Desert Find: 1955 Chevrolet Nomad Project

The high point for Chevrolet in the 1950s had to be the “Tri-Five” models. They brought more modern styling to GM and a V8 engine to the Chevy party, all of which resulted in sales of 4.5 million automobiles. That included a new “sport wagon” with Bel Air trim called the Nomad. Developed off a Corvette-based concept car, the wagon didn’t take off with the public for whatever reason. Less than 23,000 units were built in three years, and the offering was gone by 1958. This first-year example of the Nomad is a rolling project that no longer has an engine or transmission or most of its glass. Located in Gilbert, Arizona, the Chevrolet is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $9,900.

The front clip of the Nomad was all Bel Air, but from the windshield back it had its own body and shared little, if any, with Chevy’s other 2-door wagons. Unlike other family station wagons, the Nomad borrowed its front doors from the Bel Air hardtop/convertible, thus receiving frameless door glass. The tailgate was unique to the Nomad, something it had in common with the Safari which was Pontiac’s version of the same wagon that sold in even smaller quantities. The Nomad was the most expensive 1955 Chevy that you could buy, except for the Corvette.

This ’55 Nomad was one of just 8,530 built that year, the wagon’s biggest sales period. It’s a project and one where some work has already been done. The Chevy is said to have spent considerable time in the Southwest, which no doubt has helped keep the vehicle from deteriorating worse. It has a few rust issues, such as in the rocker panels and headlight brows in the front fenders. The tailgate looks as though it’s already been replaced. Red and grey primer cover most of the body, so we’re not sure what color this Chevy was to begin with. The front bumper is gone, and the surviving one is also rusty.

We can’t tell much about the interior of this Nomad, but we’re told most of it is still there as well as the exterior chrome bits. But you’re going to have to source practically all the glass, although the seller says he has the pieces for the hatch, and the floor pans are said to be good. All this adds up to what may be a decent foundation to build upon, but you’ll have to find another drivetrain. These wagons had the 265 cubic inch V8 as standard. Maybe this is an opportunity to upgrade.


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  1. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Have I seen this one before – pretty sure it’s been for sale before somewhere lately.

    Like 5
  2. peter

    Nomad side molding
    nomad eyebrows
    nomad glass total $6,000
    interior $5,000
    3. Motor mounts are for later engine (side mounts) original front mount to the front of the engine block

    tomorrow i am going to increase the insurance on my 55 Nomad Driver, if this project is going for this kind of money

    Like 5
  3. greg

    I actually saw this car siting in a drive way this past winter in Arizona. Thought nothing of it as I need another unfinished hot rod project at home. Sold for $10,300. A lot of work to be done.

    Like 3
  4. chrlsful

    guess I’m logged in.

    My tri-7 will not upload ( its birthdate – July 1977).

    Whats a tri-five? Asked here once, no answ. Heard it for decades, only asked here that 1 time (all ways forget out on the st). Thnx~

    • jerry z

      Really? You’te not yanking my chain? A tri-five is 1955, 1956, and 1957 chevy cars.

      • chrlsful

        3 “fives” of the ’50s.
        OK, thnx.

        “…Really? You’te not yanking my chain?…”
        only if U believe that to B true. If so I yank it HARD.

        Been tradin (buy low, drive while restoring, free DD I could not afford, sell) cars, trucks, bikes 50 yrs (not much in 80s/90s I wuz rich then). Sail powered ocean racin our own (just change them out every 20, 30 yrs) and flyin is a different story. Truth? I do not like usa cars from very early 50s – very early 60s. May B Y I ask. Well, actually IS. Again, thnx to Mr z.

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