Dan Caggiani's 1955 Chevy Nomad
(from Volume 23, Issue 274)

story by owner Dan Caggiani, photos by Michael B. Kelly


I have loved classic cars since I was a little boy. Attending local car shows, flipping through car magazines and combing the internet fueled my passion. As the years passed, I got married, and my wife allowed me to indulge in the hobby with various classic sports cars even though we were young and just starting out. After our two kids arrived though, my priorities shifted and owning a classic car would just have to wait a few years. A few years turned to about a dozen or so years before we were in a position to rekindle my passion - but something had changed. I wanted to share my passion with my family and a classic sports car with only room for two did not fit the bill. Our search to own an iconic classic that was somewhat unique and could accommodate a family of four was the genesis of our 1955 Nomad “Bruiser” project.

The Nomad was in rough shape when we found it tucked away in a garage in a small town in rural Kentucky. While it had a shredded rear quarter and hideously modified firewall, the body appeared to be a solid foundation for the vision to RestoMod the wagon. I had it transported to Hot Rod Dynamics in Lenoir, North Carolina where Joe Lutz and his team shared their passion for the project. Hot Rod Dynamics is no stranger to 55-57 Bel Air builds. After following several of their builds on the TriFive Forum and meeting with Joe at his facility to see the finished cars in person gave me the confidence that we had found the right shop for this project. His work ethic and craftsmanship was at a level I had not been exposed to in my past. Joe’s philosophy of respecting the original design of the body but incorporating modern technology wherever possible was in line with my overall theme for the Nomad. A contract and friendship was forged and over the course of two years, we collaborated on pretty much every detail to bring life to Project “Bruiser”.

This ’55 Chevy is powered by a 6.2-liter L99 (LS3 derivative) fuel injected engine with a Concept One pulley system, backed by a 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission. The body is mounted on the first production Tri-Five Art Morrison chassis to feature an independent rear suspension. The modern touches on this car entail a keyless entry system, push button start, a hidden gas filler behind an automated fold-out taillight, Dakota Digital VHX gauges, cruise control, power everything, and Vintage Air climate control.

The interior was another design focus for the build that took cues from modern Cadillacs and Corvettes. The team at Avant Garde Design out of Palm Bay, Florida took on the task of custom building the Nomad’s interior cabin including the suede headliner, custom seats and door panels, along with an amazing center console that houses a touch screen Pioneer stereo with GPS, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay built into the head unit. To be family friendly, the front and rear passengers have cup holders and for safety, seat belts all around.

Now that our family classic cruiser is complete, we have been enjoying our time together while attending several shows, and have met so many great people. The reception and positive reaction to the Nomad has been simply incredible and humbling to us. My wife and 17-year old son have both had a little time behind the wheel, and my 15 year old has been in charge of the music selection as she has an amazing way of choosing just the right song for us to cruise to every time we go out. We plan on cruising to as many events as we get the chance to – including the TriFive Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky this coming August. CN