Quick Articles (Or Multiple): Little Dumps, Big Dumps, or Just Trucks
For the times I am home, I typically spend a few hours banging out some vehicles as a nice therapeutic and creative exercise. The result from these past few weeks have been an array of Mei Ling trucks; from small to large.
The Smallest: 2003 Mei Ling ML1000
Introduced in 2003 and still produced today (as an electric vehicle), the Mei Ling ML1000 is the brand’s smallest car. It is powered by the company’s two-stroke seen in multiple other small vehicles making a whopping 36 horsepower.
Being unibody, mid-engined, and containing independent rear suspension, it was rather different from most Mei Lings.
They also came in van versions as well, dubbed the ML2020.
Being compact in size, delivering light items in short distances was its main purpose. Its inexpensive price also made it a rather durable farm vehicle, often seen in rural Guangxi.
Having poorly-tuned sway bars, a tall greenhouse and thin width meant the vehicle was very susceptible to rollover. The trucks were relatively well-off - the extent of their dangers consisting of a front wheel lifting off the ground. However, the vans were at the highest risk due to the afterthought nature of its rear cab.
A Bit Larger: 1980 Mei Ling ML330 Tipper
Powered by a larger 2.4L inline 4 making 78 horsepower, the 1980 ML330 was one of the brand’s first vehicles. Continuing the brand’s history of construction machinery, the ML330 was a small tipper truck built for lighter tasks where larger vehicles were not convenient or logistically sound.
Not much is very interesting about this vehicle, besides the fact that it existed and performed how it should…
…of course, before it would eventually rust itself away.
Still a Wee-Bit Larger: 2005 Mei Ling ML1007
The ML1007 trucks were compact pickups that were rather popular in China. Most were powered by a measly 89 horsepower 1.6L inline-4.
They were one of the cheaper offerings out of the pickup competition in China, and it showed. Many of these trucks did not last past the 15-year range due to structural corrosion. However, during those 15 years, the Mei Ling trucks were some of the strongest offroaders available on the market as lockers, 4x4 and skidtrays were standard. This helped the brand beat out the likes of the Huangdous and other tough competitors.
Yeah it’s a truck I guess.
Larger… Kind Of: 1990 Mei Ling ML1020
Based off Mei Ling’s minibus chassis, the ML1020 was about the size of a Toyota Hiace and looked like any other truck of that era. What differentiated the Mei Lings from its competitors however, was the fact that all models had 4x4 standard alongside rather chunky offroad tires.
Powered by Mei Ling’s older 2.4L inline 4 making about 97 horsepower and 125 lb ft. of torque, the ML1020 was on the slower end of the spectrum.
However, it did its job and did it well. Proving to be very dependable in both urban and unforgiving rural environments, the truck was very popular and is still used today by multiple construction companies. The ML1020 is still produced today, and sees limited military use as a rebadged Honghu vehicle.
What isn’t still produced today however, is a very rare crew cab version.
The crew cab seats up to 8 people, albeit not very comfortably.
Cool looking vehicle though, and now a Chinese cult classic .
Big Chungus: 1986 Mei Ling ML149
Strong off-road, tough with whatever load it carries, spacious for its crew, the 1986 Mei Ling ML149 is the poster child of the brand’s early success. It offered a bulletproof 4x4 chassis and mountain goat-like climbing capabilities in a vehicle that undercut its competition in cost by a significant margin. Many of its underpinnings were shabbily constructed, but it was done so in a smart enough way that mass production at ridiculous scales and low costs were possible, much like the Soviet T34s. As a result, safety and comfort were both neglected at considerable levels, leaving both a recurring concern for the operators, and people working around the truck.
The vehicle found many contracts in mining, fishery, lifting, logging, agricultural and other large-scale operations, which raked in wads of cash from private business and government firms.
To the point where you’d see Mei Lings adopted as pseudo-state produced vehicles under Honghu to tow ballistic missiles, much like this.
Many of these Mei Ling trucks have been run to the ground, with about half a dozen remaining original ML149s still alive. One sits in the Beijing Classic Car museum, cementing the first major success of the Wuzhou brand in Chinese history.