Mao Zedong's Unused Superlong Limousine on Show

A superlong six-door Red Flag limousine custom-made for the late Chairman Mao Zedong who passed away in 1976 before he could use it, recently went on show in Chengde, a tourist city in north China's Hebei Province.

The limousine, the first and last 10-meter-long Red Flag car ever produced in China, was the work of the then First Automobile Works in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province in northeast China, according to its collector, Luo Wenyou.

Chairman Mao personally ordered the car in the early 1970s to show his confidence in China's then fledgling auto industry.

"We must produce our own longest limousine," Mao said.

The car eventually rolled out of the factory in 1976, the same year that Mao died. Neither he nor any Chinese leader at that time ever used the car.

The limousine parked at the Chengde stadium is as long as an ordinary bus. It is equipped with refrigerator, color TV, air- conditioning, telephone, desk and two double sofas, one of them converting into a double bed.

It is on record that as many as 40 schoolchildren once piled into the limousine.

Luo declined to say how the car came into his hands, but said he felt very proud that China was able to produce so great a limousine in the 1970s, and he was keen to let more people share his pride and joy.

( People's Daily May 16, 2002)