Though its lineage was short, the Chevy Nomad was a groundbreaking vehicle that offered speed and power in a roomy body. Unlike no other, it was a car that put the sports station wagon on the map.
Produced off and on from 1955 until 1972, the Nomad brought a style to the road that has been imitated but never duplicated since. It is now one of the most sought-after classic cars on the road, and it will continue to be a dream car for many who want to embrace the lifestyle that the car promoted.
Let the Journey Begin
In 1953, Chevy began to create the concept for what would become the most iconic station wagon of all times. The original idea was to present a wagon with a front end similar to the ‘53 Corvette, an attractive back end with an aerodynamic appearance, with the capacity to accommodate a family while still packing the punch of a higher-powered vehicle. The Nomad was born.
Though the green light was given to begin production, the powers that be wanted to see some changes on the car's final design, so they moved from the appearance of the Vette to the Bel Air.
The Nomad was equipped with a straight six and could pull about 150 horses while carrying a family of six. Additional features unique to this ride included sliding quarter windows, a grooved roof, two doors, and tons of chrome.
The interior of the car was just as unique as its outside. Nomads were offered with multiple solid color seating options and many two-tone options.
The first Nomad model was made available to the public in 1955. It offered two engines: an inline 6 and a V8 for only a couple hundred more dollars. This was one of Chevy’s most expensive vehicles on the market at the time, selling for around $2,600, around the equivalent of $27,000 today. There were about 8,300 of these fun-time wagons produced for consumers this year.
Roamin’ to Year Two
In 1956, few changes were made to the car that was not simply stylistic. As per the standard at the time, cars’ appearances tended to alter fairly drastically from year to year.
For the Nomad, the significant aesthetic changes occurred through a wider grill, a padded dashboard, and a new gas cap hidden from view by a flap, similar to what we expect to see on modern vehicles.
Third Time Was Not the Charm
While 1957 was not the official last year that Chevy produced the Nomad, it would be the final year of production for the luxury wagon as it was initially intended to be.
This year’s Nomad again received an updated design, but under the hood was where it was really changed. The new incarnation of the lux wagon offered the public cutting-edge technology, including a new Turboglide transmission and newly introduced fuel injection.
Additionally, the Nomad had a larger optional V8 engine. The engine size combined with the new technology made the wagon a powerful passenger vehicle, to say the very least.
Unfortunately, the buying public resisted the temptation to sign their name on the dotted line when it came to purchasing. They reported their trepidations didn’t reflect their lack of confidence in the Nomad’s performance; sales suffered due to the car's price point.
Due to the car’s advanced technology and the excessive amount of chrome used to produce each model, the Nomad continued to be in the upper echelon of vehicles in terms of price. This deterred sales, and it caused Chevy to return to the drawing board with the Nomad, and the car’s heyday came to a close.
With less than 7,000 of the ‘57 Nomad produced, this is arguably the most sought-after of all its models.
No Country for Old Cars
Chevy continued to produce a vehicle touted at the “Nomad” from ‘58 - ‘ 72. It was turned into a domesticated four-door wagon, and it never regained popularity amongst buyers.
There were a couple of half-hearted attempts by Chevy to revive the Nomad by way of limited release models throughout the years. Still, they could not recapture to the spirit of the original good-time sporty wagon it once was.
The History of the Chevy Nomad: May it Continue to Roam
Though the Chevy Nomad only roamed the assembly lines in America as the original luxury sport wagon for a short period of time, those three years gave way to a true legend of the road. Collectors today still see the Nomad as a dream car that is highly collectible and still fun to drive.
Never able to regain its true glory in its later incarnations, the Nomad road off into the sunset, and there is no doubt that it still embodies American’s spirit of restlessness and their need to explore the open road. May it continue to roam.