Chevy Nomad Balances Vintage Looks With Modern Performance

This Candy Red ‘55 Chevy Nomad Has Plenty of Modern Mods & Nods To The Past

By Brian Brennan   –   Photography By Joseph Dowling

There is little denying that the Tri-Five Chevy has a long and storied place in hot rodding. Among the Tri-Fives, the Nomads, regardless of year, are the preference for “favorites.” Marc Byers of Fort Worth, Texas, has long wanted to own a 1955 Chevy Nomad as it is his “dream car.” And why not? Marc has a shop that is more than capable of building his vision.

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Back in the day, all the Nomad (two-door only) bodies were made in the General Motors Cleveland plant and then shipped to one of 11 locations for final assembly. In 1955 there were over 1.8 million Chevrolets made, with approximately 8,500 Nomads. The Nomad was a distinctive-looking two-door wagon with its ribbed roof, chrome tailgate bars, slanted “B”-pillars, and the rear license plate mounted onto the bumper and not the decklid like other 1955 Chevrolets.

03 Front view of a modified 1955 Chevy Nomad with slanted B pillars

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Marc’s 1955 Chevy Nomad has numerous modifications, but the basic look does retain the factory sheet metal, followed by a great deal of bodywork and paint by Donny Bright of Bright Brothers using House of Kolor Candy Apple Red. We should note that this ’55 (like the ’56) does have the driver-side taillight opening, thereby allowing for refueling—only this one is an electronic function.

From here the once-stock interior now represents the “feel” of a bygone era but now offers the creature comforts many of us hot rodders have come to enjoy—and consider necessary. The nod was given to Paul Atkins of Paul Atkins Interiors for the extensive effort. The factory seating was discarded in place of 2006 GTO bucket seats in the front and rear and then covered in gray leather. From here the headliner, door, and kick panels are also covered in gray leather while gray carpeting was laid down with matching floor mats. The dash does retain its era-correct shape but is now covered in gray leather on top while the facing is in gray paint. There is one noticeable fabricated change to the dash adjacent to the tilt column topped with a Lecarra steering wheel, as this area now houses the push-button electronic shift control. There is also a custom below the dash panel that blends into the custom center console. Housed in the dash are Dakota Digital instruments, the Vintage Air AC controls and air registers, analog clock, and electronic shifter. There is plush seating, air conditioning, and digital instrumentation, so why shouldn’t there be electronic GPS and an up-to-date sound system installed by Mobile Sound Systems? The stereo is based on an Alpine X108U 8-inch screen digital media navigation receiver with a Focal FDP 6.900 amplifier, four Focal K2 6-1/2-inch speakers, and a Focal K2 12-inch subwoofer (mounted in the rear storage area).

04 Rear view of the 1955 Chevy Nomad with unique tailgate bars

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Resting beneath the vintage sheetmetal is an Art Morrison Enterprises full chassis with AME Independent Front Suspension and sway bars. In the rear, there is a Strange Engineering Ford 9-inch rear end with limited-slip 3.50 gears, shocks with airbags, Baer brake kit featuring disc brakes with 14-inch rotors, and six-piston calipers at the corners. The Nomad rolls on a set of Billet Specialties B-Forged 450 three-piece wheels, measuring 18×9 and 19×12, then neatly packaged with Invo Nitto tires that measures 235/35R18 and 345/30R19 (and that’s a whole lot of rubber).

Underhood, magic is supplied by the latest from Chevrolet Performance in a 530hp 7.0L (427 ci) Corvette LS7 crate engine. Keeping the V8 cool is handled by a Mattson’s three-row aluminum radiator while exiting the exhaust note is a pair of Ultimate Headers coated stainless tubes. To handle the potent crate engine is a Chevrolet 4L70E transmission rebuilt by Phoenix Transmission.

06 Chevrolet Performance 530hp 7 0L Corvette LS7 crate engine under the hood of a 1955 Chevy Nomad

Read More: LT4 Powered Tri-Five Chevy

Why go to such lengths to build this 1955 Chevy Nomad? The same reason all of us would do it: It’s fun, and in the end we get to enjoy those long rides with our buddies in their hot rods. MR

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Vintage Nomad in Appearance march 2024

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