LS Swap: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad

Of all the Tri Five Chevies from 1955-57, none are probably more sought after today than the Nomad. Equipped with upscale trim, the original Nomad was a 2-door sport wagon that Chevy marketed as a “halo” model. The nameplate would live on for years, but later models would not be as unique as the iconic first generation. This 1957 Nomad has a great many modern components and conveniences including a 5.3-liter LS V8 with a 4L60 automatic transmission. This one can be found in Farmington, Utah and here on Facebook Marketplace for $29,995.

The production Nomad was based on a 1954 Motorama concept car that was derived from the Corvette. While it was sold as its own model line, the Nomad was on a footing with the Bel Air. To dollar average development costs, the Nomad would share its body with the Pontiac Safari, also offered between 1955-57. As with other cross-pollinated GM cars, the Safari would differ from the Nomad in terms of its powertrain, front fascia, and interior. Other than the Corvette, the Nomad was the most expensive Chevy you could buy and came with the new 265 cubic inch V8 (later 283) as standard equipment.

Total Nomad production for the three years was about 23,000 units, with less than 6,300 copies built for 1957. The seller’s wagon is a work-in-progress that he’s been dabbling with for several years. No doubt the plan has been to modernize the nearly 65-year-old vehicle, so the engine and tranny are the least of the improvements. Other changes include a rebuilt 3.55 rear end, new shocks, a rebuilt front end with tubular arms, rack and pinion steering, Cragar SS wheels, and new BFG tires. But it doesn’t stop there. Add to all that a Flaming River tilt steering column, four-wheel power disk brakes, a new wiring harness, an oversize aluminum radiator with dual cooling fans, a stainless-steel dual exhaust, and a set of sway bars. The change in how the car rides and performs must be substantial.

The interior looks as though it has been redone and little if any additional work might be required other than some cleaning. There are vents under the dash that suggest the car had factory air conditioning at one point. So that perhaps leaves the body as the last part of the restoration that the buyer will need to deal with. The wagon is blue in color, but we don’t know if that’s the original paint. Both front fenders have been replaced, probably due to rust rather than physical damage as the hood looks straight. The front bumper is missing along with the hood bar extensions and front fender spears. Both rear quarter panels look to have their fair share of rust which might require replacement.

Along with the car, the buyer will receive several boxes of parts, both original and new that haven’t been installed yet. The resale value of these wagons usually far exceeds that of their sedan companions from the same model year. We assume originality and condition will dictate the higher prices, but will the modernization of this Nomad have any impact on its value, positively or negatively?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    I don’t see a negative in the mechanical mods and even though I flinched at the asking price a bunch of money was spent up to this point, not the least of which was on the complete interior. Lots of money but could be lots of car.

    Like 6
  2. grant

    Eh. Its a Nomad body on modern running gear (and an ugly steering wheel.) It would be really pretty finished up, and I’m sure it’s somebody’s cup of tea but it isn’t mine.

    Like 6
  3. Lance

    I see a few crappie mods on this creature so far but this is typical of someone who is not well schooled on body repair and how to proceed with modification! The body should have come off the frame after stripping and all the sheet metal been delt with and put into sealer then the frame mods begun the engine fitted and power train then make sure the body still fits and then go ahead with paint work! The interior comes last along with wiring and so on !

    Like 3
    • b-boy

      I was thinking the same thing. Whoever gets this is going to have to take it all apart again.

      Like 4
  4. TimM

    I see this car as something in my opinion needs to be completely taken apart again!! If the engine compartment would have been painted before the LS went in it would have saved a ton of money and time!! The rather large rust spots on both rear quarters is something I just couldn’t live with!! I’m sure there’s someone out there that might not mined but not me!! For the kind of money he’s asking I would want the outside of the car to look much better that big rust spots on both quarters!! Just my opinion!!!

    Like 2
  5. 57Chevy

    Why Bother? Unless you simply just Love working on cars + have unlimited funds, this project is Way over priced! By the time you get it done, you could buy one Already done! + In My opinion, a Nomad, like a Convertible, should be kept Stock!!!

    Like 3
  6. ACZ

    A crappy 57 Nomad with a cheap LS and trans, add in some easily bolted on parts and this is supposed to equal 29 Grand? Who’s kidding who?

    Like 4
    • wcshook

      “A fool and his money, are soon parted.” As others have mentioned, a body off restoration, would have been much better, needed repairs made correctly, and would have put it within range of the sale price. Seller is trying to capitalize on the rarity of the car for the big price, IMHO. With the overall condition, probably worth about half of his asking price. I am not trying to give a low ball price guess, but a realistic price.

      Like 1
  7. Mark

    Agreed. Spent all the money on trinkets and bolt ons before addressing the car’s significant core weaknesses. Best bet for seller right now is to part it out and sell the core for 10K..

    Like 1

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