China Car History: the Yemingzhu CTJ-3 ‘off-road jeep’
Published on January 25, 2013 by Tycho de Feijter
Today in China Car History another interesting vehicle from the Chengdu Tianyu Automobile Company from the great city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. This is Yemingzhu CTJ-3 ‘off-road jeep’, as it was called in its days. The Yemingzhu CTJ-3 debuted in 1994 and was made in extremely small numbers until 1998, in those long four years only 180 examples were produced.
The Yemingzhu CTJ-3 was based on the Suzuki Alto that was made in China by the Chang’an-Suzuki joint venture from 1988 until 2008. Chengdu Tianyu changed to small city car into a serious off-roader with increased road clearance, tough looking extra-wide bumpers, side steps, a bull bar, a heavy-duty roof rack and a spare wheel on the back. The 0.8 liter three-cylinder remained unchanged. Price for all that pretty: 80.000 yuan. The Alto was no more than 40.000 yuan.
Design bull bar very sleek. Due to its high price the Yemingzhu CTJ-3 sadly never became a great success. Looking back now we can say Chendu Tianyu was far ahead of its time, in both design and pricing strategy. Today we call a vehicle like the CTJ-3 a ‘cross’, ‘crossover’, ‘allroad’ or ‘xc’. It costs a lot more money than the car it is based on, and we happily pay!