1954 Corvette Nomad – Recreating a Crushed Classic
We just about stopped in our tracks when we saw this 1954 Corvette Nomad wagon last summer at Hot August Nights. This is one of very, very few Corvette Nomad recreations; there is perhaps only one other in existence today. The original prototype was built by Chevrolet for the 1954 GM Motorama and was crushed after the show, a disappointing fate that many concept cars from that era met.
The car was pieced together from the ground up, starting with a 1955 Nomad frame. From the firewall forward, the frame was hand-built while the rear of the chassis was modified to match late model Corvette dimensions. To make the ’54 Corvette Nomad, bodies from a ’55 Nomad and a ’54 Corvette were seamlessly blended then widened three inches.
Best of all, Ray’s wagon rests on suspension from a 1995 C4 Corvette, as well as rack and pinion steering from the same car. This means disc brakes all around and independent rear suspension which is seriously an impressive feat for a wagon like this. Ray says with the resto-modded suspension the car feels and drives great, and we certainly believe him.
Powered by a Ram Jet 350 Chevy with the help of an EFI setup the engine is a good match for the extra weight. It’s not insanely powerful, but plenty to haul the wagon around and cruise. Power is fed through a 700R4 overdrive auto trans and then out back to the glorious IRS setup. While it was sitting pretty at the show, we really would have loved to take it for a spin.
The car also features automatic door locks, tailgate, windows, and an alarm system — a few things that weren’t in widespread use until later in the fifties, when they were considered luxury items. All of these power options can be controlled via a remote control, too.
With period-correct details like the mesh headlight covers and the chrome door trim (which at first we thought were upside-down Corvette trim pieces, but are actually one-off recreations) coupled with the immaculate interior, and the modern suspension, we really wish Chevrolet would produce this exact car.
While the CTS-V wagon comes close, it’s just not quite the same. First of all, it’s just not as practical; Ray’s Corvette Nomad is far roomier in the seating and storage areas. And of course, the styling of these classics is something we’ll never get back. At least Ray and Santana, who brought the car all the way out from the coast, get to enjoy it on the open roads whenever they want.
1954 Corvette Nomad Photo Extra!