After spending many years away from hot rodding, just one trip to the Massachusetts-based Ty-Rods Old Timers Reunion was all it took to fan the hot rod flames and get Fred Morrison totally involved again—and for that he can thank Eddie Nason. It was the early ’90s and he promptly went home and built a very nice ’55 Bel Air that he still owns today. But he was just beginning; now he was dreaming of a Nomad.
Surrounded by custom-formed inner splash panels the fuel-injected 409 engine is now a stud
When he met Dan Wickett at the Goodguys show in Columbus, Ohio, Fred knew he had found the right man for the job. After purchasing a ’55 Nomad from a friend, Fred had a vision for the car and he was sure of at least three things: The car would be powered by a 409, it must be charcoal and yellow, and it must be driven.
The car was shipped from Fred’s home in Massachusetts to Wickett’s Hot Rod Construction in Piedmont, South Carolina. The Nomad was promptly stripped down, media blasted, and separated from the stock chassis. Since the plan was to use late-model Corvette suspension and transaxle, the original frame was rolled outside and Wickett set about building a custom chassis from 4x4 0.125-wall box tubing. The chassis incorporates mounts for an ’05 Corvette rear transaxle that was narrowed 8 inches. The modified factory torque tube mates to the 409 block and a complete C-4 Corvette front suspension was adapted up front. Wilwood brakes are found on all four corners and a Kugel underdash master cylinder completes the brake system. The RideTech air suspension levels the car and provides the perfect stance. The body is welded to the frame, making this ’55 a unibody construction.
After reducing the diameter of the wheel, and smoothing it completely, Dan Wickett wrapped
Underhood you’ll find what may be the best-dressed 409 ever seen. Beneath the incredible engine shrouding is a W-motor built by Dan Wickett. The ’64 engine now displaces a whopping 496 ci and is filled with an Eagle crankshaft and rods with Ross pistons. COMP Cams ground the camshaft, moving the valves in the Edelbrock heads. The Offenhauser dual-quad intake now employs a pair of throttle bodies to handle the air intake, while port injection has been machined into the Offy intake manifold.
With the chassis complete Dan Wickett turned his considerable talents loose on the body. Fred was certain he wanted a two-tone paint scheme, but splitting a Nomad for two colors is nearly impossible in stock form. To facilitate the Boyd Coddington charcoal over Millennium Yellow paint scheme, custom side trim would have to be designed.
The entire interior was hand-fabricated from the re-contoured dashboard to the custom cons
Murray Fath was brought in to help with the design and in the end the trim was a collaboration between Fath, Wickett, and Morrison. Wickett and Todd Leslie fabricated the stainless trim that stretches from the brow of the headlight to the taillight. Jaguar sedan door handles blend perfectly with the trim.
For the uninitiated, beyond the custom trim and color split you might think little else has been changed. Sure, most people notice the lack of vent windows and the one-piece wrap-around glass in the cargo area, but few realize the front post has been moved forward 5/8 inch or that the driprails are replaced with custom-formed stainless steel. The roof skin was lowered 1/2 inch and the taillights were moved forward 1-1/2 inches. The hood has been pancaked and the front is laid back an inch while the rear of the hood has been extended 4 inches, eliminating the cowl panel in the process. Of course all of this work, including the paint was done at Hot Rod Construction.
Two more Cadillac bucket seats are found in the back of the car, and the cargo area cover
At Hot Rod Construction everything is handled in-house, and when Wickett removed his welding helmet he slid behind the sewing machine. But before any stitchwork could begin there was fabrication to be completed. Dan reshaped the stock dashboard and moved the ’55 Chevy truck-inspired gauge cluster to the center of the dash. This leads down to a custom-formed console dividing four modified Cadillac bucket seats. Custom armrests were fabricated along with dividing trim on the inner doors, and then the stitchwork began.
The center armrest slides back to expose a storage compartment in the top and the controls
The pattern and design of the brown leather upholstery is clean and simple. Stainless trim separates the seats from the console, and a speaker grille inspired by ’60s GM cars was custom formed in the upper rear of the console. A cargo cover in the rear acts as a package shelf and makes the interior of the car become one unit.
Vintage Air provides cabin comfort while Alpine and Kenwood provide entertainment. All of the controls and switches are concealed in the console. The end result is an interior that is modern without losing the vintage flavor of the car.
The vintage clock takes on a cool appearance with a brushed aluminum bezel, while the Kenw
And so, after three years Fred and Nancy Morrison finally had that dream car. The fact that the Nomad never left the premises of Hot Rod Construction in Piedmont, South Carolina, is nothing less than amazing. The car has lived up to every expectation Fred had for his Nomad. As he told us, “Throughout the entire build, I’d come up with a good idea, send it down to Dan, and when he got back to me he had improved the concept every time. It was great fun working with him.” Now that’s a happy owner, and while this car has garnered awards such as the Pro’s Picks at Goodguys, the real reward is when Fred slides behind the wheel and drives the car to a local cruise night.
The roll down panel is now covering the stereo while the six-speed shifter mixes gears bac
The center armrest slides back to expose a storage compartment in the top and the controls for the lights, air conditioning, and stereo in the lower compartment. Slide the armrest forward and it is all concealed.
Two more Cadillac bucket seats are found in the back of the car, and the cargo area cover is formed to meet the seat backs. The fit and design of all these panels is nothing short of amazing.
The roll down panel is now covering the stereo while the six-speed shifter mixes gears back in an ’05 Corvette transaxle. Stitchwork on the interior is impressive.
The gauge cluster has been moved to the center of the dash and holds all gauges, including a subtle tachometer just under the speedometer. The Chevy truck influence is apparent in the design.
The lower compartment illustrates the level of detail throughout the car. Even this deep r
The ’55 Chevrolet Nomad is a beautiful car in stock form. To improve upon the design, chan
The custom fabricated stainless headlight brow is the leading edge of the side trim, and y
The tailgate straps have been replaced by a roller bearing system that lowers the tailgate
The gauge cluster has been moved to the center of the dash and holds all gauges, including
Big wheels from Budnik fill the wheelwells perfectly.