Whether it’s a ‘58 Edsel or a ‘63 Corvette, all collector cars have dedicated fans and admirers. But not many of those vintage machines can claim to be both rare and highly desirable from the day they left the showroom. Modeled after a famous GM Motorama concept, and sold as a high-price, low-production ‘halo car’, the first generation Nomad is a true all-time all-star. So, how do you make a car that’s already as hot as this shooting-brake Chevy even more desirable? You completely refinish its body, bolt up some fresh suspension components, throw in a smooth small block and line it with a nice combination of classic style and modern convenience. If you like your tri-five to be show ready AND fun to drive, but a Bel Air is just too common and too cramped, this award-winning Nomad is your next cruiser!
Despite the exceptional sales of Chevrolet’s youthful Bel Air, the brand’s higher priced Nomad proved less popular and, thanks to attrition, has now become even scarcer. Fortunately, this slick resto-mod has always been a solid, complete car that benefitted from decades of owners who were smart enough to know what they had. And recently, when it fell into the hands of Scott and Gary Miller of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, big money was spent on a thorough restoration. The owners of industrial chic Miller Brothers Hot Rod Barn, Scott and Gary rebuilt the Nomad with every intention of traveling the show circuit. But, after a year’s worth of trophies and accolades, the temptation to drive the car proved too great to ignore. Today, this Chevy hangs straight, mostly-original sheetmetal under a rich coat PPG two-stage that’s been buffed and color-sanded to a fantastic shine.
One thing about classic car guys is their uncanny ability to methodically plot, plan and execute even the minutest details. When the Miller brothers restored this spectacular cruiser, they probably spent months scheduling, budgeting and searching for the exact elements that would bring their vision to life. At the front of the car, a trademark, body-width bumper hangs below a straight stainless grille, clear parking lamps and chrome-trimmed, tri-bar headlights. At the top of that grille, a fresh Chevrolet crest is centered beneath a classic ‘jetbird’ hood ornament. At the back of that hood, dark greenhouse glass is highlighted by well-maintained trim, a simple chrome mirror and opposing stainless wipers. At the base of that glass, polished fender spears perfectly complement traditional door handles and monochromatic Bel Air emblems. And at the back of the car, a second, body-width bumper rides below vertical tailgate trim and blue dot Bel Air tail lights.
This sweet looking Chevy is powered by a show-detailed LT1 that, with roughly 300 horsepower, offers solid, reliable motivation. Built to tear up the street and wow show goers alike, the fully-sorted mill combines a sturdy iron block and lightweight aluminum heads with hypereutectic pistons to transform stout 10.4 to 1 compression into razor-sharp throttle response. At the front of the body-matched block, a Street & Performance accessory drive spins a chrome alternator and Vintage Air AC compressor at the sides of an “LT-1” branded air cleaner. Once air enters that cleaner, it flows through a bowtie-branded throttle body to a factory intake that’s bolted down over completely stock internals. High octane fossils are provided by GM electronic fuel injection. Sparks are sequenced through beefy Taylor Spiro Pros. Spent gases swirl through slick, ceramic-coated shorties. And cooling comes courtesy of a polished Griffin radiator that’s fitted with corrugated hoses, an electronic puller fan and a fully polished support. On the visual end of the spectrum, chrome valve covers and a polished breather perfectly complement bright red rail covers and a chrome brake booster. The glossy engine compartment, which includes a smoothed firewall, has been completely finished to match the car’s stunning PPG exterior. And niceties such as braided lines, polished fluid reservoirs and stainless hood hardware add the kind of flashy detail that’ll push enthusiasts right over the edge!
Throw the car on a lift and you’ll find solid floors that, along with a professionally powdercoated frame, still sport a restoration-fresh appearance. At the center of those floors, a proven 4L60E 4-speed spins torque to a ’79 Trans Am rear end that’s fitted with moderate, 3.50 gears. At the ends of that drivetrain, a fully rebuilt suspension makes good use of 2-inch drop spindles, 2-inch drop springs and Creative Controls power rack and pinion steering. At the corners of that suspension, GM disc brakes turn stress-inducing traffic into a relaxing exercise in sightseeing. Between those discs, polished, 2.5-inch exhaust employs great sounding Flowmaster mufflers. And all that mechanical goodness rolls on polished Billet Specialties Legacys, which spin modern 245/50ZR16 BF Goodrich g-Force T/As in front of aggressive 275/40ZR18 BF Goodrich g-Force T/As. Naturally, this impressive wagon’s undercarriage is clean and fully sorted. However, as mentioned before, this Nomad was built to drive, and it’ll be right at home inspiring stares on sunny weekend getaways.
Climb inside this razor-sharp tri-five and you’ll find a thoroughly modified interior that features dramatic style and enough great looking trim to payroll a small upholstery shop. Covered in vivid vinyl, the car’s bench and bucket seats, power Toyota Avalon units up front, are all-day comfortable. Beneath those seats, traditional California carpet centers a custom console, subdued Lokar shifter and modern Sony head unit between small, color-keyed floor mats. Opposite that carpet, fancy chrome bows highlight a tight suede headliner. At the sides of the car, custom door panels look great hovering between small billet handles, convenient power windows and snazzy, bowtie-branded lock knobs. In front of those panels, a billet-trimmed dash hangs custom Classic Instruments telemetry above factory controls for the Vintage Air climate system. In front of the driver, a polished tilt steering column spins a thick wood rim around a bowtie-branded Lecarra wheel. And behind the passengers, a custom cargo area is primed for lawn chairs and picnic supplies.
The sale of this road-ready hot rod includes a copy of its feature in the October, 2013 edition of Street Rodder Magazine.
It’s no wonder the Chevrolet Nomad enjoys such huge popularity, because it just doesn’t get much better than this slick ’55 resto-mod. With a plush interior, head turning body and modern car streetability, this wagon is the perfect combination of form and function. In fact, this Nomad is the best of all worlds!