The Nushen JB6500 Is A Chinese Chevrolet Lumina APV Copy With A Chrysler Engine

Nusheng JB6500

This is not a Chevrolet Lumina. This is a Nushen JB6500. And it has a Chrysler engine under the bonnet.

The real Chevrolet Lumina was officially marketed in China from 1993 until 1996. The photo shows a shipload of the things arriving in a Chinese port, with General Motors saying thank you to the Chinese. It was a popular car that, somewhat surprisingly, stood the test of time rather well. Even today a lot of them are still around.

Note the Nushen badge on the door.

So it is perhaps no surprise that a Chinese company copied it. That company was called Jiangsu Nushen Automobile, founded in 1990 and based in Jiangdou city in Jiangsu Province. They made a series of vans, minivans, and small buses.

The Nushen JB6500 debuted in 1996 and was made in very small numbers until 2001. Nushen did a good job with the basic body shape and proportions. It does look like a Lumina. But it stands far too high on its feet, especially at the rear.

Size JB6500: 4960/1877/1750, wheelbase 2790, and curb weight 1730 kilo.
Size Lumina: 4933/1877/1656, wheelbase 2789, and curb weight 1769 kilo.

That is as close as a clone can get, and very impressive for the time.

The JB500 was powered by a four-cylinder 2.2 liter CA488 engine, sourced from First Auto Works (FAW), and made in China. This engine was a rebadged Chrysler K-platform unit.

FAW bought the rights, tooling, and production line of this engine from Chrysler in a 1987 deal. FAW used the engine for many of their own cars, including Hongqi limousines, and they sold the engine to zillions of small Chinese automakers, including Nushen.

And so it happened: a Chinese clone of a Chevrolet powered by a Chrysler engine. A true American miracle in China.

In the JB500 the engine delivered 87 horsepower and 157 Newton meter, good for a claimed top speed of 120 kilometers per hour. Gearbox was a five-speed manual, sending power to the rear wheels.

Price in 1996 was 129.800 yuan or $10,816 (1996 rate).

Nushen still exists today, now a subsidiary of JAC. They make all sorts of buses and specialty vehicles, and the JB6500 still stands proudly atop of their history page! The page shows the 1999 Nushen lineup, which furthermore includes an Iveco clone and various Toyota HiAce clones. The Lumina was in good company…

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I believe the body panels are straight from GM. This model could be found in GM’s parts catalog.