Bob Birchmeier's 1955 Chevy Nomad
(from Volume 19, Issue 230)

As with many auto enthusiasts, to understand where they are today you first have to realize where it is they came from and what they have gone through. Being born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan, as a young teen Bob Birchmeier became interested in Chevy’s because of his two older brothers and father. His oldest brother had bought a new ‘55 Chevy Bel Air 2-Door Hardtop. Though Bob was not of driving age, he was recruited to help his brothers work on their cars. From motors to transmissions, rear ends and so on, it just depended on what they tore up the night before racing on good old Woodward Avenue. After a few years of this Bob was old enough to drive, so he had his pick of the litter. Bob’s first car was a used ‘55 Chevy Bel Air 2-Door Hardtop (go figure) that needed some work, and the customizing began. After much custom work and engine mods, Bob was a heavy cruiser on Woodward Avenue in the late evenings for years.

Next on the agenda was a new ‘63 Corvette fuel injected convertible with metallic brakes, 4-speed and no radio. It was built in September of ‘62, delivered in October, with VIN number 618 (which he still owns today). The Vette also received custom work starting in ‘64, which carried on for years with many body and interior modifications until 1969, when Bob started a fiberglass manufacturing business named Diversified Glass Products. He also got married to his wife, Sonja, to whom he is still happily married. Now being self employed and married his cars took a back seat, though he was still very heavy into custom work through his business. They built all of the bodies for the IROC race cars from the start of the series to the end. From that recognition they got the job to do the Indy car bodies for Penske and Patrick Racing for years. Then it was on to GM Motorsports, for which they built all the wide body parts for all Corvette, Camaro, Trans Am, Monza, Buick, Pontiac, Chevy, Oldsmobile and Fiero teams. They also did GTP cars for Corvette and Jaguar Group 44, Can Am bodies for Hobart Racing, and many pace cars for PPG. Plus there were show cars for GM, and some movie cars including the Knight Rider, Batmobile, Bat boat and the Duck. There were many one-off show cars for Carl Casper, and one that won the Detroit Ridler Award.

Now fast forward to the 90’s, and Bob decided to take the ‘63 Corvette out of mothballs and restore it back to all original. With that project out of the way he got the urge for warm weather, and moved to Florida in 2000. Then the bug for another ‘55 Chevy bit him, and the hunt was on. This time around he wanted something different from the Hardtops of his past, so he decided on a Nomad. After many years of searching he located one he liked in Seattle. It was originally built in California, was there for 6 years, then sold into Nevada, where it stayed for 40 years. Now it was going to get the resto mod treatment.

Looking underneath, in the front you’ll find Jim Meyer Racing tubular A-Arms, 2-inch dropped spindles, coilover shocks, and rack and pinion power steering. Out back are a set of ladder bars and coilovers, there are power disc brakes all around, and all of the suspension parts as well as the frame have been powder coated.

Under the hood you’ll find a 502 cubic inch big block with an 850cfm Demon carb, cast Sanderson headers, Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine belt system, and Be Cool radiator. Power goes through a 700R4 overdrive automatic back to an Auburn 9-inch Ford rear end with positraction.

The car has the original glass, trim, frame and body, with no dents or rust after all these years. The door windows were converted to one piece glass, eliminating the wing windows for a sleeker look. After laying on the super straight black paint, all of the exterior trim and stainless were refurbished and rechromed, then a set of Foose rims (18-inch fronts, 20-inch rears) were wrapped with Michelin tires and bolted on.

Inside you’ll find custom beige and black upholstery, utilizing a 6-way power seat. Other changes include a tilt column, digital gauges, billet steering wheel, and various billet trim pieces. A center console houses the radio, power window switches, and extra air conditioning vents. However, all of the interior chrome is original, since no work was needed even after all these years.

We got to really check out Bob’s Nomad closely at our Beach Blast 19 car show, which we here at Mike Kelly’s Cruise News hosted in Cocoa Beach on May 17-19, 2013. The more we looked at the car, the more we appreciated how nice every aspect of it is. The car certainly got a lot of attention from fellow participants and spectators alike, so we decided to shoot it as a feature car. We are happy to share it with all of our readers, who will no doubt admire it just as much. CN