The definition of overkill is subjective, especially in the car guy universe. What one enthusiast thinks is subdued might be outrageous to another, but one thing is for certain—this 1956 Chevy Nomad is over-the-top, but it still has the oh-so-slick lines of Chevy’s most popular station wagon. James Boitnott built the car at his shop, Boitnott’s Custom Paint & Body in Fairfield, Ohio, and spared no expense to make this Nomad a rolling billboard for the high-end work his shop puts out. The attention to detail would lead you to believe that this was a 5-year project, but Jim spent less than 10 months turning a rusted relic into the jaw-dropping Pro Touring machine seen here.
James ran across this car by way of a friend and customer. It was for sale and only an hour away from James’ shop, so he hitched up his trailer in the event the car was a worthy project. The car was far from perfect, but knowing the rarity and value of these classic Nomad wagons, he took a gamble and trailered the car back to Fairfield. There were lots of pieces missing and all of the existing parts needed major work so James put together a plan that would involve an aftermarket chassis, extensive bodywork, and a power-packed LS engine. The list of ingredients was quite long, but James’ plan came together as an excellent mix of modern technology and timeless Chevy styling.
Underneath, James didn’t waste any time on the original chassis. He rolled it out and ordered a brand-new rolling chassis from the Roadster Shop. The new frame is super strong, using 10-gauge 4x4-inch fabricated framerails, along with heavy-duty crossmembers and provisions for 3-inch exhaust. The Roadster Shop chassis is set up for serious handling with tubular components throughout and Afco Pro Touring coilover shocks on all four corners. A rack-and-pinion steering system offers great response, while the six-piston Wilwood calipers and 14-inch drilled and slotted rotors are more than capable of bringing the classic Chevy to a screeching halt. Also from the Wilwood catalog are the forged Pro Spindles and an aluminum master cylinder. Out back, you’ll find a triangulated four-bar suspension attached to the Strange Engineering 9-inch rearend housing that is packed with 3.70:1 gears and 31-spline axles.
Rolling stock for the Nomad consists of American Racing VF483 wheels, sized at 20x8.5 up front and 22x12 out back. The massive rollers are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Nero GT rubber, sized at 245/30R20 and 315/25R22 respectively. James dialed in the sizing, backspacing, and combination of finishes to perfectly complement the car’s high-end style.
Horsepower comes by way of an LS3-based engine built by Rob Morse of Total Performance Racing. The 429-cubic-inch combination consists of 4.070-inch Mahle forged pistons and a 4.125-inch stroke Callies crankshaft. A Comp Cams hydraulic roller boasts 239 degrees of duration on the intake side and 247 degrees on the exhaust, measured at 0.050-inch lift, while maximum valve lift comes in at 0.624-inch on both sides. Atop the bulletproof short-block is a pair of GM cylinder heads ported by BES Racing Engines. James relocated the coil packs so he could clean up the engine bay with a set of custom-painted Katech valve covers. Then, it was time to put the icing on the cake with an eight-stack fuel-injection unit from Borla Induction.
Spent fumes from the big-inch LS engine travel through a set of 1 3/4-inch stainless steel headers from Ultimate Headers and continue through a maze of 3-inch polished stainless steel tubing and MagnaFlow mufflers. Support staff for the 620-horsepower mill comes in the form of a Be Cool aluminum radiator with dual electric fans and a Vintage Air Front Runner pulley system. Additional engine bay modifications include Eddie Motorsports billet aluminum hood hinges, a recessed and smoothed firewall, and beautifully finished inner fenders. Moving rearward, you’ll find a GM 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission, modified by Coan Engineering and completely deburred and polished by James Boitnott. The transmission is operated by a Lokar shifter and features a 2,800-stall Coan torque converter. A custom driveshaft from Cincinnati Driveline sends power to the rearend.
Since James is a custom painter by trade, the bodywork and paint was an area that he could really show off, and that he did. When he bought the car, it had been sandblasted and then left outside without any type of etching primer to protect it from the elements. Rick, the “metal guy” at Boitnott’s Customs started from scratch on the body. He began by cutting the roof off of the car and disassembling the firewall and cowl. He installed a one-piece floorpan and then built the body from the ground up with new panels from Real Deal Steel. Body modifications include custom Lokar electric door handles, shaved emblems, shaved driprails, and custom one-piece quarter-windows by Vintage Glass.
After the car started taking shape, James began the bodywork process with help from the guys at Boitnott’s Customs, as well as his kids from time to time. James straightened and aligned the panels to perfection before applying the House of Kolor Shimrin 2 materials in a beautiful Rich Green Pearl and Light Cream Pearl combination. The two-tone paintjob is a classic design, but the modern colors and excellent finish quality make it pop. Every square inch of the car was color-sanded, buffed, and polished to perfection. Adding to the list of modifications, Boitnott’s Customs welded and smoothed the one-piece seamless front bumper and added exhaust outlets to the one-piece rear bumper. With miles of trim to refinish, James relied on Chromeracecars.com and Advanced Plating to knock out the chrome plating.
Inside, you’ll find more details, including four Procar bucket seats wrapped in leather and cloth by Darrin Cutter of Cutter’s Custom Stitchin’ in Dillsboro, Indiana. The Forest Green and Cream upholstery matches the exterior color scheme perfectly and the custom trim adds another level of detail to the interior. The dark green weave flooring is an excellent alternative to regular automotive carpet and adds a cool texture to this custom car. The all-steel console runs the length of the interior and houses the controls and vents for the Vintage Air system as well as the Kenwood DDX672BH touchscreen unit. The car’s custom audio system consists of an NVX amplifier feeding a series of NVX speakers installed by Jed Sibert. The smoothed dash is color-matched and treated to a Dakota Digital VHX cluster while a Billet Specialties Monaco steering wheel finishes off the driver area. Opening the rear gate reveals even more custom work, with all-steel inner panels and an outstanding enclosure for the audio system.
There is no doubt that James Boitnott went all-out on this 1956 Chevy Nomad to make it a showstopping creation that would be a shining example of his shop’s workmanship. The guys at the shop played a part in the car’s 10-month makeover, and James couldn’t have knocked it out of the park without the support of his wife, Melissa. What started as the decayed skeleton of a project car turned into one of the finest Nomads on the planet, and after James makes the rounds at local and national car shows he plans to wring the guts out of the 620-horse LS3 every chance he gets.