No Reserve 39k Mile 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad

Taken at face value, it is easy to understand why this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad has already attracted thirty-nine bids during its auction. Its presentation is hard to fault, and it is loaded with optional extras. The odometer reading is one of the lowest you will find on a Nomad from this era, and the seller listed it with No Reserve. However, aspects of this classic are a genuine mystery, and it will be fascinating to see if our Barn Finds readers can provide illumination. The Nomad is listed here on eBay in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bidding has raced to $50,100 in this No Reserve auction, with plenty of time for interested parties to stake their claim.

The 1957 Chevrolet has proven the most resilient within what is known as the Tri-Five range. The ’57 Bel Air has been a staple of the classic community for decades, with the ’55 and ’56 models joining the party slightly later. The seller indicates this 1957 Nomad has been part of the same family since Day One and that they treated it to a repaint in 1969. That represents the first part of the mystery surrounding this classic. I have scrutinized paint charts from the period, and the color combination gracing these panels has me beaten. Nothing on the 1957 Chevrolet palette matches the Green, and the situation becomes more challenging courtesy of the color changing slightly in different light. If the seller had supplied a photo of the Trim Tag, that might have resolved the question. Considering the era in which it rolled off the line, the combination may be a Special Order, which is a question worth posing to the seller. The Nomad presents well for its age, with the fifty-three-year-old paint retaining a stunning shine and only a few minor defects. The panels are laser straight, but the total lack of rust will win this classic many admirers. The trim and tinted glass look spotless, and the wide whitewall tires add a classy finishing touch.

If this Nomad is as original as the seller claims, it appears the first owner took a “total package” approach to ordering their new wagon. They equipped it with the 283ci “Power Pack” V8 producing 220hp. The power feeds to the Posi rear end via a two-speed Powerglide transmission, with power steering removing the physical effort from the driving experience. Although most buyers weren’t concerned by outright performance figures, this Nomad’s ability to cover the ¼ mile in 18.1 seconds before winding its way to 108mph would have commanded respect in 1957. The seller emphasizes the originality of this Chevy’s drivetrain and its excellent mechanical health. They claim it has a genuine 39,655 miles on the clock but don’t mention verifying evidence. It is hoped the seller is approachable because the list of questions about this wagon grows longer by the minute.

Although the original owner may have had one eye on performance potential when ordering this Nomad, it seems they were also partial to their creature comforts. Therefore, it features factory air conditioning, power windows, a power front seat, a day/night mirror, and an AM radio with a power antenna. The photos show no evidence of aftermarket additions, abuse, or mistreatment. It is also another aspect of this classic that poses questions. The upholstered surfaces sport Black vinyl that looks flawless. There is no wear, with the same true of the carpet, rear cargo area, and dash. Where the water becomes muddy is on the question of the upholstery color. I have studied the options and trim literature for the entire Tri-Five range, and I can find no record of the company offering a single-tone interior trim option in Black. It will be interesting to gauge reader feedback on everything raised so far. For those seriously considering making a play for this Nomad, the interior needs nothing.

I may be missing the blindingly obvious with this 1957 Bel Air Nomad, and it will be interesting to gauge reader feedback. It hails from an era when manufacturers tripped over themselves to personalize cars for buyers with enough cash, and that could be the case here. We could probably unravel much of the mystery surrounding its paint and interior with one glance at the Trim Tag. Unfortunately, that is something we don’t receive, so we are flying blind. The Nomad remains a desirable classic, and even if this one is not 100% original, its overall condition means the bidding probably won’t end below $65,000. However, I wouldn’t rule out a higher figure because studying the bidding history confirms several potential buyers are making a concerted effort to own this Chevy. Do you blame them, and would you be tempted to join the bidding war?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member


    Like 15
  2. Rixx56 Member

    Not much to fault with this beauty!

    Like 16
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member


    Like 11
  4. Terrry

    These cars’ styling had personality to them..As in, humans created the looks, not some cad-cam program. Look at anything from back in “the day”, how it was styled…from soda machines to interior decor..

    Like 28
    • Ike Onick

      But Terrry, a human entered all of the information into the cad-cam program.

      Like 4
    • Richard Kirschenbaum

      Right you are Terry as far as it goes. Today’s designers face such an onslaught of government mandates that it’s amazing that come out with some of the beautiful machines they do. The designers of 1957 had enormous latitude and didn’t have to worry about every last ounce and its effect on fuel economy, and although today’s cars weigh half of what the offerings of ’57. they are far safer in any crash situation. Today’s designs are as sophisticated as fighter planes. Still, if you could guarantee my health, I would much rather live in 1960 than now.

  5. Terrry

    I believe the paint is custom, and the only thing I would have done differently is paint the roof to match the silver side trim instead of white.

    Like 6
  6. Rbig18

    Pretty sure this was originally laurel green. Look at the steering column and you can see. There was a closer to this darker green called Highland green but in two tone it came only with a second shade of green as an accent color and not white. I like this cars colors. Not original so not a survivor. Probably an older restoration with some custom colors

    Like 10
  7. Joe Haska

    I agree with paint explanation, but I have never seen an original with an all black interior.

    Like 7
  8. Nomader 55

    These seats are re-upholstered, not original material.

    Like 11
  9. TimS Member

    I think somebody had a mechanically sound decade-or-so old car that they choose to refresh cosmetically in a darker late 60s color scheme rather than trying to find a comparable new model.

    Like 7
  10. Dempsey

    At a guess, I would suspect the repaint in 69, did use a darker shade of green. And in reference to the styling differences between and the 50/60s era, and the cad-cam doings now. Watch Disney’s “Robin Hood”, and then watch some anime. Robin Hood done by hand, the other computer generated. That is how I would explain the difference in styling.

  11. karl

    As many have said here, this isnt a survivor , so its possible all the options listed may not be original to the car either. with the popularity of the tri fives and the massive availability of parts , it wouldn’t surprise me if many of the so called original owner options were later additions. Still, it looks like they did a nice job on it !

    Like 6
  12. RalphP

    I agree. The steering column gives away the original exterior color, and the seats look like something out of the late 1960’s. Also, that object under the dash looks like an after-market/dealer-installed addition.

    Like 4
  13. TheOldRanger

    I loved the Nomads….

    Like 2
  14. Tman

    Wow. It is so rare to see a fully equipped Tri-5 like this!! Not many Chevys from 55-57 had factory AC because of the cost. Power seats and windows too. But you can still hear “that’s just more to go wrong” thinking back then.
    This needs to be preserved in museum or at least an environmentally controlled garage.

    Like 5
  15. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Regardless if it’s what some define as survivor status, this is a really nice Nomad. I wouldn’t nit pic it at any car show. If the owner wants to claim it as survivor that’s his option, judges will know the difference.
    Now for my history story. In 1967 I came home from the army and went to my future mother in laws house. It was the 19th of May when I got there and we had two weeks before my girl friend graduated High School. Across the street was three Nomads 55,56,and 57. They belonged to three brothers who were into racing. They were constantly tuning those cars, upgrading and working on those cars. A couple years later they even built a garage twice as big as their parents house on the lot next to it where they worked on cars all the time. I don’t know what ever happened to them or their Nomads, but at the time I thought they were living the life of Riley.

    God Bless America

    Like 9
    • Richard L Chrisman jr.

      Wow! Great story,i would have made those brothers my best friends.

  16. Greg Gustafson

    When I was in High School in 1966, I owned a 55 Nomad. I preferred the lines of the 56s and the 57s were my least favorite. Was a posi traction differential even an option on these cars from the factory back then? I never knew anyone with a posi back then that hadn’t had one installed somewhere.

    Like 2
    • Rex B Schaefer

      Posi first offered in ’57 Chebbies!

  17. TMK

    My question is did they have cad-cam system back in the 50’s ?

    Like 1
  18. Jack Quantrill

    I weep over selling my ‘57 nomad for $750!

    Like 5
    • Greg Gustafson

      I bought my 55 Nomad in 66 for $200 and sold it two years later for $600…dumb.

      Like 2
      • Jack Quantrill

        We just didn’t know what the future held!

        Like 4
      • Ron

        We all have those sad stories

  19. JohnfromSC

    CAD systems came out in the 70’s, first on mainframe computers (IBM, Sperry, Burroughs) then moved to mid sized computers (DEC, HP). The early ones were 2 1/2 D, meaning they could not model complex shapes in 3D. But they still were highly useful and Boeing really drove the CAD technology for jet design. The Boeing 757 was the first jet entirely CAD designed ( on a Gerber system). By the early 80’s complex 3D surfaces could be modeled. I sold some of the first 3D CADCAM systems ( meaning they could also create the machine tool paths) to both design and make tooling for turbine blades, pump impellers, and all kind of products with complex shapes. By the mid 80’s the PC was powerful enough ( but slow!) to do 3D modelling, bringing 3D modelling capability to small shops.

    Like 3
  20. Bryan McDonald 6941

    Yes a posi-trac could be ordered in the Nomad, however I agree with earlier comments that this is not factory paint or interior the gage under the dash of course is an add on and I don’t know what that thing hanging under the dash next to the tissue dispenser is. I also agree with earlier comments that this does appear to be a very nice Nomad with some most desirable factory features it deserves to have the factory color and interior put back on it.

  21. Travis Johnson

    The color looks like fathom green to me, which would have been a very popular color in 1969 when they said it was repainted.

    Like 2
  22. Tjohnson

    It looks like fathom green to me, which would be a very popular color in 1969 when they said it was repainted.

    • Todd

      Looks like the color on my mother’s 1970 Kingswood Chevy wagon.

  23. Richard L Chrisman jr.

    Well if it’s in Cincy i should locate it and drive down to check it out.I live in Dayton so im only an hour or so away. See if i can’t gather some more cash.

  24. Bruce Harris

    but a 57 was not available with a posi rear, nor is the upholstery pattern correct for a 57.I came home from the hospital in my folks 55 nomad in 1956. It was 7 months old. Six or seven years later, pop sold it. ARound 1963, he already had an inkling that they were going to be collectible,so he bought two more,nice original ones and stored them away to just sit on them a few years. Over the years he also bought a 56 Continental Mark II, 57 Ford retractable hardtop,we called it a “flip top”. And a 58 cameo pickup, another 56 nomad, and a 41 Lincoln Continental convertible v12, 31 deluxe A roadster,24 model t sedan. Around 1988 he starts pulling some of them out and testing the market, the first two nomads he had bought sold immediately for about $8,500 each.little did he know they were going to go through the roof in another 15 years but he only paid $800 each for them when he bought them. But in 63-64 , $800 would buy you a real nice used car.

  25. Steve Kemper

    I believe it may have been a special order. My grandad had a 56 210 4 door 6 banger my favorite color teal green all over not two tone. Three on the tree with no power anything. Just a heater. Beautiful car.

  26. Jeff

    I asked for a pic of the trim tag, and it shows paint code 822D, meaning it originally came with Dusk Pearl (light metallic purple) body with a white roof. It shows interior trim code 691, which was black and silver (vinyl and cloth).

    Car is pretty now, but the original combination would be stunning. But bids are already too high to justify the cost of buying it and then spending $$$$ to put it back the way it came.

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