Chevrolet Newmad Nomad

Steve Frisbie, owner of Steve’s Auto Restorations (SAR), a 14,000-square-foot shop in Portland, Oregon, is a restorer first and foremost, but he has proven repeatedly that he is not afraid of taking a torch to a coach-built car. Although Steve is an ardent Art Deco buff, SAR received considerable acclaim after completing several projects that helped establish an extreme restyling trend that defines the New Millennium’s ultra-progressive custom rod look. This full custom Newmad is a prime example.

Thanks to its restrained yet sophisticated lines and Chris Ito’s design talents, the ’55 Chevy Newmad looks as if it could have originally emerged as a concept car from a GM design studio. Built in an era when today’s big name designers were little more than hot rod shop employees, the Newmad is a unique expression, from its carefully redrawn body lines that emphasize the original Bel Air Nomad’s elegance, to its hand-formed trim and bumpers.

Commissioned by Dave Hall of Phoenix, Arizona, the Newmad is a show-stopper – a totally custom creation that required 24,000 man hours to build. The body was channeled three inches over the frame; the roof was sectioned 1.5 inches for a thinner appearance; the roof pillars were chopped three-fourths of an inch and pancaked 1.5 inches. These modifications resulted in a much sleeker version of an acknowledged ‘50s-era classic.

The original Nomad two-door sport wagon was distinguished from other cars of its era by its distinctively slanted “B” and “C” pillars. Those design elements, not-so-subtly altered, have all been retained. Designer Chris Ito discretely redrew the old Nomad, redefining the original car’s boxy shape. By stretching here and tweaking there, he transformed a great design into a brilliant new concept while enhancing the look of the original. SAR’s skilled metal shapers artfully updated the Nomad, so the total transformation, while evident, has been executed so subtly that only the most discerning observers can appreciate how it was done.

To add to the illusion of length, the front wheel openings were moved forward 2.5 inches and the hood was lengthened three inches. The original and somewhat dated wraparound (Panoramic) windshield was scrapped, and in its place a more contemporary straight windshield and its accompanying cowl were adapted from a ’64 Mercury Marauder. Vent windows were eliminated. A reshaped power lift gate was fabricated along with custom headlight and taillight lenses to complete the countless body modifications, only a few of which are described here. The brilliant finish is House of Kolor White Pearl over Majestic Blue with Kandy Cobalt.

Inside, a hand-formed dash and custom console were enhanced with modified Lexus SC400 10-way power seats, finished in custom-dyed two-tone gray leather, topped with an ultra-suede gray headliner and underscored with Multi-tone Sahara fine-point square weave carpeting. A premier Clarion sound system with Sound Stream speakers and a 550-watt Rubicon 5/3 Channel Amplifier round out the entertainment package.

A great custom rod deserves a sensational powerplant and suspension setup and this ride has it, from its Accel fuel-injected 496 cubic inch, 540 brake horsepower Chevrolet V8 with Brodix oval port heads, to its Hughes Performance GM 4L80E four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The custom-built chassis features 2000 Corvette C5 fully independent front and rear IRS with front and rear torsional sway bars, Air Ride Shock Wave suspension, incorporating a Strange center section, along with Baer Racing front and rear disc brakes. Wheels and tires are 20-inch one-off Budnick custom alloys with BFG G-Force T/A tires.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

540bhp, 496 cu. in. fuel-injected Chevrolet V8 engine, GM 4L80E- four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, custom-built chassis with 2000 Corvette C5 fully independent front and rear suspension, Baer Racing four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 118"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Dale Moreau

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