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In the Garage: 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad owned by John Pedretti
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
When the Nomad debuted in 1955, it was a radical departure from the staid family station wagons of the period. Just a year earlier, General Motors had revealed a similar concept car during its “Motorama” shows in several major cities. “The radius rear tire wells and the slanted roof posts give this two-door wagon a ‘chopped’ and custom look from the factory that draws people to it,” Pedretti says.
“They only made a little over 8,530 Nomads in 1955 out of over 1.5 million Chevys produced that year.” Despite a stock appearance on the outside, Pedretti’s ride boasts a supercharged 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine, as well as a modern transmission and rear differential.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
Pedretti says he knew two previous owners for 15 years before he bought the car, which has spent most of its life on Long Island.
“The car was in solid shape, but needed to be restored,” he says. “I sent it out for paint and when it was done, I knew it was a keeper. Then came the domino effect – interior, motor, transmission, rear end, suspension, etc. – all done in my garage. I keep the body and interior true to stock, but with a modern drivetrain, we take this car on long trips.” Most parts are available or are being reproduced, he says, because they are the same as other Bel Air models. However, he notes that original tailgates, liftgates and certain chrome pieces can be expensive and hard to find.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“If you’re looking for a car and you can't do the work yourself, buy one that is already done,” he advises. “It might seem expensive at the time, but believe me, a lot of time and money goes into a mint car. Most of all, drive it and have fun. It's a car, not a Picasso.”
“I've been offered $60,000 for it,” he says. “I'll take $70,000.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I enjoy the car because it's great to go cruising with my dog hanging her head out the rear sliding window,” Pedretti says. “It's also big enough that we've had many wonderful trips with the whole family.”