Date Published: 2024/02/06

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Classic Car of the Month: 1955 Chevy Nomad

An orange 1955 Chevy Nomad parked in-front of a green forest area.

What is that beautiful two-door wagon with understated tail fins, chrome arrows, and a corrugated roof that oozes 1950 appeal? It is likely a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad, a rare but always appealing ride that rose out of the 1954 General Motors Motorama concept project.

From Concept Car to Instant Collector Ride

In 1954, General Motors launched a collection of Dream Cars for their Motorama displays at auto shows. The Chevrolet Nomad concept created by Harley Earl was featured as a two-door wagon built on the Corvette chassis. Show attendees loved it! So, the car was sent into production, but with a few tweaks that gave it more interior room and a softer ride.

When it appeared in showrooms, buyers snapped it up as an instant collector car. The original Tri-Five Chevy Nomad was built from 1955 to 1957 before it faded from view. The concept and name would return a few times over the decades, but it would never again garner the same iconic appeal.

The Beauty of the Bel Air and the Corvette

Part of its redesign before launching was to switch to the larger Bel Air A-body. From the doors forward, Chevy incorporated the elegant lines of the Bel Air, including chrome fender spears, wheel covers, and window trim. The wagon end looked to the Corvette with its full-radius fenders, corrugated roofline, and forward slanting B pillar.

Inside, drivers were treated to carpeting and cloth seats. The rear seats could fold flat and give you a boatload of space for camping equipment while the tailgate swung open for easier access.

It was the ultimate honeymooner ride with sexy two-door styling and enough room for an epic road trip. Families turned to the comparable but less appealing Bel Air Wagon of the same year as it gave them the added convenience of four doors, which would determine the Nomad's short production run.

Upscale Amenities and the Right Mix of Muscle

While drivers indulged in a luxury interior, Chevrolet did not disappoint under the hood, either. The 1955 Nomad boasted some impressive specs.

  • Engine: 235 cubic inch inline 6-cylinder or the 265 cubic inch V8
  • Transmission: Two-speed automatic Powerglide or three-speed manual
  • Top Speed: 91 mph
  • Max Horsepower: 162
  • Weight: 3480 pounds
  • Wheelbase: 115 inches
  • Length: 197.5 inches

A Look that Still Dazzles in the 21st Century

The Nomad was never about a car that could hit the track or outperform the most exclusive vehicles built at the time. This was a ride crafted for looks, and like any fine sculpture, over time, car collectors continued to drool over its distinct lines. Its exterior still turns heads wherever it goes, from your weekly coffee-and-cars gathering to judged shows. This translates into a classic car that is ripe for renovation, hot rodding, and even becoming a retro ride loaded with modern amenities.

Hollywood A-listers Love Their 1955 Chevy Nomad

Why do we recognize the Chevy Nomad? Probably because some of our favourite media stars own them. Bruce Willis piloted a baby blue Nomad for years. It recently went up for sale with bids running well over $50,000, after changing hands twice before.

Troy Ladd from Hollywood Hot Rods gave a Nomad a complete makeover for his customer. The finished project was dressed in classic red and white with a custom leather interior that would go on to win the 2023 Grand National Roadster Show.

No Rules Mean There is Value in Mint Condition and Modern Rods

If you were to consider adding a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad to your classic car collection, does it make more sense to look for one with original parts or a restored ride featuring some current tech toys?

For this car, go with your gut. Nomads are winning trophies and raking in the bids as both mint condition and custom hot rods. It is the sleek lines of its sheet metal that make the crowds eager to open their wallets.

Some 1955 Chevrolet Nomads that recently went to auction are earning prices ranging from $70,000 at NFI Empire to $165,000 via an online bidder--with the high-end not always making the reserve. The lucky buyer who gets the gavel simply falls in love with this car.

Remember to Protect Your Classic Car

Whether you own a rare 1955 Nomad or a 1970 Pontiac Le Mans, your collector car should be covered by classic car insurance. The experts at Orbit Insurance Services can help you find a policy that can make recovering from an accident, theft, or fire a reality and get you ready for the next British Columbia Classic & Custom Car Show. Give us a click or call today.