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Sandra Jameson Rides Again in Her 1955 Chevrolet Nomad

Nomadic Tendency

John Gilbert Mar 13, 2015
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It’s a woeful story that almost anyone who has ever owned a cool car, truck, or custom motorcycle has heard. A gloomy-looking character walks up and compliments the vehicle’s owner, then breaks into how they used to have one just like it, but their spouse made them sell it. That’s kind of how Sandra Jameson’s story went. She used owned a ’55 Nomad in 1970, but her husband sold it.

Unlike most, her story is a happy one that evolved into 44-plus years of a shared devotion to Tri-Fives with that very same husband. You see, instead of dumping the old man, the two stayed together and have owned over 40 ’55 Chevys, with a sprinkling of ’56s and ’57s thrown in.

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The core of Sandra’s Nomad was a bone stock, numbers-matching primered project car with a lot of potential. Sandra said she’s a hot rodder, so restoring the Nomad to stock wasn’t a consideration. In place of the original 265-inch small-block with a cast-iron Powerglide, Sandra’s running a 383 stroker with a 700-R4. The 383 was built by Gary Willowby of Gary’s Machine Shop in Mesquite, Texas. Gary stuffed the short-block with 9.5:1 Speedpro pistons, an Eagle 383 stroker crank, plus a Comp hydraulic lifter cam. A Moroso oil pan keeps the slippery stuff from frothing at high rpm.

The top end consists of a pair of RHS (PN 202194) aluminum heads flanked with an Edelbrock aluminum intake topped with an Edelbrock 650-cfm AFB carb. Ignition is via MSD with the exhaust exiting through ceramic-coated Patriot 1 7/8-inch headers. Muffling is handled by a pair of Flowmaster 40s plumbed with 2.5-inch stainless steel pipes. Under-the-hood dress-up includes Joe Martin-made custom valve covers and artwork.

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An absolute essential for anyone serious about driving in comfort is an air-conditioning system, and this one’s from Vintage Air and is pressurized via a March pulley system. External heat is controlled with a custom heavy-duty radiator from Performance Rod & Custom. The 383 stroker’s horsepower is estimated to be in the area of 450 with 425 lb-ft of torque.

Speaking of torque, a Hughes 2,200-stall torque converter resides between the 383 and the four-speed automatic overdrive transmission built by Ron Peterson. Paul Peyton is the guy responsible for the 9-inch rearend packing 3.73:1 gears.

Unsprung weight comes in the form of 20-inch Coys wheels shod with Hankook tires in front and 22-inch Coys wheels stuffed into Hankook tires on the rear. Braking was upgraded with a CPP chrome toaster master cylinder pumping CPP 13-inch disc brakes up front and drum brakes in the rear. Suspending the vehicle is RideTech tubular control arms sprung with coilovers.

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It only makes sense that a car hailing from a state known for its cows has a complete custom leather interior from top to bottom. Starting from the headliner down, John Hernandez at Headliner Customs in Fort Worth, Texas, stitched baby-butt-soft gray leather. Joe Martin is the fabricator responsible for the one-off custom console that rests smack in the middle of a pair of Nissan 350Z buckets. The all-steel ’55 dash sports Classic gauges in a chrome ’55 cluster. Steering is accomplished via a Billet Specialties steering wheel perched on an ididit tilt column. The carpeting is a match of Mercedes-Benz gray and black tweed covering wall-to-wall Dynamat thermal acoustic mat.

The exterior finish of Sandra’s ’55 Nomad when it left Elite Autoworks in Dallas was PPG Viper Red shot by Shorty Ponce. Shorty is also the guy responsible for the bodywork that preceded paint. Once Sandra got the ’55 back in her hands she got a call from Martin saying he’d like to lay some graphics on it. Knowing that Sandra really admired Joe’s style of flames and skulls, Joe went wild, leaving no area of the Nomad untouched, outside, inside, even under the hood and behind the fuel filler door.

Sandra is fanatical about maintaining her Nomad’s reputation as a hard-charging driver, and has gone to great lengths to drive the car home from long-distance events, even if it means suffering a rare breakdown. Once, the ’55 encountered a suspension failure and thanks to the guys at the RideTech booth, they jumped in and made a repair enabling her trusty Nomad to make it home under its own power one more time.

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