The Nomad started life as a concept car. Debuting at GM’s 1954 Motorama event, the Chevy Nomad was a “dream car” meant to unite performance with day-to-day utility (via Hemmings). But then the car mysteriously disappeared after the show.
From 1955 to 1957, Chevy delivered on that aim, building a Nomad two-door wagon with room for six and a 245-hp V8, ascending to a 283-hp fuel injection model the following year (per Auto Evolution). And while the two-door model gets most of the love, the ’58-’61 version was no slouch, a wagon built around the sizable skeleton and mighty V8 of the first-generation Impala.
From ’61 on, the Nomad name struggled to find buyers and found itself attached to less and less impressive models. After being attached to the Chevelle, the Vega, and even the Chevy Van, the manufacturer withdrew it from American markets in 1972 (via Classic.com), building the last in South Africa in 1980.
Even before the last Nomad rolled off the line, however, Chevy was testing the waters for a comeback. In 1979, they went wildly off-book, slapping the Nomad name on a funny little people carrier that could have set off the minivan boom a few years early (via Curbside Classic). The concepts in ’91 and ’99 were similar: clever ideas without the design and support necessary to get off the drawing board. Then came 2004.