"Growing up in Los Angeles in the Fifties, I was very much aware of the hot cars. Right from day one the Tri-Five Chevys were the most popular, but only the wealthy kids had the pleasure of driving one. The rest of us said `someday'." -Allen Blackmore
Someday was a long time coming for Allen, but even longer from the perspective of this '56 Chevy.
The previous owner, a man named Jack, had grown up next door to the Nomad's original owner. As a teenager, Jack would eagerly wash and polish the wagon in exchange for a few bucks and the chance to get his hands on the car. He was 20 years old when the original owner passed away, and he asked his neighbor's widow if he could buy the Nomad. The car was not for sale, she informed him.
As the years passed Jack got married and moved on, but would frequently return to the old neighborhood to visit his parents. During one visit, his mother casually mentioned that the lady next door had asked if he was still interested in buying her late husband's car, which had been sitting in her garage for 15 years. Jack hurried over and bought the Nomad that day.
Jack had teenage kids of his own by now, so building a project car was far down on his list of priorities. Before he knew it, another 25 years had passed and now he was the old timer with a forgotten '56 Chevy in his garage. No longer interested in taking on a restoration project, Jack reluctantly decided to sell the Nomad.
That's the story Allen heard when he answered Jack's ad. When he asked if the car had ever been in an accident, Jack related another story about a rogue shopping cart that had scratched it in a supermarket parking lot in 1959, and how the original owner was almost in tears over the incident. Convinced it was the car he'd been looking for, Allen bought it over the phone.
Now the next chapter in the Nomad's story would be determined by Allen. Would his garage be the new home to a revived survivor or the third in a series of storage stalls for a neglected Chevy? Allen decided on the former approach and got Randy Clark at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California involved with the buildup. The work involved a complete disassembly of the old stocker and a rebuild into what you could call a contemporary classic.
Allen figured that Harley Earl had done a pretty good job designing the '56 Nomad, so why should he try and improve it? On the other hand, the 50-year-old Chevy rode like a 50-year-old Chevy, so why not build it to ride and drive like a 2005 Corvette?
Making Tri-Fives ride like late-model Corvettes is all in a day's work at Art Morrison Chassisworks, where a complete chassis was created for the Nomad. All that chassis would be overkill without enough engine to take advantage of it, so Allen opted for a ZZ4 crate small-block.
Add a traditionally-inspired custom interior and rolling stock, and some phenomenal two-tone paint, and you've got a mild custom Tri-Five beyond the wildest dreams of a guy who grew up dreaming about driving one someday.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Rancho Santa Fe, California
1956 Chevy Nomad
Owner contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Corvette-like ride was provided by the steel tube GT Sport chassis from Art Morrison Enterprises, designed specifically for Tri-Five applications. Components include Mustang II front spindles dropped two inches, Aldan front and rear coilover shocks, 12-inch Wilwood disc brakes, and triangulated four-link in the rear.
The factory 265 was replaced with a Chevy crate ZZ4, fed by a single Edelbock 4-barrel carb on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold, covered by an air cleaner designed and hand-fabricated specially for the car by HR&CS. The valve covers are from Mooneyes and the Mattson's crossflow radiator features an integral AC condensor. The Positraction rearend runs 3.70:1 gears.
Wheels & Tires
The right choice of rims were these up-to-date 17-inch five-spokes from Budnik's Teardrop S series, The low-profile tires are P245/45R17 and P275/40R17 BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDW radials.
Body & Paint
Allen wanted to maintain the factory proportions and--except for the shopping cart incident--the Nomad had never suffered any damage, so no radical body reconfiguring was required. Even so, after 50 years, there was rust damage to be repaired during the course of the body-off rebuild, especially in the rear where the tailgate had leaked. HR&CS remedied the problem with new floors from C.A.R.S. Inc. The windows were replaced with tinted glass and, once every ripple was smoothed, the wagon was finished in the original colors: Sierra Gold and Adobe Beige.
HR&CS filled the interior with lots of new spins on old styling. The original '56 seat end caps were adapted to the new Glide Engineering front seat. The backs of the split bench seat were lowered and covered to look like the original '56 upholstery pattern, but in leather instead of cloth, and with a custom center armrest. Dan Crook's restored steering wheel sits on top a Flaming River tilt column with shifter. The dash was extended and a glove box door added which flips open to reveal the oil, water temp, and voltage gauges from Dakota Digital as well as the stereo controls for the Alpine 6-disc CD changer and satellite radio. Wiring was done using a Painless Performance kit. Cool air is pumped through a Vintage Air Gen II Front Runner system.