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My Wheels - 1955 Chevy Nomad

Monday, 22 August 2016 20:59
Mark Maier and his nifty '55 Nomad Mark Maier and his nifty '55 Nomad

August 23, 2016 - Mark Maier was looking for a 1954 Chevy (from the year of his birth), but then he heard about another Chevrolet that touched a note from his past.

In January of 1955 his father purchased a brand new Nomad from the Appleway Chevrolet dealership in Spokane Valley, Washington. The two-toned beauty in Matador Red and India White remained the family car for 10 years. Mark says he father bought it because he thought it was “the coolest car he’d ever seen (at least of those that were within his budget).”

Indeed, with the introduction of the Nomad for the 1955 model year the Chevrolet division of General Motors set a new standard. The two-door Nomad still had the functionality of a station wagon, but there was something exciting about its looks. The year was a momentous one for Chevrolet. Its cars had all looked much the same from ’52 through ’54, but for 1955 the whole product line was redesigned. The new Chevrolets seemed sleeker and so much more modern. Also, the brand introduced its first V-8 engine that year.

A friend knew of Mark’s interest in cars and tipped him that he had seen a good looking car in a barn on the west side. Yes, a barn. Barn finds are legendary among old car buffs, but often are really more legend than reality. This one was genuine and the car was a gem. The 1955 Nomad had a different color scheme from his Dad’s car--the same India White was there, but in place of the Matador Red was Dusk Rose, an unusual color not available until the middle of the year. “It took four separate trips to convince the owner that I needed the car more than he did,” Maier recalls.

55 Chevy Nomad rear PicmonkeyNobody else had the distinctive chrome ribs on tailgate

The Nomad hadn’t been licensed for more than decade and animals had pretty much destroyed the interior, but Mark was able put in fresh gas and a fresh battery and drive it home to the Spokane Valley. He gutted the entire interior and replaced it with carpets and upholstery true to the mid-‘50s era. New tires were purchased and the mechanical aspects got maintenance, but otherwise the car is as stock as when it came off the showroom floor. It has the original 265-cubic inch V-8 engine and three-speed manual transmission operated from a shifter on the steering column. Mark says that with the optional overdrive his Nomad averages about 19 to 20 mpg. 

Mark Maier is now retired after working 37 years as an electrician. His everyday transportation is a 1990 Chevrolet pickup, but he has another prized vehicle in his garage, a 1972 Opel GT Coupe that he bought just three months after his high school graduation. He worked on a farm all summer long to get the money to pay for it.  “It’s been in my garage for 44 years,” he tells My Wheels. “It’s all original and it runs like a dream.”

We met Mark at the end of June when he was exhibiting his Nomad at Cool Desert Nights in Richland. He enjoys showing his pride and joy, but he also enjoys driving it, saying, “I love chrome and bug guts on the windshield.” The Nomad has remarkably low mileage as the odometer now shows just less than 66,000 miles. “When snow’s on the ground it gets covered up stays that way ‘til spring, but I drive it as often as I can during the summer,” he explains. “I enjoy the expression on people’s faces when they pass me—I get a thumbs up, a smile and maybe a laugh. It’s a wonderful thing to see people smile.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 August 2016 12:40

 

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