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1955 Chevy Nomad - Sittin' On Cloud 9

With A Brand New Ride

By Dakota Wentz, Photography by Andrew Schear

Awww . . . the feeling of something new. There's nothing like that warm feeling you get inside when you open a new package and hold the goods in your hands, or in some cases touch, for the first time. Whether it's the new Rancid CD, a car, or even socks, the fact is it's new, and that's all that matters. But then as the minutes turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, and so and so forth that warm feeling fades, and then what do you do? Well if you're Bob and Nancy Smith, you go out and get a new toy.

Several years ago, Bob and Nancy built a '55 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop, just for the record it landed a spot on a SUPER CHEVY calendar, which they toured the country's show circuit with. But there are only a limited number of times you can show the same car in the same cities, so a change was in order. Only problem was they couldn't exactly pinpoint the car, or even the make of the car they would like to build next.

As luck would have it, the Smith's were vacationing in Bishop, California, and by chance they happened to run into the guy they bought their '55 off of. After some small talk was over, the dude happened to mention he picked up a '55 Nomad that he intended on selling. The next day Bob and Nancy took a trip over to his house to take a look at the car. It was rusted inside and out, and the couple decided it was a little too rough for the money he was asking for. But as the next few months went by, the Nomad plagued their minds, and they realized they had to have it. They called the guy and made an offer, which he accepted, and the Nomad was theirs.

They towed the new ride home, and contacted Rudy Ortega at New Beginnings Auto Body in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. After hearing Rudy's ideas for the Nomad, they moved the car to his shop where he began to start the transformation on the rusty bucket. New Beginnings started off by fabbing a new chassis. The Smiths's wanted the Nomad to ride and handle like a sports car, and that's exactly what they got. C4 suspension was on the way from Progressive Automotive Chassis in Baltimore, Ohio. Once the C4 equipment was installed, NB enhanced the chassis once again with the addition of Shock-Wave airbags.

The spare-tire well was removed to make room for the Rock Valley stainless steel gas tank. Next, Ortega and company went to work on the body. First the roof was chopped 1 1/2 inches, and new one-piece curved glass was ordered for the rear windows. The Nomad was then nosed and decked. The hood was also pancaked 1 1/2 inches, and built to open hydraulically to the front. Tailgate hinges were relocated, and then the tailgate was reworked to open electronically. More custom touch was added to the rear when the stock taillights were tossed and custom lenses were fabbed. Then the left taillight was built to electronically open and expose the gas filler neck. A drivetrain was in order next.

A 502 Ramjet was placed up front, but not before some serious detailing. Behind the motor sits a Corvette 700-R4 custom built by RB's Transmission in Lake Havasu, Arizona. Last but not least, the interior was crafted just as wild as the exterior. Up front sit Lexus 8-way buckets, and in back sit custom fiberglass buckets, while sorrounding them is custom built door panels. Howard's Fabricating in Lake Havasu covered the final product in Ultraleather and Ultrasuede. The finished Nomad was then sprayed in a custom mix of House Of Kolor Kandy Purple.

And what do you know, that feeling is back! In fact, Bob and Nancy are sittin' on cloud nine with the finished Nomad.

TECH SPECS Owner Bob and Nancy Smith
Vehicle '55 Nomad
Engine GM 502 Ramjet, forged aluminum pistons, hydraulic roller cam,
aluminum oval-port cylinder heads, REF Unlimited headers,
Flowmaster mufflers, estimated 510 hp at 5,500 rpm.
Transmission '89 GM 700-R4, The Converter Shop 2,200 stall, assembled by R&B
Transmissions and Chassis in Lake Havasu, AZ (928/854-8806)
Rearend Late Model Corvette
Suspension
Front Progressive Automotive custom chassis with Corvette front A-arms
and 12-inch disc brakes, Shockwave airbags
Rear Progressive Automotive custom chassis with Corvette independent
rear suspension and 12-inch disc brakes, Shockwave airbags
Wheels
Front Budnik Fontana fat lips18x8
Rear Budnik Fontana fat lips 20x10
Tires
Front BFGoodrich 245/40ZR18
Rear BFGoodrich 275/35ZR20
Exterior House of Kolor custom Kandy Purple Mix by Rudy Ortega, Lake
Havasu, AZ (928/854-1676)
Interior Lexus 8-way buckets in the front, fiberglass formed rear buckets,
covered in Chamois Ultraleather, custom door panels and floating
center console, Budnik Famosa steering wheel, ididit steering
column, Mercedes wool Palomino carpet, upholstered by Howards
Fabricating, Lake Havasu, AZ (928/680-9296)
Stereo Alpine MP3 player, Audiovox DVD player, MTX amps, JL Audio
5x51/4- and 6x9-inch speakers installed by New Beginnings Auto
Body, Lake Havasu, AZ (928/854-1676)
By Dakota Wentz
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