Just the Facts

Year: 1957
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Nomad
Owner: Fred DeFalco
State: California

In the world of Tri-Five Chevrolets the Nomad has a special place—it is treated with just a bit more respect than the rest of the family. Of course there are plenty of station wagons but the Nomad is a special model in an already special year: 1957. A little background on the Nomad before getting into Fred DeFalco's highly modified '57.

Chevy offered two styles of two-door wagons, with the top-of-the-line being the Bel Air Nomad. There are many ways to tell a Nomad but the one that is least modified or "hidden" from the discerning rodder is the forward-sloping B-pillar located immediately behind the door opening. Rarely will you see a Nomad where the owner has gone to the effort to undo this styling cue. A few other Nomad giveaways are the sliding side windows, the rear bench, the distinctive reward roofline impressions, and the trim on the tailgate. It should also be noted that the two-door wagon could not be delivered with Bel Air trim unless it was a Nomad; thus all Nomads carried the Bel Air trim and the highly recognizable gold treatment to the trim pieces.

And that brings us back to Fred's Nomad. Look closely and you will see that a number of the telltale Nomad and '57 styling cues were removed. Note the absence of the hood ornament, the two hood rockets, the three faux louvers immediately behind the headlights on the front fenders, the external factory mirror, and the absence of the gold treatment on the Nomad trim. There's also what is affectionately referred to as the "California bumper," which is one piece made in the Van Nuys plant (possibly one other plant) but in the rest of the country the front bumpers consisted of three pieces. Fred's Nomad had a three-piece bumper that he welded together into one piece. Look closely and you will also note that the stock "V" that is on a '57 hood was "opened" and covers more area than in its stock configuration. Also, the "V" was used as a centerpiece on each of the four bucket seats as a detail element.

Dana Manier of the 401k Club was instrumental in making Fred's vision come to fruition. The 3-1/2 year build took a basket case Nomad and transformed it into the hot rod you see before you. The chassis is based on a stock frame with new Classic Performance Products (CPP) tubular A-arms and 2-inch dropped spindles plus more CPP goodies in the disc brake conversion with 12-inch rotors. The coilover shocks come by way of QA1 while the steering is a combination of a CPP 5000 steering box and Flaming River column topped with a custom '56 steering wheel featuring a cut horn ring and altered "V" on the center horn area. In back, the rear suspension is based around a GM 10-bolt housing with 3.73 Posi gears and stock axles. The factory leaf spring were retained but minus two leafs, again with QA1 shocks and four-piston calipers with 11-inch rotors. More corner jewelry includes the Budnik 16x7 and 18x10 wheels wrapped with Kumho 205/60R16 and 235/55R18.

As with any Bow Tie beauty there must be lots of heartbeat under the hood and this Nomad has plenty with the Chevrolet Performance LS1 crate motor that utilizes a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine belt system, PerTronix headers, MagnaFlow mufflers, a Powermaster Performance alternator, and a Matson crossflow aluminum radiator. Of course, that's once you have lifted the one-piece, all-steel engine cover that features '54 Buick fender portholes for ventilation. Ushering the power back to the rearend is a 4L65E and an Orange County Driveline driveshaft.

The body underwent subtle changes, all handled by the 401k Club. Bernt Karlsson of the 401k Club handled the bodywork and paint using PPG Cobalt Black.

Inside there are numerous changes including the use of a custom fabricated dashboard that utilizes a Chevy truck instrument cluster (vintage '55-59) filled with a Classic Instruments gauge package. But what is truly unique is the placement of the gauge cluster—rather than the traditional placement in front of the driver it is centered in the waterfall center console that runs from the dash and between the front bucket seats. The front buckets come from a Lexus while the rear buckets are custom, yet all are covered in a caramel leather by Ron Mangus Interiors. Dark blue leather is also used and sewed into position by Mangus over the center waterfall console and door panels, again made by Mangus. The carpeting is done in a matching dark blue but from German wool. Although not visible, all of the seats feature seatbelts from Juliano's. While seated in the very comfortable buckets you can count on Vintage Air for cool climes and a Kicker four-channel, 400-watt stereo for good vibrations.

Like we said the Nomad is a special Tri-Five, and this Nomad is special among its peers.