As the Beijing auto show winds up, car buffs and auto writers can reflect on the bounty provided by world's auto makers as they seek eyeballs and sales in the world's biggest car market.
But before China Real Time hangs up its auto-show lanyard, it wants to take time to acknowledge the plain unusual.
Like, for example, the Gen. Patton.
Nestled between the Ferrari and McLaren booths like a rhino among gazelles, the Gen. Patton stood out both for its sheer bulk, its military bearing and its rah-rah American name. Big tires and sharp right angles suggest a Humvee reimagined for a smooth ride during an urban apocalypse. One model boasts more than four tons of weight and a 6.8-liter V-10 engine -- specs that the Chinese government probably didn't have in mind when it arrived at its latest pollution targets.
The Gen. Patton name and concept come from Tang Qingjie, a Liaoning native who once worked as an automotive engineer in Detroit. Today his business, U.S. Specialty Vehicles of Chino, Calif., makes the Gen. Patton and other modified vehicles. The Gen. Patton, he says, is built on the chassis of a Ford 350 or Ford 450 truck with brawn in mind.
'I hear customers say, 'This is a man's car. You want to be a man? Get this car,'' said Mr. Tang, who also goes by Tim Tang.
While impractically big rides seem like mostly an American idea, Mr. Tang says the Gen. Patton has Chinese appeal. Since he put the car on display at last year's auto show in Chengdu, he said he has sold 18 to Chinese buyers. Eventually, he hopes to sell 20 per month. The vehicles can sell for around 3.6 million yuan, or $575,800.
Mr. Tang said he first noticed a Chinese appetite for big, militaristic vehicles when his company began selling customized stretch limousines to the Chinese market. One vehicle -- a stretch sport-utility vehicle -- sold well, he said.
The Gen. Patton is built like an armored vehicle but doesn't actually have armor, he said. The appeal comes from a projection of power, he said. 'Men like speed, power, luxury -- all of these things,' he said. 'Sports cars focus on speed but not power or strength. Armored vehicles show power and strength. But there's not anything in the middle.'
As for the very American name, Mr. Tang says it resonates with Chinese of a certain generation. The 1970 film ' Patton,' starring George C. Scott, was one of the first Western movies shown on local screens when China began opening up, he said.
The name, he said, came as a suggestion from his brother, who also works in the U.S. 'It's a name every Chinese loves,' he said. 'An American hero.'
Carlos Tejada/The Wall Street Journal
中国实时报(China Real Time)栏目在完成汽车展盘点之前，想花上一点时间介绍一些独特的汽车。
乔治巴顿的名字和概念源自唐庆杰，他祖籍辽宁，曾在底特律担任汽车工程师。如今他的企业美国超级礼宾车公司(U.S. Specialty Vehicles of Chino)生产乔治巴顿和其他改装车。他说，乔治巴顿是基于福特(Ford) 350或福特450皮卡车改装而成。
对于这个美国人名字，唐庆杰说，它能够在某一代人中产生共鸣。他表示，1970年由斯科特(George C. Scott)主演的电影《巴顿》(Patton)是中国改革开放以来首部在国内上映的西方电影。