Mostly Original: 1957 Chevrolet Nomad

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As is often said, honesty is the best policy though the truth can be fleeting, especially when it comes to old cars. When I first came across this old Chevy, I was drawn to what it is, I’m a sucker for a Nomad. And, the initial pictorial presents well. As you dig through the listing, however, you learn about all the warts and bruises that this station wagon has acquired. And it is refreshing to find a seller that is so open and honest about a car’s condition. That being the case, let’s take a closer look at this 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, located in Hardy, Virginia, and available here on eBay for a current bid of $22,100, reserve not yet met. There is a BIN price option of $45,000.

According to the seller, this Nomad is a lifelong Virginia car, it has been off the road since the early ’70s, has had an engine swap and a repaint with a change of color. It sounds as if this seller has had control of this Chevy for a while but definitely not long term. It is largely untouched, in terms of modifications, but it is not original. The seller references it as a survivor.

The listing images show this Nomad off pretty well. The seller’s take is as follows, “The worst rust is the softball-size area in front of the right rear wheel well. There is some rust beginning in the right front fender behind the wheel well. The paint is chipped, faded, and scratched throughout. The chrome is okay but not great. The car probably looks better in the photos than in person, but it’s still presentable.” I suppose his description is what’s known as, “damn with faint praise”? OK, at least he’s being honest because, yes, it looks pretty good via the listing images.

The seller further adds, “The undercarriage is otherwise remarkably clean. The windshield is cracked, but all the curved glass is good.” Considering the bald-faced directness of this Nomad’s description so far, I’m inclined to buy the seller’s underside analysis, and yes it looks pretty stout. One thing throwing me off is what looks like six vertical “roof-rack” ribs longitudinally traversing the roof with the rack itself in absentia. Between the sweeping “B” pillar and the horizontal ridges over the rear portion of the roof, extending from left to right, a Nomad’s roof design is a work of art. These goofy looking strips ruin its entire character.

The only “fishy” story here deals with the engine. The engine has been replaced with a replacement engine and transmission that “runs and drives as it should.” The weird thing is that the seller claims that “The original engine is reportedly still in Danville, VA, partly apart from scavenging.” Why would that happen? Unless the original engine was heavily damaged and not repairable it seems odd. Nevertheless, this is second-hand information from the previous owner so who knows for sure. The current engine is a 283 CI V8, so it is basically correct for this car, just not the “born-with” item. Depending on its vintage, it could be 170, 185 or 195 gross HP version.  The transmission in place is a three-speed manual.

Moving inside, the seller states, “The seats were badly worn and the carpet in tatters. I repaired the cloth with original material from another Bel Air, repaired loose seams, and pieced together the front and rear carpet to make an all-original material carpet for the front.” It actually presents pretty well with the exception of the inside of the tailgate, things are a bit rough there. The seller adds that the spare tire cover is missing and there are a few rust holes in the spare tire well. That’s a pretty typical problem, I’m not sure how difficult it will be to source a replacement tire well cover, however. Apparently, not all of the dash gauges work either; perhaps they’re just not connected properly by virtue of the engine swap. Supposedly this Nomad was “gone-through” by a qualified restoration mechanic but while going through, he missed the non-working gauges.

This is a very thorough listing, both text and images, and it’s appreciated! It’s the comprehensiveness of it that can lead to a sale. Speaking of a sale, the BIN price gives one an idea of approximately where the reserve is set. My thought is that it’s a bit rich considering all of this Nomad’s shortcomings that the seller freely mentions. What do you think, priced right or a bit of a fishing expedition?

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  1. Will Fox

    While I don’t speak ‘bow tie’ per se, I see enough wrong with this `57 to keep me looking elsewhere. The writer is correct; those chrome ribs on the roof ruin the lines! And the color is WAY off of anything Chevy offered that year. Yes, the seller is fairly honest in his assessment of the car but his BIN for what I see is too high. Some Chevy buff with deep pockets will snap it up; they always do.

    Like 14
  2. Joe Haska

    My first reaction, when I saw the photo, was WOW! Then you get to look close and read the sellers “Honest” comments, and you realize ,why you need to see a car in person. I think the, buy now price, is too high. As much as, I love Nomads, this one will be a big project and big dollars, not for me, but I wish the new owner best of luck.

    Like 15
  3. George Mattar

    Way too much money. It is still a 63 year old GM car. RUST. While wagons are stupid money these days, this one is over priced.

    Like 11
    • Rich

      Good Parts car for a Safari!!!

      Like 2
      • Fred Alexander

        Ahhhh a Pontiac Guy – – -man after my heart. I have a friend in Claresholm who has a 55 Safari – – absolutely awesome vehicle.

        Like 0
  4. scottymac

    Love the expanding foam to keep the bondo from falling through. Sign of the times? Corvair I bought from a Dayton club member back in the day used newspapers. Guess foam is easier to find these days than papers? This is one REALLY rough puppy!

    Like 7
    • Ruede Mcgriff

      Had an MGB like that I was able to date the repairs with the newspapers and discovered that they were only 7 months before I got it and the rust had become much worse

      Like 3
      • Tom

        Truly an overpriced Nomad keep dreaming

        Like 3
  5. Comet

    The BIN asking price of $45K seems ambitious. I have learned that Ebay is a great equalizer. With a worldwide audience, buyers set the actual value of vehicles. Generally the high bid seems to be all the money for the listed vehicle. That said, this corona crap has really thrown a monkey wrench into everything.

    Like 4
  6. mainlymuscle

    Nomads are Gold !
    This one ,however ,reminds me of one of my old girlfriends ; “good from far,but far from good “.

    Like 10
  7. 37Hotrod

    I would check that roof carefully. My guess is that the roof skin was replaced, and that they used a non-nomad roof, that lacks the ribs in it. The chrome strips are there to cover that up, while still giving the illusion of a nomad roof.

    Like 9

    Walk away briskly. Much too much work to do on this one. Sorry I passed on a black one of these in the hot summer of 1960 on a shyster’s lot on Lake Street in Minneapolis……”Stuff” you never forget, and yes, I am this old. Nice to be here with you all.

    Like 12
  9. pixelpusher

    As 37Hotrod pointed out, there should be indents perpendicular to those odd chrome roof strips. On a Nomad they go across the roof starting at the trailing edge of the door and wrap around to the rain gutter. They don’t seem to be there on this car. What bugs me is there are 5 strips and then the correct 7 on the tailgate… At least get the number of them to match!

    Like 4
  10. Steve RM

    “Mostly original” Really. It’s been painted a different color. Engine and trans not original. Interior has been messed with (what isn’t missing).

    Like 2
  11. Steve RM

    “Mostly original” Really. It’s been painted. A different color even. Replacement engine and trans. Interior has been messed with (what isn’t missing).

    Like 0
  12. TimM

    The bubbles and rust in the pictures makes me believe there might be a significant amount of bondo in this car before it had it’s off color repaint!!! Could end out being a money pit and for that price that would be a tragedy!!!

    Like 1
    • Tom

      It is a absolute money pit for that money you could do a lot better

      Like 1

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