DACC Feature Car
July 2005
1956 Nomad
George Johnson

The Nomad I Always Wanted!

I have wanted a Nomad ever since I was a junior in high school in Lompoc, California back in 1966. It was always in the back of my mind as I went through college and started my career working for Wyatt's Cafeterias.  One day in mid 1989, a young lady named Kathy walked into the Wyatt's West Little Rock, Arkansas where I happened to be working and asked me if I knew who owned a four door '55 Chevy that was parked in the parking lot. I didn't know who owned that particular car, but she mentioned that her husband owned a body shop and built about 4 cars a year almost exclusively 55-57 Chevrolets. I asked her if he had a lead on a '56 Nomad to which she replied he had a shell somewhere on his lot that she thought was a Nomad but she wasn't sure what year it was. On my next day off I was on the phone to Bill Nebling, owner or Billy Jack's Auto Body in Little Rock. We met at his shop and he showed me the Nomad.  It had no front end, no engine, no glass except the curved glass at the back of the car, no interior, and it was full of old parts that he had bought at a swap meet, and it had no wheels or tires. He then showed me some of the cars he had built and I knew in an instant that at long last, the Nomad was about to happen. He didn't do a frame-off, but he did replace all the sheet metal on the body that needed replacing.  We put in a new floor, new wiring harness, front seat out of a late model Cadillac, a rebuilt 350 with an automatic transmission and added an electric wiper motor.  He sanded down through two coats of paint, and the original colors were turquoise and white (the color I wanted) but along the way someone had painted it maroon and kept the white. It took about 6 month from start to finish to get the car ready.  Some parts took a long time to find but that is to be expected when restoring a '56 Nomad!  I've always like the 56's, for me the lines were smoother and the paint dividers on the side that extend almost all the way to the front really made the two-tone paint stand out. The first 6 to 8 months I had it, I was on the road so much in my job that I hardly drove it. In 1993, Wyatt's started to go under so I bought a Donut shop and a lunchroom in Bentonville, Arkansas.  The Nomad made the transition just fine, as the mountain air just seemed to make it run better. After 5 years of making donuts I moved to Arlington to help take care of my mother. The only thing I've done to the car since I have been in Texas is to put on a larger radiator and an auxiliary fan. There are more people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area than all of Arkansas so the traffic and warmer climate gave it a test.  The car tended to run hot but it never boiled. The gauge would be all the way over to the right, which made me very uncomfortable driving. Today the car is great driver. Along the way, Bill's Automotive in Bentoville, Arkansas and Gary D's in Arlington have been a great help in keeping the car running. I will probably get the car painted next and then redo the interior with either leather or naugahide tuck-n-roll. Ronnie Potts of North Little Rock did the current interior and did a great job especially with the headliner. I will keep it intact no matter how I change the rest of the interior. I really look forward to making more road trips like the Spring Cruise in May to Dublin. I should have foreseen the problem with the Nomad idling in traffic and getting hot. A real Nomad likes to wander and roam, not idle in traffic!



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