We all know the term 'Made In China', but this past weekend I discovered a new variant, 'Made FOR China'. Or more accurately, 'Made IN China FOR China'. This case of MICFC caught my attention parked on in the street, thanks to its mash-up of Citroen and Peugeot models. The front end design and logos suggested it was a Citroen, but the body style was clearly a 5-door hatchback Peugeot 206.
It turns out that this special Chinese model was first produced in 2006 in a joint Dongfeng-PSA factory in China (a joint venture between the Chinese auto manufacturer Dongfeng and the parent company of the French brands Peugeot and Citroen). It was developed because of the greater recognition and popularity of Citroen in China compared to the relatively unknown Peugeot brand. With a quick nose and butt job, PSA was able to create a new model based on their popular 206 for China at a low cost. As with the 206, a 3-door version was also offered.
While it's not the most beautiful small car out there, it was still interesting to discover a model of car I didn't know existed. A different Citroen C2 was produced and sold in Europe from 2003 until 2009. This was a unique model to Citroen and was only sold in a 3-door hatchback version. Of the two I certainly preferred the Euro C2, which had a more original and distinctive design I have previously mentioned:
Now I'm curious to know if there are any other 'Made in China for China' models out there. Does anyone know of any China-specific models that foreign brands don't sell anywhere else in the world?
I once again have confirmation that my friends and family have figured out my taste in automobiles. During a recent visit to Montreal, Canada, a friend snapped a few pictures of a car he knew I'd appreciate. Was it an exotic sports car? A classic American muscle car? A lovely British roadster? No, it was a K-Car (as they were more or less affectionately known). A compact Chrysler sedan from the 1980s. A plain, boring, non-descript Plymouth Reliant:
You'll be forgiven if you confuse this with the Dodge Aries, an identical model that Chrysler badged as a Dodge instead of a Plymouth. The cars were identical, with only the badges and in some years and models the grilles being different. Normally I would try to determine the year, but it's impossible with these K-Cars. If it weren't for the 'Plymouth' name barely visible on the rare left side, I wouldn't even know if it was the Plymouth or the Dodge.
And yet I still get a huge kick out of seeing this car. It's certainly because it was the car my dad was driving around the time I got my driver's licence. It was a maroon 4-door Reliant (at least I think it was a Reliant... maybe it was an Aries?!) with front buckets seats (which was quite rare) and a 3-speed automatic transmission (with shifter on the column). There's not much else to tell you about it... it had power brakes and steering, an AM/FM radio with cassette player and two speakers, a change holder, and a cigarette lighter. Pretty pitiful list of features. But when you're 16 and have your freshly laminated driver's licence in your hand, you don't care. It was economical and reliable, and got me where I wanted to go.
Thanks, Alex, for sending me photos of that boring old Reliant! It really jogged my memory, and I enjoyed recalling all the adventures I had in that car. It took me back to the time in high school when a friend and I took it down a muddy, snowy backroad. For some reason I had the brilliant idea of trying out its off-road skills, and we didn't get very far before it started to get stuck. It was late in the evening and getting dark, and we started imagining axe-wielding murderers chasing us down the road (more of a path, really), unable to get away with the K-Car spinning its wheels in the mud...
Another laugh was the time a friend and I had pulled off the road into a farmers field to listen to some music. This was a common, innocent ritual for Ottawa Valley teenagers, and usually we'd listen to a few favourite songs (my best guess it was 'Spirit of the West'), drink a 'Jolt' Cola, and be on our way. That particular time we listened a little too long, because the battery died and we were unable to restart the car. We waited out by the road and flagged down a car to ask for a boost. Instead of keeping my mouth shut and simply asking for help, as my friend suggested, I started in on a long and convoluted story to explain how we had ended up parked in a field with a dead battery. The people who stopped to help us were older guys we recognized from high school, and my friend was mortified when she saw that they weren't buying my story and assumed something much less innocent than listening to the radio had been going on...
One last memory goes back to a time I was working part-time at a tire repair shop. I noticed one day that the owner had an old worn pair of tires the right diameter for the K-Car, but much wider. I thought about how cool it would look with wide tires in the back, and my dad agreed to let me put them on. I installed them on the rims and balanced them myself, and bolted them onto the car. Proud of my work, I headed home at the end of the day to show my dad. It was wintertime, and there was a little bit of snow on the ground. In the very first corner (no exaggeration here, it really was the first corner I came to!) I turned right, and the rear end went sliding out. I spun around and ended up backwards in the ditch. As I had been wearing my seatbelt I wasn't hurt, though I did feel like a complete idiot, and hung my head in shame when I called my dad from the nearest house and asked him to send a tow truck. He came to see what I had done, and was laughing despite himself. One "Glad you're not hurt", after that a "That's what happens when you drive too fast with bald tires in the snow" followed with a "Lesson learned" was all I ever heard about the matter...
I only have one photo, or partial photo, of our old K-Car. You can't see much, just the rear end and the dark maroon colour, because some dorky 16 year old is blocking the view...
Even a car as simple and dull as a K-Car can be a pleasant thing to see! This may be the only time in recent history that anyone took a picture of a K-Car, but I bet I'm not the only person who can enjoy a roadtrip down memory lane in a 4-cylinder, 3-speed Reliant!
One of my favourite beers on a hot summer day is a Corona with a wedge of lime. On a recent vacation to Indonesia I enjoyed several, as a matter of fact. What I didn't expect was that I would experience a Corona of a different flavour. This one was a Corona 2000, a nifty rear wheel drive sedan, produced by Toyota. This particular version was the sixth generation, built between 1978 and 1983. The streets of Indonesia's cities are a mix of modern cars and older gems like this, and while this Corona 2000 (signifying a 2.0 litre engine) was far from pristine, it still looked pretty good for its 30+ years.
As was common to the older cars I crossed paths with on this trip, this one had been embellished with a few additional chrome touches and aftermarket wheels. It may not be my style, but it did add a bit of style to the orange sedan, and it blended in well with the other lightly customised 1980's cars in the city of Yogyakarta, on the island of Java. There were a few spots of rust, but nowhere near as many as one would find in a colder country that uses salt in winter. In Indonesia, which is below the equator, one might have to worry about rain, wind, and the occasional volcano explosion, but road salt is definitely not a concern for old car owners here!
With wonderful weather, kind, friendly people, and many sights to see (ranging from mountains and volcanos to forests, rivers, islands, and ancient temples), Indonesia is a very appealing country. Spread across over 17,000 islands (approximately 6,000 uninhabited) and extending over a total of 5000 kms, Indonesia has many different regions, climates, languages, and cultures. One thing that seemed common everywhere I visited was that they love these old relics as much as I do! So while the idea of living in a tropical paradise is already tempting, add in the availability of cool, cheap old cars, and I could easily be convinced...
For now thought I'm not going anywhere. I'll just kick up my feet with an ice cold Corona, and contemplate this new Corona that I have discovered!
Welcome! My name is Paul, and I am an old-fashioned, low-pressure, low-buck car fan with lots of automotive stories to tell!