The Coolest Car I Ever Owned

From the Old Box of Photos 

I owned a 1965 Pontiac Lemans, and drove it like a kid might do. I was 18 when I bought it.  I had traded that junk of a motorcycle plus some cash for the car. It was an okay car, but nothing special. 

Reading the classified ads one day, I spotted a 1956 Chevrolet Nomad for sale in the town near my home. I asked my dad about it and we agreed to go take a look to see what kind of shape it was in, and more importantly, how much. I never dreamed that I would soon own it. After all, it’s a NOMAD.  The seller said he needed a more reliable car because his wife was pregnant and due soon. My dad asked if he would be interested in a trade for the Pontiac, and he said yes. After he gave the Pontiac a test drive, we settled down to terms. How much?  

I was ready to trade even up. My dad boldly said, how about the Nomad and some cash for the Pontiac. He agreed, and I drove the Nomad home! All it needed was an adjustment to the timing! 

1956 Chevy Nomad
1956 Chevy Nomad

The Nomad needed a little TLC, a good wash and polish. It was all original, which was something of a rarity. The Nomad was Chevrolet’s two-door sports station wagon. Very distinguishable by that slanted pillar behind the door. Lots of chrome strips inside and out. It had a 265 V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor. Power Glide automatic transmission. Even the clock and radio worked. 

I spent a lot of time cleaning up and polishing all the chrome that distinguishes the Nomad from the two and four-door station wagons that Chevrolet was also selling. It was my pride and joy. The coolest car.

In December, 1969, the U.S. Department of Defense conducted the first draft lottery. I sat with my mom, glued to the television watching them pull birthdays from the container. Then it came. Number 51 is November 7. My birthday. In January, I was called up for a physical, notified of being drafted in February, and on a bus to the induction center in Chicago in March, 1970. All the while, the war in Vietnam is raging on.

What to do with the car? What to do with the horse I also owned, which will be a future story from the old box of photos? The uncertainty of my future was foremost on my mind. I decided to sell the car, and it did not take long to sell.

Jumping ahead to my return from Vietnam and the U.S. Army, I went back to the guy who bought my Nomad. “Would you sell it back to me?” The answer was quick. “No!”

So, I bought a 1968 Ford Fairlane, and then a couple of months later, a 1972 Honda CL350 Scrambler motorcycle. At least I had wheels. 

Of all the cars I have owned, and miles driven. That Nomad is still my favorite. When I attend a classic car show, I am always looking for a Nomad to remind me of what I once had. 

See you on the highway.