Pole Barn Find: 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad

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The Nomad was a 2-door “sport wagon” built and marketed by Chevrolet from 1955 to 1957. It was trimmed as a Bel Air to be the nicest station wagon that Chevy offered. They looked great, and yet fewer than 23,000 were sold in three years. So, when the cars were redesigned in 1958, the Nomad was gone (although it would return in name only as a trim level on a 4-door wagon). This 1955 edition sports a later 350 cubic inch V8 engine and Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. It’s going to need a lot of bodywork, but Nomads can fetch some serious money when done up right.

Inspiration for the Chevy Nomad (and the comparable Safari over at Pontiac) came from a 1954 Corvette show car. From the cowl back, the Nomad’s sheet metal was different from that of other 2-door Chevrolet wagons. The vehicle had a sportier look and prompted Ford to attempt to copy it in 1956 with the Parklane, which was a one-year wonder and quickly disappeared. So, apparently, the market for “sport wagons” just didn’t exist.

If you’re looking for an original Nomad to work with, this one is a departure. The 350 V8 and automatic transmission may be from the 1970s as are the steering wheel and Rally rims. The seller says it was a pole barn find and is 99% complete though it likely sat for some time. However, it runs and drives fine around the lot due to a new fuel delivery system and brakes. The tires are far from new and they should be replaced before taking it very far on its own.

At one time, this Nomad wore white/turquoise paint. But an older coat of just white is there now and lots of rust (surface and otherwise) is present. The seller acknowledges that the floors are soft as are the bottoms of the doors and tailgate, but believes the frame is solid. Offered by a dealer/museum, this vintage Chevy is in Rapid City, South Dakota, and is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $35,000.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Nomad or not that’s a bunch of money for something needing everything.

    Like 28
  2. CCFisher

    It’s not that hard to understand why the Nomad flopped. A sport wagon was a tough sell at a time when station wagons were viewed with the same disdain as modern minivans. Combine that with a price tag that was $270 (12%) higher than a Bel Air convertible, and it was just about sale-proof. Buyers could choose a Bel Air V-8 convertible with Powerglide for about the same money as a 6-cylinder, 3-on-the-tree Nomad.

    Like 9
  3. junkmanMember

    if it ain’t right, paint it white!

    Like 12
    • Lawrence Crook

      I sure miss my 55 Chevrolet nomad, ran into problems paying off my mortgage. I’d so anything to have it back. India ivory/ gypsy red. Bought from a friend in our Chevrolet club for $5500..

      Like 0
  4. Matt Murray

    I’m freaking shaking
    This is my brother’s Nomad he sold in Philly in early 90s. I always wondered where it went.
    The back window is the give away
    The straps for the tailgate are in the back.
    The transmission is a manual valve body
    Tim passed in 2000 at the age of 37 from heart arithmia. I wish I could buy it back it’s a part of him

    Like 45
    • Frog

      Don’t know what condition or stage the car was in when your brother had it Matt but from the looks of it now it looks like they ran out of money interest and ambition. I’m sure your brother would be smiling to know you were able to get it. Don’t give up. Strange things can happen. The Universe works in strange ways.

      Like 6
      • Matt Murray

        The Nomad was driver quality when he had it. Mostly used as a spare set of wheels or parts runner for his transmission shop. It was always a Pennsylvania car so there was rust but not terrible.

        Like 8
    • Jeff


      Get the owner to call you and work out a discount on the Nomad.

      Its priced to high for current shape and see if he can drop it to a more reasonable price.

      Then go for it and slowly restore it or just get it not rusty and leave it in a patina shape.

      I suggest possibly to have your late brothers name and transmission shop on the placed on the side doors with a cool logo .

      Good luck on the attempt to get the Tri five back in the family

      Like 9
    • MGM

      It’s a small world Mr. Matt. Maybe it’s meant to be. Look at all of your options and feel out the scenario. If you can handle it go for it. Although that is a few bucks. Good luck to you sir.

      Like 2
    • Ten50boy

      It’s fate brother. I’d do anything possible to buy my buddies 62 Impala or his Nomad back. They were sold when he was sick, before he passed. You only get that chance once. Reach out. If I currently owned it and you could provide details of your brothers ownership and photos, I’d be working a crazy deal. It’s a car guy thing. Good luck.

      Like 0
  5. Dennis

    It would be nice if you could score the 55 Matt!! Family ties pull hard!!

    Like 7
  6. Pugsy

    Just needs a new body to go with the 30 G’s of parts a feller is buying.

    Like 3
  7. Joe Haska

    I would change the steering wheel!

    Like 2
  8. Jerry Rodriguez

    Go for it Matt! This alignment of time will not ever happen again. Build this nomad to what your brother and you would’ve liked. Good luck

    Like 4
  9. STEVE

    I remember when a car like this was a 2500 dollar project car. Bought my first 57 sport coupe as a roller for 300 dollars. Times have changed since the 70’s.

    Like 2
  10. Matt Murray

    The Nomad was driver quality when he had it. Mostly used as a spare set of wheels or parts runner for his transmission shop. It was always a Pennsylvania car so there was rust but not terrible. I swear the 8ball air fresheners are the ones I put in it. Looks like whoever brought it drove it into a leaky barn and left it

    Like 2
    • Frog

      If you want to find out and know for sure Matt if you can find out the vin # and run a NMVITIS check, I believe it will give you the last owners. This service is available for dealers and might be for the general public. Typically it only goes back the current and prior owner.

      Like 1
  11. Charles Jenkins

    Sentimental value aside, there is simply no universe where this thing is worth what the seller is asking. Just from the little one can glean from the pictures, it needs basically everything. Someone would be well underwater just getting it acceptable daily driver status. Just the missing chrome spears on the tailgate cost a fortune. Nomads are cool and everting, but they are not worth a second mortgage.

    Like 1
    • Matt Murray

      The trim for the tailgate and the gold V under taillight are included,they were in back when my brother had it. Part of why I know it’s his.
      Yes even with someone doing the metal work themselves. And I would if I can swing it. This is a 20 -25k car now on a good day and only makes sense then to me because it was my brother’s

      Like 1
      • Frog

        Matt, Understand how the Universe works. Things come to us because we will it. When you act upon self defeat, the laws act upon that. If you thirst for water nothing stands in your way until your thirst is quenched. As it’s so with anything and everything else. Law of attraction. Don’t dismiss it from your mind if you truly seek it. The subconscious mind works in mysterious ways. Mankinds 3 worst enemies is pain fear and negativity.

        Like 2
      • Big C

        In Ohio. We used to be able to trace the ownership of our old rides. Never a name, but at least the city where it was residing, or if it met it’s fate at the crusher. So cool that you can at least see the car again, if not get it back. Good luck!

        Like 1
    • john atanasio

      I don’t think that a second mortgage would do it.I think that you may need a third.people with money has ruin owning an old piece of history and can afford to spend thousands of dollars fixing them up and end up losing money on them when they resell them but of course they don’t care because they have plenty of it also the likes of Barret Jackson auctions that keep asking for more.no car is worth that kind of dollars.

      Like 2
  12. Collura Jim

    Prices for Nomads are crazy. I guy in my home town had one, pro-restored, and had it listed for $450k, sold it at BJ for $230k. Still serious money for a Nomad.

    Like 0
    • Charles Jenkins

      450k, or 230k are both insane money for any Nomad. This entire “collector car” market has gone to crazy town!

      Like 0
  13. Lowell Peterson

    I would suggest that our feckless leaders continuous willingness to devalue the dollar makes the prices look worse than they are. Nice nomads can still be bought and driven for well under $100 K. So Cuda boy, Camero guy ,and Mustang guy, and many others driving ‘citizen cars are Rollin $100k cars to Costco in your town.

    Like 0
  14. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    Yep…..way overpriced compared to the other 55 Nomads that have been posted on BF in alot better shape as well as being more orginal to start with – hate buying someone else idea’s on modification.

    Like 0

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