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Shiny Red Wagon: 1955 Chevrolet Nomad

Like millions of other lucky kids, my twin brother and I had a red Radio Flyer wagon to play with. Those iconic little red wagons are still being made after 117 years with the company founder’s grandson as the current CEO and Chief Wagon Officer running the family business. Another iconic wagon, available in red and several other eye-catching colors, is the cool, collectible Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad. Of the three years of the original Nomad 2-door sport wagon, the first-year ’55 model is my favorite. The history of this particular Nomad isn’t shared, but the seller states that he’s selling it for a friend’s widow. Located in Richmond, California, this ’55 Nomad is being offered in an auction here on eBay where the bidding has reached $40,000 as of this writing.

Anytime you borrow styling cues from a show car, the results are usually unique. The sporty/luxurious Bel Air Nomad wagon was based on a 1954 Corvette show car and with its forward-slanting B-pillar, almost wraparound rear glass, and luxurious appointments, there was nothing else like it on the road. This example, one of 8,386 produced in 1955, is finished in a most attractive Gypsy Red with an India Ivory top. The paint is shiny and very presentable on a rust-free body and the chrome looks very good as well, although the seller shares that “the bumpers have chrome flaking off and the passenger side window is cracked but still functions.” I did notice that the Nomad’s unique headlight eyebrow, fender, and door trim is missing on both sides. But overall, it’s a head turner.

Unlike today’s mostly bland interiors, cars from the 50’s, including this Nomad, had colorful, dazzling interiors. The top-of-the-line Bel Air trim carries the red and white exterior theme into the cabin with style. The pleated and waffle-patterned seats are the coolest and I’m not sure when this interior was redone, but everything from the carpet and door panels to the headliner looks showroom new. The rear seat looks untouched as well and I like that the seller included photos of the cargo area with the rear seat folded down. Like the rest of the interior, the bright red cargo area is in like-new condition. The seller states that everything, including the lights, radio, and tailgate, works as they should.

The engine and engine bay are also clean and tidy with a shiny Edelbrock air cleaner sitting top and center. In the ad, the seller says, “car runs and drives very well 350/350 everything works as it should.” I’m not sure about the 350, but what’s under the hood should be a 265ci V8. Mileage is listed as “100,000” and it should be mated to a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. Even after 69 years, the styling of this ’55 Nomad still looks great. To me, there’s never been a better looking station wagon blending the right balance of sportiness and luxury. Hopefully, the next caretaker of this classic will make the late owner and his widow happy, and will fix the few little flaws in this stunning car and make it even more stunning (if that’s possible).

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Terry M

    yes, King, remember seeing new in the flesh, one of the best designs to come out of the 50’s, goes well with my loafer shoes. I’m a Ford guy but the 56 Parklane didn’t match up to the Nomads. Nice car and belongs where it can be maintained, not abused and unaltered.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo JustPassinThru

      “Parklane” versus “Nomad.”

      It doesn’t add up. Ford, postwar, didn’t seem to have the resources the General had – not in engineering acumen, and not even in marketing.

      Like “Safari” (Pontiac wagons) versus “Colony Park’ (Mercury wagons). Which one is gonna draw you? You want to ride to Colony Park, where the sidewalks match the street, and the HOA is ready to ticket you if there’s a newspaper on your stoop after 10am? Or…you wanna go on a SAFARI!

      Later on, under Lee, Ford figured out some marketing basics; but the 1950s were a tough time for Hank the Deuce.

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo scottymac

        Sure, that’s why Ford outsold Chitrolet in ’57.

        Like 2
      • Avatar photo JustPassinThru

        They outsold Chevrolet because they had a striking new body style.

        Which was problem-ridden and poor quality. So they won that race, generally, but lost the war – buyers said, never again.

        My father was one such – and, a German immigrant, he admired Ford, the man, and had owned a Model A and a Model B. But his 1957 was his last. Rusted out in five years.

        Now, did the Parklane outsell the Nomad? What are the resale values today, Parklane versus Nomad? Even, Ford Custom versus Chevrolet 210?

        Like 0
  2. Avatar photo JustPassinThru

    Man, I remember when these were just starting to gain respect…around about 1970. The Tri-Fives were, at that point, kids’ first cars – often fearfully rusted, usually faded, and driven like the owner didn’t know what an accident was about. Which was generally true.

    The 150 and 210s – including a lot of two-door sedans – weren’t seen as valuable, but even then, the surviving Nomads were getting pampered and polished. There were a couple in my general neighborhood – a 55 and a 57, both in great shape and both owned by young (thirtysomething) men.

    I wasn’t a Chevrolet enthusiast, inherently – those 1950s models looked to bloaty and soft for my eye – but I sure liked the Nomad. Always liked wagons, for the versatility. Haul with them, camp with them. And the Nomad, a two-door wagon with frameless glass and a styled roofline…no one would confuse it with a family hauler.

    Decades came and went, and I never got one. And today, few will get the chance.

    Like 12
    • Avatar photo Richard

      Exactly! By the end of the 60’s, the Tri-Fives were going en masse to the crusher. Their values were bottoming out at that time.
      Properationally fewer 150’s and 210’s survived, in comparison to Bel Airs and Nomads.
      As fewer of these cars were still around, their value was finally recognized. Today, it’s a treat to see one.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

      Educate and Aussie, WTF is a tri five?

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Dream55Vette

        Tri Fives are the group of Chevrolet cars produced 1955 , 1956, and 1957. The cars were popular when new and clubs formed around these three specific years. Reproduction parts are plentiful and catered by many companies for the tri fives.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo HoA Member

        With pleasure, mate. “Tri-Five” is a moniker attached to 1955, 56, and 57 Chevies, because they are all kind of the same car. Purists don’t seem to like that, but it defines an era.

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Ken W

        It is a 55, or 56 or 57 Chevrolet. Thus the tri (3) five designation.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Tom Verderamo

      These cars a timeless in their design, no doubt to steadily increase in value in the future years, you will never buy one for less than you can right now. Love those 50’s designs, the proportions were so pleasing to the eye!

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Raymond Keck

      So true, Tri-Fives were cheap in the 70’s. My first car was a ’56 four-door, no post with Cragars that I paid $60 for. What I would give to still have that car.

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Richard

    It’s the nicest Nomad I’ve seen in a long time. The ’55 is my favorite of the three, and this color scheme does it justice.
    This has been one of my dream cars, since I was a kid in the 1960’s. Good luck to the seller, and the fortunate new owner.

    Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    Richard ,I don’t know where you are looking, but I suspect this is a bondo bucket. They spent the bucks on the interior ,but the installation was not the best. The car lacks the detail you expect for a nice Nomad. Obviously the eyebrows and fender trim was NFG at a cost of 5 to 7 K they deleted it. The attention to detail and fit and finish is just absent. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t take a chance on it, even at 40 K you could take a big hit!

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Jay E. Member

      Can you explain why you feel this is a bondo bucket? I’m kind of liking it and dont see what you are seeing?

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo MRRICKL

        A magnet test will reveal the truth.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo 59poncho

        Trying to keep interest down
        I wish i saw it sooner it is only a couple hour ride from me

        Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    I’ve always loved the nomad, since I was a kid, and I’m a Ford guy, lol

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Remember on the show Home Improvement, Tim drops a beam on Jills ’55 Nomad? They had some great writers. I believe the car crushed was a BelAir wagon, but what a shock. Saw a lot of Chevy wagons, I can count on 1 hand how many Nomads, or Pontiac Safaris for that matter. Like none. We saw more sedan deliveries. The Nomad was only about $200 more( $2571) than a 4 door BelAir wagon($2371) , aside from the Corvette, it was the most expensive 1955 Chevy sold. Only 8300 were sold, making this a very rare car indeed.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Rw

      This is a good looking car only thing I would do is put a set of Radir wheels on it,For you folks that don’t know what Radirs are look up the Munster Koach..

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Rw

        Correction The Koach had Astos, Batmobile had Radirs

        Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Tom Verderamo

    These cars a timeless in their design, no doubt to steadily increase in value in the future years, you will never buy one for less than you can right now. Love those 50’s designs, the proportions were so pleasing to the eye!

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Jack Quantrill

    I had a ‘57, but the think the ‘56, was the best of the bunch. All, are classic wagons.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Moit

    What barn was this in?

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Doug

    Why are two plug wires strapped to the steering shaft just before the input shaft of the steering box?

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo John M. Stecz

    If it spent its whole life in California I would think the metal is in great shape and the color combo is as nice as it gets. Never purchase sight Un seen

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Bruce Harris

    From what I can tell,this car doesn’t have power brakes or power steering. The original power steering pump was on the back of the generator, and the generator drove the pump. Obviously, it’s been converted to alternator. But I can’t even see a later model type power steering pump,belt drive off the motor. And the drivetrain’s been completely changed most likely transmission too. And where’s the eyebrow molding over the headlights going back over the doors? To me.a car like this, that’s had motor changed, not even stock air cleaner or stock valve covers, is semi butched for my taste. Could at least keep the 350 appearing as much like a 265 from the outside, of course you don’t have the external oil filter like 265 has. without cheap aftermarket Mt aluminum valve covers and etc.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Claudio

    This car is for sale for the widow , another man has mysteriously passed away , i dunno but there are a lot of deaths ?!
    I wonder why there are so many…check out steve kirsch as he has answers

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Neil R Norris

      Funny how deaths happen, eh Claudio? Wake up pal.

      Like 0
  14. Avatar photo PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $47,600.

    Like 0

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