Abandoned 1955 Chevy Nomad Gets Rescued and Resurrected

1955 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon

This story started for DD Speed Shop around Christmas 2020 with a random message on their weekly live stream — “Are you looking for a Nomad?” came up across the screen. Of course, I’m looking for a Nomad, Dan thought to himself.

This was the perfect car for Dan: Cheap, ratty, missing parts — basically, the worst Nomad left in existence.

The only real problem? It was on the other side of Canada in a small mountain town. This made shipping a real challenge, as most shippers had no interest in delivering a clapped-out car with no running gear. Getting it himself would be about a week-long round trip, and that simply wasn’t in the cards with his day job/YouTube schedule so it stayed on the back burner.

Well, as these things sometimes do, it kept bugging him to the point where he eventually figured out a way to get the car home with a little cash, a little free labor, and trading his old abandoned Dodge Challenger.

1955 Chevrolet Nomad Wagon Project Car on Trailer
The ’55 Nomad arriving at Dan’s storage field.

Buyers remorse? Yeah just a little, he says, but he’s also excited to start on the project!

The Ultimate Sacrifice Must Be Made To Save The 1955 Chevy Nomad

There are some dark days ahead, Dan tells us. A very repairable 1956 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery is about to pay the ultimate price to save another Tri-Five Chevy. After Pricing out all the replacement sheet metal needed for the Nomad, Dan was looking at a pretty steep bill.

1955 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon Project Car

So Dan sourced a good donor car for all the needed sheet metal and chassis. He feels bad about cutting up this very, very repairable car, but, sedan deliveries just aren’t his thing, plus it was for sale for weeks and no one else snatched it up. It’s a shame the ’56 Delivery wasn’t restored but all of its good parts will go on to keep other cars on the road.

“1 Car On The Road Is Better Than 2 Cars In A Field.”

Dan, DD Speed Shop

Dan tells us that in his YouTube comments, everyone was losing their minds over this 1956 sedan delivery. “save it” “cut up the nomad” “cut up the 4 door wagon”. He says that he’s never seen so much passion about a ratty old parts car.

1956 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery Parts Donor Car

Unfortunately for this ’56, the better the car, the better it is as a parts car. It will live on and help build other cars.

Dan chose to keep the entire rear section as complete as possible. The trunk floor, wheel tubs, and inner support all came off in one big chunk. The rest of the cowl was stripped down and less than a half truckload of rusted steel went to scrap, and Dan managed to keep/sell 100% of the usable parts.

With the body completely removed, he focused on stripping the frame. Unfortunately, the chassis wasn’t quite as nice as he was hoping for. Years of mouse nests and mud-filled frame rails resulted in plenty of rust and rot. This added a day of frame repairs but soon it was ready for paint and new parts.

Dan started off by painting the entire frame with KBS Chassis Coating. It’s a self-leveling brush-on product that is specifically designed to be used over rust. After a day of dry time, he started installing a brand new front end.

A set of eBay sourced tubular control arms ended up being cheaper than rebuilding the stock set up and includes new ball joints and bushings, plus it adds more caster for a better handling car.

With the front suspension assembled with new parts, Dan started to install a power disc brake set up, also from eBay.

Time to let the rebuilt frame sit for another night before it goes in cold storage to make room for the Nomad itself in the garage.

What Have I Done?

With the Nomad in the garage, Dan realizes that “It’s bad guys, so very very bad. I don’t think there is 1 good part or panel on this hot rod, but it is a NOMAD!”

He presumably the Nomad was an old race car many years ago then transitioned into a left for dead parts car. The only good part on this car is the roof, that’s it! But it is a Nomad roof, and that is what makes this whole car worth saving…

Front Clip? Rotten and missing the hood…
Trim? No, there’s no trim…
Floors? Rotten from the firewall to the tail panel…
Doors? Missing…
Quarter Panels? 1 missing, 1 rotten…
Interior? Yeah, there’s no interior…

At least the frame was in good shape, oh wait NO IT’S NOT!

A roof and a serial number are all he bought. That realized, he says that he is still “SUPER excited about this car!”

The First Cut Is The Deepest

This nomad has been left for dead for too long, too many owners, and too many moves. Now that it’s in the DD Speed Shop, Dan vows to finally do this car justice. Well justice in a hacky way…

Dan has been collecting rust repair panels for this car since he made a deal on the car many months ago.

Dan went through more than 50 cutting disks cutting up this car. The floors and rockers were the first to go. Ultimately, the body will be swapped onto the rebuilt chassis, so he needed to make sure the body would be structurally sound before the exchange.

Before the entire floor came out he had to replace the rotten rockers to keep the door opening and body aligned. So a little cutting and welding, before you know it the first repair panel was being welded into place.

With that first panel in place, Dan got busy and did a full floor pan replacement, including the trunk floor and wheel tubs, and springs for pair of brand new 1955 Chevy Nomad quarter panels.

When the cutting and welding was done, Dan officially had himself a rust-free 1955 Chevrolet Nomad!

Home Garage Body Swap

After all the metalwork, welding, and grinding it was finally time to body swap the 1955 Chevy Nomad onto its completely rebuilt chassis.

In the summer, Dan did a body swap on his 1957 Chevy Convertible build, and it did NOT go well. This time around he took his time and built a proper fixture to life the body evenly.

The meat and potatoes of the swap was an A-frame gantry-style crane. He built it in place out of 4×4 fence posts and 2×4’s for added stability. With the fixture built, he simply hung a 1-ton chain hoist from the center so he could lift the front of the car. Around back was a little less fancy. He used the engine crane and ran a strap through the window openings and pumped it up.

He recalls that it was a little unnerving having 3 weeks of solid hard work hanging 4 feet in the air from a couple of chains. Overall, it worked out great, he said.

With the body bolted down on her “forever home”, Dan began to finish welding all of the sheet metal on the car. Up until this point, all the replacement panels have simply been tacked into place just in case anything needed to move or be realigned. The car looked straight and sat great on the new chassis, so that meant all his “careful” measuring had paid off.

New Motor And Transmission

With the Nomad actually looking like a car again, Dan was eager to work on something other than rusted metal. A good running motor had popped up, so Dan decided to pony up a little and buy a REALLY nice Small Block for the Chevy.

The new mill is a built 4 bolt main 350. Nothing crazy but extremely well built to be a nice little street cruiser. With a fairly high-quality motor, he decided to buy a rebuilt turbo 350 transmission to bolt on the back. New clutches, a high stall torque converter, and a shift kit. This should make for a rock-solid driveline with enough power to melt some tires.

The Full Build

Now, all that’s left is everything. Watch as Dan brings this neglected and abandoned ’55 Chevy Nomad back to life…