These come from a variety of sources, including an ageing demographic, disappearing skills, legislative threats and the move to alternative fuels. However, a real boost for the preservation of classic vehicles could be at hand from the most populated countries in the world – China and India.
Though China has no significant historic car culture of its own and imports of older vehicles are still not permitted – at least, officially – things are changing. As evidence, the country’s first and only private historic vehicle museum has joined FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), reflecting its growing appreciation for classics.
The Sanhe Classic Car Museum (SCCM), located in Chengdu, boasts a collection of some 230 historic cars, with more than 30 marques dating from the early 1900s to the 1990s. Exhibits include a Benz Patent Motorwagen replica, 1906 Cadillac M, 1910 Napier 15HP, Auburn 851, Packard Super 8, Maserati 3500 GT and an Aston Martin DB4. Even more interestingly, however, the museum houses a good collection of Chinese-built Hongqis, the car used by senior members of the Communist Party and government officials.
SCCM’s owner and curator Huang ZongMin (known as Jason Huang) is a leading classic car collector in China and chairman of major prestige car retailer, the Sanhe Group. In 2016, Huang became the first Chinese collector to participate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with his 1923 RollsRoyce Silver Ghost, and in 2018, his Hongqi CA72 took home the Chairman’s Trophy.
Last month, SCCM was granted permission for classics to take to Chengdu’s roads and organised a drive of 22 historic vehicles to the Chengdu Motor Show. Once there, five cars provided rides to visitors – and for many it was their first experience of a classic.
Although, it’s one of just three museums dedicated to classic vehicles in China – the other two in Beijing and Shanghai are state-owned – the potential is huge. After all, China’s population is roughly 1.4 billion.
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