Tri-Five Wagon: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad

No production run of cars is likely more popular today than the 1955-57 Chevrolets, which became known as the Tri Fives. Out of nearly five million built, the rarest and perhaps most desirable today is the Nomad sport wagon, which saw assemblies of less than 23,000 across all three years. This 1956 edition is a rusty example that needs restoring but comes with a ton of new brightwork and a modern Chevy engine and transmission. Located in Salem, New Hampshire, this vintage project is available here on craigslist for the relisted price of $18,500. Thanks, Shawn, for sending this tip our way!

The Nomad was developed from a 1954 Corvette-based show car. While the front clip was standard Chevy fare, the wagon had a special body from the windshield back. The sport wagon was a concept that GM was flirting with, so to help cover production costs, Pontiac would offer its own version of the wagon named the Safari. The Nomad would see 22,897 copies and the Safari another 9,094 units, so the effort wasn’t a sales landslide. The sport wagon was gone when the all-new 1958s came out. Both designations would reappear on “regular” wagons in the 1960s.

This Chevy Nomad is from the middle year of production and – like all those wagons – is trimmed like the more upscale Bel Air. We’re told this vehicle has been sitting since the 1980s and runs and drives thanks to a 350 cubic inch V8 and TH-350 automatic transmission transplanted from another era. But its only good for moving around the yard as the brakes are for squat. No mention is made as to what else the car may need to be roadworthy, but you must assume plenty if it’s been largely dormant since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

The seller is a bit more optimistic about the condition of the body than the photos may show. While the body seems solid, surface rust is quite plentiful, and several places look as though corrosion could work through the metal if much more time is let to pass. The floorboards have been patched and appear to have some sort of rubber-like coating on them. The tailgate, body mounts and driver’s door are also asking for help. Fortunately, the seller says the frame is good and extra body parts are provided for the restoration.

We’re told that nearly $5,000 has been invested in all the chrome parts needed to re-do the wagon. So, whoever buys this project will already be off to a good start. That includes the aftermarket wheels and tires which look new. The Tri Five Nomads can run in the six figures depending on condition and originality. I would want to see the condition of this one’s body in person before committing to an undertaking this big, regardless of the upside. The seller is not opposed to a trade, complete or partial, but doesn’t indicate what might float his boat.


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  1. rbig18

    Lots and lots of body work to do, but I hope somebody tackles it for the labor of love.

    Like 4
    • porsche pierre

      bilnd love!

  2. Curt Lemay

    Of the three years, I think the 56s are the best. l always liked the styling. In my order of favorite, the 56, 55, then the 57.

    Like 22
  3. Maestro1 Member

    I’m with Curt. I have no room and this one is too far away and is a major project and is overpriced.

    Like 2
  4. Chuck Simons

    A fine example of a ‘metalmite’ (termites for iron) hotel on wheels

    Like 2
  5. Arby

    Nomad Nogood

    Like 1
  6. Gary Rhodes

    What’s with all the over priced junk today?

    Like 5
  7. Robert White

    It’s worth approximately $12k no more.


  8. John C.

    Still beats the VW bus from yesterday!

    Like 2
  9. HC

    Anyone is looking at a minimum of $10-12 grand in bodywork before you can even start the primer and paint. A good base clear after that is at least $8-10 grand which is about what theyre asking for the car as it sits. Too much work and money for that asking price. Nomad? No thanks

    Like 1
  10. scott m

    Almost didn’t see the rust because of those cool wheels!

  11. TimM

    It definitely looks like a car from the north eastern part of the US!! Just think one more northeast winter and it will be 1/2 price cause the car will be 1/2 gone!!!

    Like 1
  12. Bob

    More like $1850.00, and that’s debatable.

    Like 1

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