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I learned some history by seeing the 1938 Cadillac limo that George Patton was riding in Germany shortly after WWII, when he had the accident that cost him his life. And, beautifully restored. The Army still had limos for generals and VIPs when I served as a young officer in the late 60s. I felt nostalgia when I saw the new VW Beetle, in red, just like the 1963 one I had in college, and adjusted for inflation, I think it is cheaper, and more of a car, but with the old charm. I missed seeing the Rolls and Bentleys, which are always good for a dream. And I thought the new Jaguar XJ version, unlike the classy one I owned a decade ago, is outclassed by the new Buicks. It’s also a kick to see a $60,000 Korean sedan. The only thing missing are the Chinese cars, which I suppose will show up when they can meet their own internal demand. Meanwhile, they’ll just have to keep importing those Rolls and Lamborgini’s, to meet the demand of their rising capitalistic class.

On our trip through China the past two weeks, we were driven in Chinese-made cars, as well as a Buick Regal. The Buicks are built in Shanghai, where they are  considered a luxury brand. We saw them in every city and town we visited, and drove in a black one for 3 days in Beijing. An interesting Chinese brand is built by BYD, formerly a Chinese battery company that makes a lot of the world’s cell phone batteries. A guy named Warren Buffet has invested $250 million in BYD, which company PR lore says stands for either Build Your Dreams, or Bring Your Dollars — you pick. Another car we rode in, and it is shown here, is built by FAW (First Automobile Works) HongQi, a state-owned company, and has the look, fit and finish of a Lexus. FAW also builds a luxury limousine, including the one the President of China rides in, that sells for a modest $1.2 million. At the car-building city of Changchun, we saw dealers for virtually every global brand and saw car carrying trucks, each with 16 new Chinese cars aboard, by the hundred. China is now the largest automobile market in the world, out selling the U.S. by 60%, and its cars are nearly ready for the U.S. market. Watch for their EVs (electric vehicles). Warren Buffet is.

April 2020

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