1955 Nomad Ultimate Pairing of Past and Present?

Note the angle of the headlight trim with the B-pillar. Images: inomad55

The 1955 Chevrolet Nomad was inspired by a Corvette show car from the 1954 Motorama. GM design honcho Harley Earl made note of the public’s interest in this Corvette Nomad and asked his team to create a similar vehicle based on the 1955 Chevrolet, whose design was being wrapped up at the time.

While comparatively rare compared to other Chevrolet models, the Nomad has always been a popular model. This one, owned by inomad55 on CarDomain.com, shows that when 1950s style is combined with modern running gear, it just may not get any better.

The Nomad is not just a wagon - it's a two-door hardtop wagon!

In creating the 1955 Nomad, Chevrolet stylists transferred the top from the Motorama Corvette onto a styling buck and retained the canted, ribbed tailgate design. Unlike other ’55 Chevys, the Nomad received distinctive, rounded rear wheel openings – a feature that would not continue for 1956-57.

Headlight brows mimicked the B-pillar’s slant, then continued as side molding up to the rear edge of the door. When it debuted in February 1955, the Nomad was the most expensive Chevrolet passenger car, which may explain the paltry 8,386 built as much as its unconventional style.

In creating inomad55’s Nomad, Barnes Automotive of Arlington Heights, IL and Nostalgic Auto Body of Island Lake, IL used the best of old and new to create what’s possibly the best compromise between good looks and reliability.

Starting with a GM Performance 383 stroker crate motor connected to Flowmaster Super 40s with custom-made pipes, they changed the suspension to Ridetech ShockWave air-over shocks, with the front receiving upper and lower StrongArms and the rear receiving Bolt-On 4-Links. The latter bolt onto the leaf spring mounts without cutting and fabricating, making the update a simple task.

Wilwood Engineering 4-piston ventilated and drilled disc brakes add stopping power to match the horsepower, a concept that didn’t exist during the “Horsepower Race” when cars were dangerously underbraked. Surrounding these components are an ultra-straight body showered in a custom blend of PPG Indigo Blue paint and complemented by custom smooth bumpers, grille, and side chrome. This two tons of sculpture rolls on Intro V-Rod wheels with Nitto Invo tires, 19 inches up front, 22 inches in the rear.

GM Performance 383 stroker sits behind the custom grille.

Inside you’ll find everything you’d expect in a modern hot rod, such as leather interior (including console and subwoofer enclosures), English carpet, and suede headliner. The dashboard consists of Dakota Digital gauges and air ride controller with under-dash LED ambient lighting to give that 1950s-era neon feel even if a Wal-Mart has magically appeared along the strip.

Audiophiles who find that the sweet sound of Mouse Motor isn’t enough should be tempered by the Alpine 2-DIN head unit with four Diamond Audio speakers and amp, along with two JL Audio 10W3v3 subwoofers and amp.

Their efforts paid off in the 27th Annual Chevy/Vette Fest near Chicago where the Nomad scored an impressive 996/1000 plus the “Best Of Show” award. This Nomad also was part of “Pro’s Pick” at Goodguy’s Chicagoland Nationals in 2008.

About the author

Diego Rosenberg

Diego is an automotive historian with experience working in Detroit as well as the classic car hobby. He is a published automotive writer in print and online and has a network of like-minded aficionados to depend on for information that's not in the public domain.
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