that wedge of glowing red plastic boldly mounted on the hood.

Hongqi 4I think this is pretty incredible; the Hongqi CA 7460 is all but unknown in America, and is incredibly rare in China as well. Yang bought the Town Car in America, then in China managed to find a CA 7460, which he then stripped of its unique parts and took them to America with him, where they were used to transform the Lincoln into the Hongqi.

It’s sort of like how you may have fantasized about getting an old Chrysler 300 and then going to Europe and finding a Lancia Thema, then bringing home all the unique body parts to transform your 300 into a Thema. The only difference is that the Hongqi is much more rare and Yang actually did it.

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The ratio of effort expended here to making something conventionally valuable or even recognizable to most people is, by most standards, not great. But to our standards, the only standards that matter right now, I think Yang has done something fantastic. He’s taken a pretty run-of-the-mill Town Car and made it into something baffling and unexpected.

A blip in the basic fabric of reality as we expect it, a peculiar ambassador from the other side of the world, both familiar and unfamiliar.

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MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
9 months ago

This is amazing. This is absolutely the type of content that I love to see on the Autopian. And this guy’s car is the type of car-nerd stuff that I just love to geek out over. Park that at a Cars & Coffee and I’m gonna geek out over this.

That being said, the only thing that separates the Lancia Thema from the 300 that it is based off of is the Lancia grille, Lancia Thema badging, and the Lancia badge in the airbag cover. The conversion of this Lincoln was way more in-depth.

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago

While yes, I laugh at people who KDM swap their Hyundai (and will continue to) this is a gem, because of how specific, unusual and low key it is.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
9 months ago

This is brilliant!

Mark Kress
Mark Kress
9 months ago

The VIN says it’s a Lincoln Town Car, so it’s a Lincoln Town Car with some aftermarket parts. Now that the first of those Hong Qi Town Cars are 25 years old, he can legally import one and come back next year with a legitimate car.

Lokki
Lokki
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Kress

Dumb question perhaps but I wonder if the shells are sent to China with FMC VINs already assigned. After all isn’t the Hong Qi itself a “Lincoln Town Car with some aftermarket parts?

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
9 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

More than likely they were the same as the commercial chassis sent to limo companies, so they’d almost certainly have FMC VINs.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Kress

Calm down. I know it’s Monday but there’s no need to drop a corn-studded loaf on this kid’s work and efforts. Don’t be such a geriatric grouch.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Mason

there’s no need to drop a corn-studded loaf”

LOL… I’ll have to remember that line…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago

It may be called the Red Flag, but it’ll always be a coxcomb to me. And I can only imagine the high pitched squeal of recognition/delight a real-life sighting of one on the road would prompt

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
9 months ago

Congrats, Yang, on bagging the headlamps in pristine condition! I have never one Hongqi “Town Car” without jaundiced or cataracted headlamps. Gathering the unique Hongqi parts and shipping them to the US to be reconstituted on a donor US Town Car is great way of bypassing the 25-year restriction.

Hongqi isn’t only one to fit the taillamps with amber turn signal indicators. Lincoln did sell some Town Cars in Japan (mostly converted into “miyagata”, the most obnoxiously ostentatious hearse cars) and the Netherlands as stretched limousine.

Town Car European taillamps (with integrated reverse lamps due to the wider European licence plates)
Town Car Japanese taillamps (without integrated reverse lamps)

However, Lincoln chose the most bizarre headlamp design ever for the export Town car. The sight isn’t savoury so consider yourself duly warned!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

Great details: thanks!
And I appreciate the ‘not savory’ warning there—those things are unsettling.

Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
9 months ago

My fav part has to be the turn signals assuming they’re actually fully functional.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
9 months ago

I could not like this fast enough on Insta! What a great find. Wonder what kind of reaction Mr. Yang gets when he drives it around LA.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
9 months ago

I can’t help myself, I like the hood ornament.

ScottyB
ScottyB
9 months ago

I think he actually improved the car’s looks, I always thought this generation Town Car styling was intentionally making fun of itself, these changes all tone it down a bit. Well, except the red hood ornament, but that’s such a stunning piece of art on it’s own, and part of the recipe, that you really couldn’t leave it off. Impressive.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
9 months ago

A fantastic build!

Much respect.

Mike F.
Mike F.
9 months ago

OK, the car is awesome but what I really want to know is how you found it in that Carl’s Jr. parking lot?

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

When you’re open to the universe, the universe opens to you.

Mike F.
Mike F.
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I shall now commence sitting cross-legged on the floor, emptying my mind of all thought, and releasing all attachments to earthly life. And when that’s done, I’m headed out to canvas fast food parking lots!

Last edited 9 months ago by Mike F.
Lokki
Lokki
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Yeah, but it never though that the Universe would expose itself to me in a Carl’s Junior parking lot.

Torque
Torque
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Torch & David’s daily affirmations on “unique car shit” is clearly paying off!

LTDScott
LTDScott
9 months ago

I nearly lost my mind when I saw this at some car show in LA last year. Such a ridiculous car to recreate here but I fully applaud Yang for doing it!

SLM
SLM
9 months ago

Now, he just needs to find a chauffeur. The owner of this kind of car would never drive it…

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago

Yang is an absolute legend – this is the kind of insanely, quirky, enthusiasm that I admire, and I would guess he spent much less money on his “1 of 2” Hongqi than any other person at Car Week driving a “1 of 2” anything.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

You sure you guys didn’t travel so far west you would up east?

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
9 months ago

I love this, and people who properly re-panel cars to unique models we don’t have. I wanted to the same with my GX460 and make it a proper Land Cruiser Prado 150, but its cost prohibitive for me, and someone already beat me too it (insta URJ150).

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
9 months ago

yep, you can buy a whole kit, and I think the sellers of said kit are good people

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
9 months ago

I’m kind of doing that, except I’m actually re-panelling a car to a unique model that never actually existed at all! It’s an early model Australian Valiant utility, panel swapped to make it an earlier model, except it will become the model before the introduction of the utility bodystyle, thus becoming something that was never actually built by Chrysler Australia.

Greg R
Greg R
9 months ago
Reply to  Morgan Thomas

Would that be a VC? If so, are you using the triangular tail lights? I owned a VC Regal back in the 70’s, beautiful car to drive and very comfortable.

AlienProbe
AlienProbe
9 months ago

Not all heroes wear capes. Apparently, some of them do batshit crazy under the radar conversions wearing a big red Chinese flag for a cape. Bravo! Love this stuff

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
9 months ago
Reply to  AlienProbe

From the deep reaches of the interwebs, an old friend appears! How are you my man?

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
9 months ago

I sure hope you weren’t eating Carls Jr in that rare Lincoln?

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
9 months ago

Absolutely not! We got Arby’s

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I presume you got curly fries, like a proper gentleman?

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
9 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

(HongQi pulls up next to the Autopian Lincoln)

“Pardon me, would you happen to have any horsey sauce?”

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
9 months ago

This is 100% totally awesome and I bow to the genius of this young man.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

The Red Army was attempting to capture an important American politician on his way to the airport. Using secret technology stolen from a US government lab in Area 51, they created a quantum entanglement through the Earth which connected a Lincoln Town Car to its parallel universe Hong Qi version in China. The scheme backfired and when the wormhole closed, this kid and the Hong Qi ended up in the US while the Chinese got a 15 year old Lincoln and Hunter Biden.

Last edited 9 months ago by Chronometric
EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
9 months ago

Nothing says global Communism quite like the Lincoln Town Car! Marx did say “Democracy was the road to Socialism”, however he didn’t expect the Panther platform would be the vehicle to get there.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago

A friend of mine married a woman from Poland, the first time she saw the mid 1980s Town Car I had at the time, she exclaimed that it looked like the cars they had under Communism, which didn’t quite track, since a Polski Fiat is about as far from that as you’d get, but that was her take on it, anyway.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I mean, it’s not unlike a big Volga in being ancient and body-on-frame.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

A Lada 2107 has the same basic details, too, if you’d instead described the Town Car to her over the phone. Square, old-fashioned sedan bodywork with chunky bumpers and an added-on stand-up chrome grille!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
9 months ago

So, wait, it’s a Pinko Panther?

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
9 months ago

That joke was so bad I clousseau’d my eyes.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
9 months ago

*golf clap*

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
9 months ago

Oh wow look! Even China has standards! Real turn signals on those tail lights!

Even China doesn’t allow those lame-ass red turn signals and combination stop/turn signals how about that

Last edited 9 months ago by Dogisbadob
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