SHANGHAI, China — Soar Auto is a new name in the youthful world of Chinese automakers. It brought forth an odd-looking variant of the Brilliance Zhonghua for the Shanghai auto show — and turned out to be the latest iteration of a quirky specialist carmaker that has been around for about a decade.
Back in the late 1990s, the Saint Horse company of Qingdao manufactured bizarre four-seaters intended to look like touring cars from the 1930s — perfect for supporting roles in a wedding.
Eagle-eyed bloggers who spotted the model shown by Saint Horse, now renamed Soar Auto, at Auto Shanghai — actually on "display" in the parking lot, not on a show stand — learned that it was a rebodied Brilliance Zhonghua sedan. The car looked a bit like a combination of a gin bottle and a pumpkin.
A further look on Soar Auto's Web site revealed other flights of fancy: a Rolls-Royce look-alike, a Brillance Zhonghua-based wagon, a Nissan-pickup-based hearse and a slightly bizarre take on the Ford Transit.
What this means to you: Japan has Mitsuoka, and now China has Soar Auto, to make over-the-top one-offs that leave viewers' heads shaking.