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1956 Chevy Nomad: Old Hot Rod

1956 Nomad

When GM introduced the redesigned Bel Air, I doubt they had any idea just how successful the new look was going to be. They ended up building well over 4 million of these cars. One model is rather rare and extremely desirable today and that’s the Nomad. In 1956, they built just over 8k Nomads, making this example one of the rarest of the Tri Fives! As you can see this ’56 is rough and is missing a lot of important pieces. The seller claims it is an old hot rod from way back. It was customized with a narrowed Ford rear end and relocated leaf springs for wider tires. The body is going to need a lot of work throughout, but looks salvageable. I’m not sure about the seller’s $9k asking price, but given how rare ’56s are I’m sure there is a buyer out there for it! Find it here on eBay in Mooresville, North Carolina.


  1. Henrie

    As I am not from America , I still need to understand when a Chevy Wagon is a Nomad and when not . I even thried to apply the 2/4 door approach.

    • Josh Staff

      Hi Henrie,
      Yeah there is a bit of confusion out there on the Nomad. So from 1955 to 1957, the Nomad was a two door wagon and was similar to the Handyman and two door wagon. The easiest way of distinguishing a Nomad from the others are the vertical trim pieces on the tailgate and the angle of the pillars. Nomad’s pillars have a forward angle to them while lower model wagons have more vertical pillars. Now where it gets really confusing is that in 1958, Chevy moved the Nomad name from the two door wagon to the top trim level 4 door wagon. The way I tell the difference between the ’58 4 door Nomad and a standard 4 door wagon is the vertical trim on the tailgate, but you have to be careful there as that’s a pretty easy thing to add to a base car.
      Hope that helps!

  2. DENIS

    hmmmm…..nope. As much as I love ‘Mads, that ain’t the $$ I was thinkin’…..

  3. Doug Towsley

    I have not researched the prices on these, so may be out of line, but this thing is really rough and a challenging restoration. Not to mention no mention of original motor or drivetrain that I saw. I am known for taking on hard projects, but IMHO this is not a candidate for restoration. I also briefly owned a regular wagon, and a 55 sedan. I also had 4 different friends who also owned some of those 50s cars. The one thing ALL of us concluded in short order that these are ICONIC looking cars however as a driver, no fun at all. They drive like a vintage international harvester schoolbus with worn out suspension. If you want to suffer for your art, be my guest. But they are not much fun to drive. My advice on this one is find a modern chassis, and meld the 2 frames together or better yet, sell off the original frame and drop the whole thing on a modern chassis donor car. Would take some work but modern marvels like PS,PB, AC, and actually able to go around a corner without major pucker factor is not to be overlooked. Seen what a early 90s corvettes go for? Cheap cheap cheap. Thats the best option for this car. But first you need to get it down to around $2500 or less before committing to anything.

    • Jeff

      No expert either. But, if I had a relatively unlimited budget and free time, the MAX I’d offer would be $1,500.00 for this “parts donor”. It could turn out unrestorable based on it’s own nomad rarity.Strictly a parade car when done. Unless intricate re- engineering for modernization can happen.

  4. Wayne

    I suspect the bodywork just rusted away, and then the rear bumper just fell off to the position it is in picture.

  5. Jim Marshall

    Perhaps you should rename your site Junkyard Dog Finds because some of the stuff that appears doesn’t even qualify as junk. This being one of them.

    • Doug Towsley

      “Perhaps you should rename your site Junkyard Dog Finds because some of the stuff that appears doesn’t even qualify as junk. This being one of them.”

      Thats a little mean, Id hate to see what you would think of some of my projects. I personally like to see a big cross section of projects and barn finds. I especially like to see people take on the tough projects. Too many tire kickers out there who think they are car guys but the extent of their skills are to polish the chrome, buff out the paint, and call it a build. I wanna see welding patch panels, frame grafts, and body off restos, customs and period hot rods.

      • taxijohn


      • Jeff

        Here, Here. Sharing the “how tos” / new adaptations, etc…

  6. Jim Marshall

    Just being factual. I’ve restored 5 cars doing a lot of my own work but no body work. My first one was a Mercury Cougar with rust confined to the trunk lid and lip that was repairable without excess expense. However in a case like this Nomad it’s apparent the tin worm has taken control of the entire body of the car.

  7. Henrie

    Many thanks for making it ” clear ” .

  8. taxijohn

    The thing is if someone wants to restore a vehicle enough it can be done, it’s not just about money it’s about love & a challenge too. Remember if you have a rare biscuit tin then four new sides a base & a lid & its good as new again!!

  9. Doug Towsley

    I had one shop customer who i did 4 vehicles for. Nothing sane or rational about any of them. One of which was a 63 thunderbird that took so long that I took pix of the entire job and was a half year project and many are outside my shop and you can see my corn growing in my garden in the background in each picture. I also worked for another shop and was hired to do “The dead guys bikes” backlog. He had so many jobs backed up that people died waiting for them, some had been there a decade. Another bike was dropped off while the kid who owned it was still in High school. When i completed it he had just graduated college. POS Ural with all the early stuff. Why someone wanted it done was beyond me but the job paid $25 an hour under the table. He could have bought a new one off the floor. I have another friend up in Canada who specializes in Bentleys and RR. Its been an interesting conversation about his customers as well. Some jobs take over a year.
    My buddy up the road from me has a sign in his shop. “You can have it fast, you can have it cheap, you can have it high quality, pick any 2, but you dont get all 3” He has another sign for the self absorbed sociopaths that find their way to many of our shops, i have since adopted this mantra as well. “We overcharge every 3rd customer to pass the savings onto you!”

    • Jeff

      …Pick any two… hahaha!! Perfect!!- but not all 3 in ANY shop!!

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