1957 Chevy Nomad
We recently got a ride in a 1957 Chevy Nomad owned by Dean Brown. This is the sixth 1957 Chevrolet owned by Dean and one of three cars from the manufacture currently sitting in his garage. He is a huge fan of the American automaker and is the president of the local classic Chevy club, which is very fitting.
Dean bought his first 1957 back in 1962. The air force veteran was originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and drive that first ’57 Chevy across the country three times. The man simply bleeds bow ties.
This particular car has undergone a full frame-off restoration. The car looks completely stock, but has some more modern upgrades under the skin. While the wagon has won best of show in car shows, it isn’t a trailer queen. No, this is one Nomad that sees the road on a regular basis.
Click past the jump (or scroll down if you came directly to the full article) to find out more about Dean and his 1957 Nomad.
1957 was the last year of the first generation Nomad. This was the final year of the two door version of the wagon. In ’58 the styling changed and the two doors where added for more practicality.
Styling of the ’57 Nomad is inline with the era’s Bel Air coupe (which makes sense as the car contains the Bel Air script and is often referred to as a Chevy Bell Air Nomad) and the two doors give it more sporty look than later years. It has space age styling with its classic rear fender fins and wrap around glass. Feature like the gas cap that is hidden in a panel above the taillights add to its charm.
As you would expect from an American car from this era, it is a good sized vehicle. It has somewhat of a boxy shape, but with just enough curves, such as the front fenders that frame the headlights and the bulge in the hood, to keep things from looking too square. The hood has rocket shaped details and the chrome bumper is capped off by a bullet design on both sides.
Details such as the round side mirrors and gold accent trim further add to the look of a bygone era. The whole styling is finished with the exhaust pipes that are integrated into the rear bumper.
For this Nomad the body was taken off the frame and put on a wooden frame to allow it to go off to get painted, after the entire car was sand blasted. An epoxy coating was put on the body for protection before the cars was painted. Mr. Brown decided against a multistage paint with clear coat and instead kept it more like it would have been originally with a single-stage paint.
It probably doesn’t stay as shiny without polishing and waxing as a clear cost paint would. However, if you keep up on the paint care it will have a reflective finish that looks great. This Nomad certainly did shine up very nicely when we experienced it.
The styling of the interior is just as special as the outside. The painted dash matches the body color and looks great. Sure padded dashes are much safer, but the painted ones just look so much nicer. If you are looking for plastic, there just isn’t much if it visible. Most items that you touch are metal or has a chrome finish.
The seats and door cards are vinyl which give it a more upscale feel. This car has been fitted with lap belts that are in the original style. While seat belts where an option, not many of these Chevrolets were sold with them.
With wraparound windows and plenty of glass all around, visibility is incredible. Thanks to this there just aren’t many blind spots.
The wagon design offers some practicality for hauling. However, the stylish slope of the rear tailgate makes it so you don’t have as much usable space as you could have in the rear.
Dean covered the entire interior with Dynamat to help keep the interior noise levels much lower. When he purchased the car in 1997 the previous owner had begun the restoration and had reupholstered the seats, so he used those. He did the installation of the entire headliner himself and had all of the interior bright work re-chromed.
Drivetrain and Suspension
The ’57 originally had a two-speed Power Glide automatic transmission. It didn’t take very long before Mr. Brown couldn’t take it anymore and took out the engine and transmission. For the engine in went a 350 crate motor that offers 290 horsepower. Special care was taken to make sure that the power plant retained the stock look.
For the transmission in went a four-speed with overdrive. Thanks to the change highway gas mileage jumped from about 12 mpg all the way to just under 20 mpg. A change to 308 rear-end gears also helps with the improved fuel economy.
Overall the suspension stayed largely the same. The shock absorbers have been upgraded to gas units, but the leaf springs remain in the rear end.
The car may still wear the original rims, but the brakes have been upgraded to power disk brakes. This helps slow the heavy car down much faster and is a good safety upgrade. To get the units to fit took some work requiring the use iof spacers and some fiddling, but now that it is done it all comes together.
The stainless steel exhaust is original and provides a good sound. It isn’t too loud for the type of car, but it still gives enough noise to help you get a good feel for your speed.
Prices of these ’57 Nomads have gotten to where they are fairly expensive. In researching values for an example in good condition with a 283cid V8, we found that you should expect to pay between $50,000-$70,000 depending on mileage and condition.
In riding in the Chevy Nomad you feel very connected to the road. You can feel each bump in your rear end in a way that is often muted in modern cars. Sure you bounce around in the seat a bit, but that doesn’t mean it is an uncomfortable ride. The wagon manages to float from bump to bump allowing you to feel it, but without it being too harsh.
In the below video we take a ride with Dean and get to know more about the car and the man behind it. The footage shows off the styling of the beautiful machine as well as showing it driving on some nice back roads.
Please Note: We apologize for the audio quality, we had new equipment on the way that would provide better sound, but it wasn’t delivered in time to make this video. The wind noise is there, but does get better after the first few minutes.
Trouble watching this video? Go to the original YouTube video.
The 1957 Chevrolet Nomad is a car that provides plenty of cargo space while keeping the sporty look of a two door. The space age styling and chrome trim are simply classic. By today’s standards, performance may not be that incredible and the ride is definitely old-school, but once you get in it you don’t care.
This Nomad just begs to be driven and thanks to Dean it gets that on a regular basis. It is people like him that are keeping these cars on the roads and not just on trailers. With the amount of people that stopped to take pictures of it or just waved as we drove past, it strikes a connection with others than few newer machines can.