- Frame off restoration
- 1 of 7,886 '56 Nomads
- GM 350ci V8 (est. 250hp)
- TH350 3-speed automatic
- Power steering
- Front disc brakes
- Aftermarket air conditioning
- 17-inch Foose wheels
Go to just about any car show and you're guaranteed to find at least a few tri-five Chevrolets. As one of the most universally adored American cars ever assembled, they continue to be the magnets for builders and collectors alike. The problem with owning one is making yours stand out in the crowd. With a car like this '56 Nomad, that's guaranteed to be a nonissue. The beneficiary of a comprehensive restoration, its time-tested look is backed by hardware like a reliable new 350ci V8, TH350 automatic, and a set of Foose wheels that take its style to the next level. These relatively rare Nomads are always crowd favorites and, at well under the cost of a restored hardtop or convertible, you simply won't find a better, more versatile, or more enjoyable tri-five Bel Air.
So how rare are these Nomads? Compared to the 128k or so hardtop coupes produced during the '56 model year, it was definitely a limited offer on the General's behalf – just 7,886 of these wagon warriors rolled off the line. Factor in attrition and cars like this Nomad are getting rarer every day. For this car, preservation efforts started on the outside where the crowd-pleasing lines were transformed into an even canvas for a metallic copper color reminiscent of Sierra Gold. There's plenty of flake present, creating a color that stays quiet in low light but comes to life in the sun. The unique hue is accented by a coat of white that starts at the side spears and works around the rear of the car. By 1956 standards, the body work below the top coat presents well and panel fitment is impressive overall.
That sleek look continues into the GM-delivered details which, for the most part, have been left in place. At the front of the car, a body-width Bel Air bumper hangs below a straight stainless grille, clear parking lights and bright, chrome-trimmed headlights. At the top of that grille, a fresh Chevrolet crest is centered between a classic chrome “V” and a 'jetbird' hood ornament which looks especially commanding against the car's paint. At the back of that hood, a like-new windshield rides in front of greenhouse glass highlighted by well-maintained trim, simple chrome mirrors and capped wipers. At the base of that glass, deluxe Bel Air fender spears introduce the car's second layer of pigment while pristine rocker guards combine with traditional door handles and classic “Bel Air” emblems to lend the profile a finished look. At the back of the car, a second body-width bumper hangs below stunning tailgate spears, stylized Bel Air tail lights and a small gold “Nomad” emblem.
Under the hood, the goal was to upgrade power without detracting from the car's inherent class. What you'll find in place of the original engine is a well-dressed 350ci small block ready for show. The foundation is a modern GM block that sports a 10066036 casting number, suggesting that it started life as a Goodwrench crate engine. The block is dressed in black paint and topped with a set of cast GM heads tucked neatly under chrome valve covers. An Edelbrock intake manifold has been added alongside a single Holley four-barrel carburetor for snappy fuel delivery and throttle response. The front of the engine turns a new polished alternator, chrome air conditioning compressor, and power steering pump while the water pump pairs with a stock-sized radiator and a six-bladed fan to keep the bay cool. Unlike a lot of these cars, the battery remains in its convenient original location and the lack of a brake booster on the firewall opens up some room on the driver side of the engine. Spent gases spiral out through cast exhaust manifolds, hidden from sight by chrome covers. Overall, it's a great looking engine compartment backed up by the legendary reliability of a Chevrolet small block.
If quality was still a concern, a quick look underneath should permanently banish any doubts. The sleek Sierra Gold paint extends underneath the car, creating the perfect backdrop for smooth satin black frame rails and fresh hardware throughout. Behind the small block, a tried and true TH350 three-speed automatic not only provides smooth shifts but looks great thanks to a finned aluminum pan and matching flywheel cover. From there, power spins down the driveline to a freshly painted drop out rear axle suspended by leaf springs and new shocks. The front is equally traditional with the factory double A-arms and coil springs. When the roads curve, the ease of factory power steering is paired with power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes for a comfortable all-around driving experience while a set of 17-inch Foose wheels wrapped in 245/45R17 and 255/60R17 BF Goodrich Comp T/A rubber put the power to the ground.
Bel Air interiors are arguably one of the most stylish of their time. This Nomad makes a few updates but otherwise stays true to that original formula. Step over the Fisher Body door sill plates onto fresh Daytona Weave carpeting protected by branded rubber floor mats. Two rows of bench seats provide seating, wrapped in a copper vinyl to complement the exterior color. At either side, the door panels are finished to match with fresh hardware for the window cranks and door pulls. Slide into the driver position to get a better look at the sleek factory dash with its bright stainless inserts. Instrumentation comes courtesy of a horizontal speedometer with subtle temperature and fuel monitors integrated above. To the right, the stock controls operate the updated air conditioning system while a digital AM/FM/cassette radio sends signal to speakers throughout the cab. While the stock 18-inch steering wheels look great, they can feel a bit unnatural compared to today's cars. This Nomad offers a smaller diameter wheel that maintains stock appearance for the best of both worlds. That wheel bolts to a tilt column which also houses the shifter. Overhead, a taut tan headliner with stainless ribs stretches from the sun visors to the ample storage space behind the rear seats.
With top-notch OEM tri-fives continually breaking into six figures and above, this Nomad represents the opportunity to own a relatively rare and attention-grabbing piece of GM iron that's been carefully restored to better-than-new condition for under $60k. Best of all, it has the streetability of a modern car, a plush interior with air conditioning, and a color you simply won't get tired of seeing. If you're ready to be the star of your local shows, clear a space in your garage for this sleek '56 Nomad!
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What Customers Are Saying
After hearing good things about the people at RK Motors, I contacted them regarding consignment of my street rod. I found Tony Klein to be a pleasure to work with. He was very professional and forthcoming in our communications. He evaluated my vehicle and made suggestions of enhancements which would help ensure the desired result would be achieved in the marketing of the vehicle. We agreed on an acceptable sale price. Following the completion of the recommended items, I brought the vehicle to RK for consignment. After a thorough inspection and correction of some minor issues at what I considered a fair price, the vehicle was offered for sale. It sold quickly with me receiving the agreed value. I would have to repeat the recommendation that I received. RK Motors does what they say they will do, and obtains for the seller a fair and agreed value. What more could you ask for?Doug C.