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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Cars in China


The New York Times
April 18, 1914

Despite Lack of Roads American Motors are Popular Thereā€”Building Highways.

Although the chief portion of the colony of Hongkong is an island comprised almost entirely of a mountain ridge, in which roads have been constructed in the past only for pedestrians, sedan chairs, or jinrickishas, and mostly at exceedingly steep grades, the past year has developed a considerable trade in automobiles, according to Consul General George E. Anderson, stationed there.  Some forty or more are now in use in the colony and three garages are doing a thriving business in renting cars for tourists and pleasure parties.

"It has come to be a fashionable as well as a common thing," he reports, "for Chinese festal parties to add an automobile ride along the seashore to other means of entertainment.  Public cars, accordingly, are usually those built for large parties, not necessarily speedy or of high power, but roomy.  Well-to-do Chinese and Eurasians have begun purchasing medium to low-priced cars for private use, and these cars, mostly American, follow the usual run of such machines for family use in the United States.  Cars at around $1,500 gold and weighing about 3,000 pounds and seating ordinarily four or five persons are usually preferred.  American cars are in most general use, as they are about 30 per cent. cheaper, quality for quality. European makes are preferred for their strength and finish, but American cars represent more value in this market for the price.

"There is a strong movement in the colony toward the improvement of all roadways on the lower levels and on the mainland portion of the colony, so as to accommodate automobile traffic.  The extension of roadways into the interior of the mainland is difficult, in view of a range of high hills to be crossed, but a considerable amount of road building for military purposes has already been done, and further extension and widening of this system are being made as funds and opportunity are had.  The prospects of considerable road extension for motor purposes are favorable, and it is probable that the extension of a motor road to points near the Chinese frontier, particularly to Fanling, a popular golf course, will be made in the immediate future."

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