It’s been months since I first had this ridiculous idea to buy the cheapest car I could find on Alibaba, and there’s been so much convincing the bosses, fees to be paid, paperwork to be filled out, logistics to be handled, and just getting it from the warehouse to my house in David’s wonderfully janky-arse J10 pickup (which we’ll cover more later) that the idea that it’s finally here hasn’t even really sunk in. But here it is, and we just now pulled the damp cardboard off the Changli, and, oh boy.
To be honest, I can’t believe this day has finally arrived.
Here’s a video of the unboxing. In full disclosure, we did have to open it a bit so I could get in and steer it into position from the road, but that was late in the rainy night so I promise I didn’t see much at all. My responses here are genuine and unrehearsed, and, as I think you’ll see, I’m pretty amazed.
Here, watch for yourself:
It’s incredible, right? I’ve seen all the comments in these stories speculating about what a half-arse hunk of shit this will be, but I can absolutely tell you, goofy and absurd as it all may be, it is not some porta-potty on wheels.
The body is metal, not the flimsy plastic I assumed, the interior materials are way more substantial-feeling than I’d have guessed, and it even comes with a real spare and jack — this thing feels like, well, a tiny car.
David and I felt that was the big question to be answered here — how much does this actually seem like a car as opposed to some glorified mobility scooter or something, and I’m happy to say, this is a car.
It’s a car as much as an old Peel or Messerschmitt or Biscuter or even an Isetta is a car. A microcar, sure, but it’s a car. And, while I’ll save the technical deep-dive for David to do next, it’s shockingly sophisticated mechanically, at least on first glance.
A real steering rack, real suspension, a drivetrain that’s far more refined than the cog-and-chain setup I imagined — I’m really, really astounded at what I’m seeing here on something that sells for $US930 ($1,395) (well, like $US1200 ($1,800) with the batteries). And the fact it came ready with a US-spec charger and a bonus set of mirrors? Unbelievable value so far.
Next up, we’re gonna take this little beast for a real drive. I can’t wait to show you.