Nomad known to all

Chevrolet Nomad

NOT many American estate cars of the mid-1950s achieved cult status but the Chevrolet Nomad certainly did.

This station wagon which appeared in 1955 was very different in being a two door.

It leapt to become Chevrolet's style leader and one of the stars of the General Motors mid-50s galaxy of dazzling cars.

The Nomad differed from other station wagons of the era by having unique styling more reminiscent of a hardtop sedan than that of a standard station wagon.

Chevrolet shared this body with its sister marque Pontiac which named it Safari.

But why would you want a two-door estate? These days it sounds daft, but Britain did it in the 1950s with the much smaller Hillman Husky.

The design of the Nomad was first seen in as a show car at the GM Motorama in 1954. This flight of fancy was one of head designer Harley Earl's so called ‘dream cars' and extended the two-door theme from rival Ford's Country Squire estate of 1950.

GM bosses liked the design but insisted that it be transferred to a standard model platform and the Bel Air sprang immediately to mind.

Nomads, like the Bel Airs, were very well equipped with carpets, chrome spears on front fenders, chrome window moldings, and full wheel covers.

For 1955, Chevrolets gained a V8 option and this was the touch that made this car so great.

The new 4.3-litre engine featured a modern OHV design with a twin barrel carburettor with 126bhp on tap. A more powerful version rendered 180bhp.

While considered to be a milestone in vehicle design, General Motors discontinued the original Nomad at the end of the 1957 model year with the introduction of a new body for 1958.

What many do not realise is that this model was a forerunner of the modern hatchbacks. By American standards it had a short wheelbase and overall length and was very well proportioned.

It was GM's smallest, a two-door bodystyle with a rear bench seat that folded down to accommodate cargo, and a two-piece tailgate with a glass upper portion that swung up, with a tailgate that folded down were the features that made the Nomad popular.

It also shares many visual characteristics with the 1970 Range Range Rover but without the high ground clearance and four-wheel drive.

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