China boasts one of the world’s oldest civilizations, consisting of states and cultures more than six thousand years old. Despite China’s long and storied history, their automotive history only spans a brief 50 years, beginning with the production of the Red Flag.
Initially produced in 1958 for Chairman Mao Zedong, the handmade, low production Red Flag sedan was built for use by high ranking Chinese officials, in addition to foreign dignitaries and heads of state.
While the Red Flag looks similar to a period Lincoln at some angles, it appears to take cues from the East German Trabant as well. Approximately 1,500 Red Flag were built until the late ’70s.
And until now, a Red Flag has never entered the United States. The first Red Flag to ever enter the United States will be unveiled in a special ceremony Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in California. The Red Flag is the first collector car to be exchanged in the United States with China.
Don Williams, Museum President and owner of the prominent Blackhawk Collection shares, “This exchange represents cultural and automotive history as a collector car has never left China before, nor has China been able to purchase collector cars from outside the country.”
Williams has journeyed to China over the past three years, building many relationships along the way. Upon befriending Jason Huang, an avid car collector, prominent businessman and owner of Sanhe Group, he discovered the Red Flag. His 40 years of collector car industry experience told him the car had far more than monetary value as it represented China’s cultural history.
“I wanted the car from the moment I laid eyes on it, who wouldn’t want one of China’s very first cars”, reflects Williams. Through a friendship built out of a common love for cars, Williams has become the new owner of The Red Flag. The exchange was a timely one that required great patience while earning trust and permission from the government of China to bring the car to America.
Williams will be joined by his new collector car comrade Jason along with several Chinese dignitaries and the media at the Blackhawk Museum where the historic exchange will take place next week. After the ceremony, The Red Flag will be on display to the general public at the museum.
Not only does Williams hope to educate people in the United States about The Red Flag, China and its culture, he has also spent a great deal of time in China helping to educate their people about classic cars. Their primary exposure has been through magazines and TV. Williams notes, “I’ve spent time in Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing and have seen car enthusiasm in China grow by leaps and bounds. They are curious about movie cars and love cars with lots of chrome and detail.”
Williams has worked with government and private enterprise in Shanghai to bridge the collector car gap and has donated his time and expertise to help develop the Blackhawk Pavilion. He has provided 60 cars to the museum.
For more information, visit:
Blackhawk Collection: www.blackhawkcollection.com
Blackhawk Museum: www.blackhawkmuseum.org
Blackhawk Pavilion: www.blackhawkpavilion.com
[Source: Blackhawk Museum]