Fleeting Fame: 1956 Chevrolet Nomad

Fame is said to be fleeting, and that is certainly the case with this 1956 Chevrolet Nomad. The owner claims that it was an “extra” car used in the iconic 1973 movie, American Graffiti. Viewers only get a passing glimpse of the rear of the car, so there is no real way to confirm this. Barn Finder patrick s located the Nomad for us, so thank you for that patrick. The Nomad is located in Grants Pass, Oregon, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Its brush with fame hasn’t helped the bidding on the Nomad, because while it opened at $15,000, there have been no bids to this point. The owner has set a BIN for the Nomad at $22,000.

Leaving aside the cars reputed brush with fame, the Nomad looks to be a solid contender as a project car. The owner states that the only rust (apart from surface corrosion), is a few small holes in the footwell. The rest of the car does look pretty respectable. It appears that the car is a stalled project, and it would be nice to see it returned to the road, resplendent in a fresh coat of paint. The owner says that all of the stainless trim looks really good, while some of the external chrome will require restoration.

The interior of the Nomad is anything but average, but it looks to have been a pretty cool custom in its day. The seats are from a 1965 Impala, and the diamond-pattern upholstery is a nice touch. This material has also been used on the door trims, but it is all starting to look pretty second-hand. I suspect that a retrim is going to be on the cards, but it begs the question as to whether the next owner will try to recreate the former look, or if they will decide to follow a different path again. One thing that I really like is the pinstriping on the dash. It isn’t confined to that spot and appears in a number of different locations both inside and outside the car.

The engine bay is empty, but it isn’t the end of the world. I believe that the car does come with the engine and transmission that were fitted to it before this restoration commenced. These are a 327ci V8 of 1965 vintage, along with a Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmission. The transmission is still fitted to the car, and it also appears as though there is a nice looking set of headers in there as well. That 327 must have sounded glorious when it was running. We don’t get any photos or information about the engine, so we can only hope that it is in reasonable health.

So, there it is. If this really is the Nomad from American Graffiti, then it is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” cars. It is never going to be as iconic as John Milner’s ’32 Deuce Coupe, or Bob Falfa’s ’55 Chevy, or even Terry “The Toad’s” Vespa. This means that its alleged fame probably won’t add a much (if anything) to the car’s potential value. Viewing it in isolation as a simple ’56 Nomad, It does appear to be a solid car that should restore quite nicely. It is interesting that there are currently 32 people watching the listing, but no-one has been willing to make a bid to this point. Looking at the work that would potentially be required to return it to the road, the BIN price might be a bit high, but I don’t think that it’s outrageously high. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone eventually does part with the cash for it. If they do, I’d also like to see what they eventually decide to do with it.


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  1. rpol35

    There is also a panning shot of an accidentally parked 1967 grenada gold Impala at the curb of the main drag in that movie, I wonder if would have star value…….

    Nomad’s speak for themselves in terms of value so whether it was or wasn’t in the movie probably doesn’t matter in terms of value or collectability. I have had a “thing” for these since I encountered my first one, as a teenager, many years ago. I believe there were about 20,000+ manufactured over the three year run (’55-’57), so they’re not exactly rare but not particularly common either.

    The good news is that the Nomad shares a lot of common parts with its more pedestrian ’55-’57 siblings but the bad news is that there are a lot of unique parts too. This one appears to be pretty complete but it’s going to still require a lot of work & investment.

    Like 8
    • Roy Blankenship

      I SAW THAT IMPALA! I think it was edited out later because I did not see it in subsequent viewings. Good eye, dude! I love looking for car mistakes, there are plenty.

      Like 4
    • George

      While the cars were cool, the movie itself is unbearably boring

      Like 4
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    It’s worth it – IF it was in the same condition
    as it was in the movie.

    Like 4
  3. Will Fox

    Even if true, that blip in the movie is hardly worth hanging notoriety on. Sorry; no extra $$ just for here say.

    Like 8
  4. TimS Member

    This seller must be friends with the dude that claimed Dale Earnhardt bought the third-numbered ’81 Indy pace car.

    Like 1
  5. J_Paul

    This is kind of like claiming that I dated Cameron Diaz because of that one time she walked past me in the airport.

    Like 5
    • Larry Tate

      My dad and I had a very pleasant dinner with Angela Lansbury in Wickenburg, Arizona.

      I mean, she was at another table and all, but it was a delightful evening all ’round.

  6. RJ

    Hmmm – I wonder how much it is without the story?

    Like 2
  7. Jack Quantrill

    Why do people replace the good looking stock steering wheel with those ugly after market ones, like this hideous green thing?

    Like 9
    • Dusty Stalz

      I’d bet that was done 50 years ago when it was the style. They probably didn’t change it last week.

      Like 3
    • Don H

      Because it makes the car faster dude.🤔🏎🚦

      Like 3
  8. TimM

    Great car in not so good shape!! Definitely needs total restoration!!! Great start though!!!

  9. Andrew Franks

    Adam, this is my favorite Tri 5 design. I think ’56 was a thoroughly integrated design. If I had the room I would take a serious shot at the price, restore the car but not overdo it, drive and enjoy. Someone else should do it.

    Like 4
  10. John B.

    Love the car; loved the movie; like pretty much anything to do with cars! Here is a little known fact about the movie-it is one of very few movies that had no formal plot!
    Good luck to seller and potential buyer!!!

    Like 1
  11. Steve Leagon

    Guys , if it is or not a movie stand in , anybody that is a true car nut for old stuff like myself would be honered to have a tri 5 nomad in this shape . If I were the owner it would not be foresale ! Hope you change your mind and restore it an enjoy it !

    Like 1
  12. Larry Tate

    The cars and the music and a perfect cast buoyed by some folks who knew filmmaking produced the iconic American car-cult film. How many youngsters turned on to hot rodding (or blondes) as a result of watching that movie?

    As to the Nomad…what in the hell happened to it?

  13. ctmphrs

    Most movies nowdays seem to have no formal plot.

    Like 4
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      Life is like that, too.

      No formal plot.

      Like 3
  14. Dan

    Cars that get a lot of screen time and/or were driven by a first-billed actor have a legitimate claim to increased value. Those that are merely in the background do not. What I see here is a Nomad that needs a lot of work and has way too high a start bid.

    Like 1
  15. William Hall

    When I was in High School about a hundred years ago a friend’s brother had a pair of 57 Nomads, one was a daily drver that was nce original 3on the tree and a 327 under the hood. The other was being restored to PERFECTION. I saw it at a car show a few years later and it was perfect.

    Like 1
  16. Del

    Not sure this Hulk is worth 1/2 of the BIN price …

    Like 1

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