Classic, Sporty Station Wagon
You may think the heyday of the American station wagon is long gone. Far from it! Granted, many have made their way to the scrap yard; however, a few of these family cars continue to fascinate classic enthusiasts. The Chevy Bel Air Nomad is one such model. Our friends at Elite Autos in Jonesboro, AR have a 1957 Nomad that demands a closer look.
Americana on Four Wheels
It may have been a while since you’ve seen a station wagon on the highways, although many car companies are reviving this classic car style (VW, for one). It doesn’t mean they are forgotten. The station wagon holds a special place in many of our hearts. Childhood memories of baby boomers –and their families- center on these four wheeled giants. They are a true piece of Americana with a devout following like the International Station Wagon Club.
The Corvette “Waldorf” Nomad DÃ©buts
In 1954, the Chevy “Corvette” Nomad took the stage at the New York Waldorf Hotel as part of GM’s Motorama. Originally one of three Corvette-inspired concept cars, the “Waldorf” is a sleek and sporty two door wagon. It has all the classic appeal of a Chevy Corvette and was an instant hit with the public. Chevy rushed it into production, applying the name and the look to the existing Chevrolet Station Wagon. A total of five concept “Corvette” Nomads were produced for the New York show and only three still exist today.
(Photo courtesy of www.chevrolet.com)
Harley Earl’s “Dream Car”
The Corvette Nomad is one of legendary Chevy executive Harley Earl’s “dream cars”. He was an innovator in automotive design and developed the use of concept cars to gauge the public’s response. Earl pioneered automotive design techniques like the use of freeform sketching and hand sculpted clay models. We have Harley Earl to thank for the great looking rear tailfins on our classic cars.
The Bel Air Nomad is born
Though it was a hit at the Motorama event, the Nomad soon had more in common with the Bel Air Coupe than the Vette. Chevy felt they could sell more if it was associated with the popular Bel Air model, so they incorporated the Corvette Nomad design onto an existing body type.
(Photo courtesy of www.chevrolet.com)
“The Hot One” Proves to be All That
Advertised as “The Hot One”, the Bel Air Nomad possesses crisp, clean and thoroughly modern lines. With GM’s smallest two door body style, the Nomad comes with a V8 engine, a four barrel carburetor and a short stroke design that continued on in many Chevy models after Nomad production ceased.
Similar to Modern Hatchbacks
Produced from 1955-57, the Chevy Bel Air Nomad has chrome tailgate bars, a ribbed roof and slanted “B” pillars. Many of its characteristics are similar to modern day hatchbacks. Just as we do now, the front seat folds forward to crawl into the car. The bench back seat folds down to accommodate cargo. The two piece tailgate has a glass window that flips up and a tailgate that folds down. Many of these designs are still evident SUVs and cars today.
Bel Air Nomad Fully Loaded
At the time, the Bel Air Nomad was the most expensive car Chevy had to offer. Like its namesake, it comes fully loaded with a padded dashboard, interior carpet and chrome window molding. The Nomad was $300 more than the Bel Air convertible. Families may have found it too hard to justify the price tag compared with other station wagons on the market. GM ceased production in 1958 as demand tapered off.
Second Life for Corvette Nomad
Many collectors still regret that Chevy did not follow through with a more exact replica of the Corvette Nomad back in 1955. To answer this demand, the Superior Glass Works Company of Mulino, OR is making fiberglass replicas of the Corvette Nomad called the Superior 54 Sport Wagon, built on a C5 rolling chassis.
(Photo courtesy of www.hemmings.com)
’57 Chevy Nomad Still the One
There are still collectors out there today that would love to get their hands on an original 1957 Chevy Bel Air Nomad. The stylish body and trendy interior is still popular with car enthusiasts. Car clubs like the Chevy Nomad Club have cropped up all over the world in honor of these sporty wagons. They know a good thing when they see one.
Don’t Diss the Wagon!
Many envision the Griswold family car from the movie Vacation when they think of these rolling land barges. However you remember the great American station wagon, you have to admit happy times were had in them. From traveling cross country or just to school, they are ingrained in our culture. Before you even think about disrespecting the station wagon remember – your family SUV owes a lot to this maligned vehicle. Now, stop hitting your brother and turn around in your seat!
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
A Chevy Bel Air Nomad is a great addition to any classic collection. Let our friendly staff at Classic Auto Insurance help you find the right policy for your needs. Visit our website at www.classicins.com and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.