What is it that draws Tri-Five fanatics to a two-door Nomad? Is it the sporty look of a two-door, or is it the practicality of a wagon, or perhaps a combination of both? The fact of the matter is that GM never could have seen the popularity that would become the '55-57 Nomad craze. The '56 'Milestone Car' was produced in very limited quantity. Of the 7,886 '56 Nomads produced by Chevrolet, a fair number are still on the road in either stock, or hot-rodded form. Although the base engine produced a meager 140 hp, a 225hp V-8 was an inexpensive option. It was the availability of the 225hp V-8 that led '56s to the reputation of 'Hot Ones', a reference to the amazing power-to-weight ratio of the Shoebox Chevy. Despite its looks, this Classic Chevy weighed in a hair over 3,300 pounds, a number far from what the eye perceives.
When we asked Steve Bryant why a '56, he said that after having a '33 Chevy sedan, it just seemed like it was time for something different. While we found no magic in his response, we found tons of it in his choice of transportation. The Green Machine was a 7-year project that occupied every spare minute of Steve's time, including evenings and weekends.
Steve began by methodically removing the body from the frame. After the shell was removed, Steve sought the advice of frame guru Steve Szymanski for a bit of help retrofitting the custom front clip and torque-arm rear suspension. After the rolling frame was assembled with the '96 Impala suspension, it returned to Steve's garage where it was fitted to the freshly shaved and smoothed '56 Nomad body. Once in Steve's clutches, the '56 received four-wheel disc brakes and top dollar AFCO coilover shocks. With the suspension totally complete, the 502-inch big-block was fitted with custom motor mounts and attached to a 4L80E prior to instillation.
With the '56 in a pseudo-drivable state, a full leather interior was installed complemented by a custom Bel-Air steering wheel. One would think that all that leather would be a little much, but in this case it looks quite elegant. With only the wheels left, Steve made the bold choice to run a bigger diameter wheel in front than in the rear. This odd wheel/tire combo renders a G-machine look, with a cushy ride due to the 50-series tires in the rear. While Steve definitely took a risk running an unconventional wheel/tire combo, the look works! Good for you Steve, break out of the monotonous mold of 18s in front and 20s in the rear; somebody has to!