Jay Leno Drives a 1970s Hongqi Dictator's Car from China, Breaks Down

 1978 Hongqi CA770 - Jay Leno's Garage 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
The funny thing about dictators is that they think they can do everything better than the American capitalist pigs. That might be true for growing crops or raising children that don't talk back, but luxury automobiles are an entirely different thing.
But where would we be if Iraq didn't have an obscure car company or if Russia didn't copy every Chrysler it could get its hands on? Up next, we are going to take a look at the 1978 Hongqi CA770, a car that's so obscure not even Jay Leno knows about it.

It's about 6 meters long, weighs 3 tons, and has no power steering. So the Hongqi is not as dynamic as the supercars Jay is used to. But it is draped in history.

We feel inclined not to believe everything the owner of the car says, as he seems to agree politely with everything Leno says. The Hongqi is one of China's early attempts at making a luxury car. While it's not directly linked to the ideal of dictatorship, if you owned one of these, you were probably oppressing somebody back in the day.

Besides that, the Chinese used the Mercedes-Benz 600 as their point of inspiration. There has never been a more iconic dictator's car than the 600, so it's only natural that the Hongqi looks like it has blood on its hands.

The engine is a total mystery. Leno looked at it and said he believed it was a Ford Y-block from the 50s. But other sources say it's a Chrysler. We also know that Russians made large limos at the time, and their Volgas and Chaikas had copies of Chrysler engines installed.

Either way, the darn thing kicks the bucket halfway through the review. You've got to love Leno's well-timed sense of humor: "If Chairman Mao were riding in the back, I'd be dead!" Perfect!

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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