Classic American

IMITATION IS…

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China’s automotive sector has long had a reputation for… how shall we put this… a ‘relaxed’ attitude towards intellectu­al property, trademarks and copyright. A decade ago it was the head of GM going head-tohead with Chinese car company Cery, who were producing a vehicle so similar to its GM equivalent that the two cars could be dismantled, mixed up and reassemble­d using parts from the other vehicle – they were, effectivel­y, identical.

There’s no question of that happening with the Songsan SS Dolphin however, which bears more than a passing resemblanc­e to a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette and which will probably leave Corvette lovers the world over splutterin­g into their cornflakes in horror. There’s certainly a nod to the hallowed Corvette which inspired it, with the Dolphin making a splash at its debut at the Beijing Motor Show (where else?!).

Closer examinatio­n however reveals that the inspiratio­n is very cursory; the dimensions are all different, despite similariti­es with the grille, headlights and side coving. Don’t expect any V8 under the bonnet either – this is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, with a 1.5-litre turbo-charged engine and a 16kWh battery.

Chevrolet communicat­ions manager Kevin Kelly has explained that while Songsan didn’t ask for permission to base the design on the Corvette, it was sufficient­ly different and didn’t use any trademarks (i.e. the Corvette name or badging) so that GM was not pursuing the company for breach of intellectu­al copyright. And if you fancy one of these ‘unique’ four-wheel creations, they’ll set you back 590,000 Yuan, or around $86,000!

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