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1954 Nomad and Corvair showcars


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A few weeks ago, a friend and I went on a week long tour of my some of my favorite car museums. We first went to the Gilmore in Hickory Corner, Michigan. Then the Auburn Cord Duesenberg and Nation Car and Truck museums in Auburn, Indiana. Then it was up to South Bend, Indiana for the Studebaker. (Plus we visited Round 2. We were disappointed to see they have no store or any other accommodations for visitors. They let us in the front door, and told us they could go back into the warehouse a get what ever was needed. But that was about it.) We finished our run with a visit to the Volo car museum, north of Chicago. It’s no Gilmore or Auburn Cord Duesenburg. But, a fun place none the less. 

It was our first stop at the Gilmore that I got a surprise. They had a display of Corvettes in their first gallery. And amongst those Corvettes, they had a Motorama ‘54 Corvette Nomad and Corvair. With all the rumors, especially surrounding the Nomad, I immediately questions whether I was see the real Waldorf Nomad, or a clone? We found a museum docent, and thought both the Nomad and Corvair were the real thing. But, he went to check to make sure. After checking, he came back and assured me they were the genuine cars. And not clones. 

Wow! Again, after all of rumors surrounding the Nomad especially, I never thought I’d ever see the real thing. I’m very glad to see this car especially, out of hiding and on display. 

And the Corvair? Not as exciting to see as the Nomad. Even though I like it better than the Nomad. It’s just seemed like the odds were always more favorable in seeing that one. Or at least one of it’s clones. Still it was cool to see both! 

 

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I LOVE those cars!

(For what it's worth.)

I've always LOVED both those cars. And, as I recall from back-inna-day, there were two others in the Motorama show series, the ordinary roadster with soft top and a roadster with a removable hard top that became the prototype for the '55+ Vette hardtop. But, I could be wrong - it happened once before.

 

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3 hours ago, unclescott58 said:

A few weeks ago, a friend and I went on a week long tour of my some of my favorite car museums. We first went to the Gilmore in Hickory Corner, Michigan. Then the Auburn Cord Duesenberg and Nation Car and Truck museums in Auburn, Indiana. Then it was up to South Bend, Indiana for the Studebaker. (Plus we visited Round 2. We were disappointed to see they have no store or any other accommodations for visitors. They let us in the front door, and told us they could go back into the warehouse a get what ever was needed. But that was about it.) We finished our run with a visit to the Volo car museum, north of Chicago. It’s no Gilmore or Auburn Cord Duesenburg. But, a fun place none the less. 

It was our first stop at the Gilmore that I got a surprise. They had a display of Corvettes in their first gallery. And amongst those Corvettes, they had a Motorama ‘54 Corvette Nomad and Corvair. With all the rumors, especially surrounding the Nomad, I immediately questions whether I was see the real Waldorf Nomad, or a clone? We found a museum docent, and thought both the Nomad and Corvair were the real thing. But, he went to check to make sure. After checking, he came back and assured me they were the genuine cars. And not clones. 

Wow! Again, after all of rumors surrounding the Nomad especially, I never thought I’d ever see the real thing. I’m very glad to see this car especially, out of hiding and on display. 

And the Corvair? Not as exciting to see as the Nomad. Even though I like it better than the Nomad. It’s just seemed like the odds were always more favorable in seeing that one. Or at least one of it’s clones. Still it was cool to see both! 

 

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1341856B-5EEC-4696-B26F-FA6448EC22B8.jpeg

AB19DE89-03C1-49FE-8985-8F1D6BBD825C.jpeg

I was up there in May, specifically went to see these two cars.  It was definitely worth the 4 1/2 hour drive each way to see them.

Edited by jas1957
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3 hours ago, Danno said:

I LOVE those cars!

(For what it's worth.)

I've always LOVED both those cars. And, as I recall from back-inna-day, there were two others in the Motorama show series, the ordinary roadster with soft top and a roadster with a removable hard top that became the prototype for the '55+ Vette hardtop. But, I could be wrong - it happened once before.

 

Your right about a third  show car with a hardtop. Only, the hardtop did not become available until the 1956 model year, on Corvette. The “roadster” was just that, an ordinary roadster, photographed with the other three. 

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1 hour ago, jas1957 said:

I was up there in May, specifically went to see these two cars.  It was definitely worth the 4 1/2 hour drive each way to see them.

A 10 hour drive for us. Your lucky to be that close. 4 1/2, 10, or even more, seeing the Gilmore in general, and the Nomad and Corvair specifically, are well worth the trip. 

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1 hour ago, keyser said:

I’ve got both Corvair and Nomad from R&D. 53/55 amt donors. Nicely done. Cleanups done ready for paint. Waiting. 

Who is R&D exactly? (Not all of us know these abbreviations.)  

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R&D Unique was an aftermarket manufacturer of 1/25-24 scale parts and later resin bodies. His original products were white metal (pewter?) items such as suspension components, a '32 frame and such. The original owner was based in the Seattle area and was a member of the club KK and I belonged to when we lived in the Pac NW. His Corvette Waldorf Nomad is available on eBay:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/174629208178  Not for the light of wallet! He also went by Mini Exotics and Scale Equipment Ltd. Apparently the company has changed hands a few times? Website is still up: http://seltd.net/ I don't know if it's in operation.

I still have a few pieces around, here's some of them. The '32 frame has been partially assembled. 

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....and I have this '30 pickup I have never attempted to assemble.

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I found the white metal parts needing a lot of clean up and not easy to work with, very fragile and easily bent and broken (that was about 30 years ago and my skill level was not that great back then). His resin is pretty rough (compared to Replicas and Miniatures, anyway), I guess comparable to Jimmy Flintstone "quality" If one would use that term...

-RRR

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8 hours ago, CabDriver said:

How did you like the Studebaker museum @unclescott58?  That’s right by me (I go to South Bend semi-regularly for the short track racing) but I haven’t actually checked it out yet.

Go check it out. I love the Studebaker Museum. A few surprises awaited me there, since the last time I visited. This was my first visit since they moved to their new location. I found the basement to be the best. Besides the Brook Stevens three Sceptre type (actually, if I remember correctly only the 2-door hardtop carried the Sceptre name) mid-60’s proposed prototypes down there, there were also the two Avanti styling based sedan and coupe prototypes too. They looked rough. And are in need of restoration. For many years they just sat gathering dust in a corn of the old Studebaker plant. At least now they are more properly stored at museum. 

The museum is well worth the price of admission. I believe cost us less than $10.00 a piece to enter. Between the actual museum and the accompanying gift shop, I got my monies worth. Though getting out of the gift shop cost me a few bucks. But even then. I felt it was well worth it. 

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On 9/4/2021 at 8:36 AM, Rocking Rodney Rat said:

R&D Unique was an aftermarket manufacturer of 1/25-24 scale parts and later resin bodies. His original products were white metal (pewter?) items such as suspension components, a '32 frame and such. The original owner was based in the Seattle area and was a member of the club KK and I belonged to when we lived in the Pac NW. His Corvette Waldorf Nomad is available on eBay:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/174629208178  Not for the light of wallet! He also went by Mini Exotics and Scale Equipment Ltd. Apparently the company has changed hands a few times? Website is still up: http://seltd.net/ I don't know if it's in operation.

I still have a few pieces around, here's some of them. The '32 frame has been partially assembled. 

1097312866_RD2.thumb.jpg.5fa240dec80d32e5641963e24011b3ae.jpg

 

....and I have this '30 pickup I have never attempted to assemble.

1780067862_RD1.thumb.jpg.045874ebe1e9d7a34c2e8d4405d00369.jpg

 

I found the white metal parts needing a lot of clean up and not easy to work with, very fragile and easily bent and broken (that was about 30 years ago and my skill level was not that great back then). His resin is pretty rough (compared to Replicas and Miniatures, anyway), I guess comparable to Jimmy Flintstone "quality" If one would use that term...

-RRR

8A46A9E3-64A8-4CEB-B441-9DBD40BBCE61.thumb.jpeg.919b9cbc27ca1ac1ec1ce03d9538717c.jpeg
 

The sign was still up two summers ago when I was working in Seattle. I was out there a week a month that summer and Dave and I planned on getting together, but never connected. I did see him that fall at the last NNL Nationals in Ohio. 

SE Limited wasn’t part of his company. This is owned by Ric Golding in Florida. He used to come to NNL East as a vendor.

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I'd like to see what documentation the museum has that says both of these cars are original. It's pretty well known in C1 Corvette circles that both of these cars were destroyed after the Motorama days. 

There have been several replicas of each car built over the years. This replica Corvair was for sale a couple years ago for $250K.

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30 minutes ago, RSchnell said:

I'd like to see what documentation the museum has that says both of these cars are original. It's pretty well known in C1 Corvette circles that both of these cars were destroyed after the Motorama days. 

There have been several replicas of each car built over the years. This replica Corvair was for sale a couple years ago for $250K.

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The question then is, what would a museum with reputation of the Gilmore have in lying about the history of the cars on display there? Many GM show cars that were supposed to be destroyed back in the day, were not. Several were sent to the Warhoops wrecking yard outside of Detroit, where they were cut up, but not completely destroyed. Several of the GM show cars in Brotz collection were pieced back together from cars found at Warhoops years later. 

Now I don’t know the history of what happen to the possible two original Corvair show cars when GM was done with them. But, the rumored story of the Nomad is that a GM exec drove it home and hid it in his garage when the word came down to destroy it. Then rumors claim that a collector in California got his hands on it, and stored in a warehouse in Long Beach for years. Unwilling to let anybody see it. Again, these are stories and rumors. Yet there are so many supposably lost and destroyed show cars that keep showing up years later. And I can not see any reason why a docent at the Gilmore would have been willing lied to me about the history of the cars on display there. Are these two I saw, original cars or not? I can only go by what the museum docent told me. 

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7 minutes ago, Zippi said:

Anyone know just how many of the originals cars were built of the Nomad and the Carvair?

From what I’ve read over the years, for sure one of each. But, there are signs there may have been two Corvairs. From time to time car companies would change the color of a show car, repainting them. But, the reason for thinking there may have been at least two Corvairs, is there where times were the Corvair would be shown in one color at one show, then very quickly seen at another show in a different color. Then quickly show up at another show, back to the first color. This quick color change is one the reasons its thought there where at least two Corvairs. 

There are other cases of GM building two identical show cars. The mid-50’s two-seat Pontiac Bonneville is a well know example of that. Both Bonnevilles have survived. And both are painted in different colors. I know for sure I’ve seen one at the Pontiac Nationals about 15 years ago, or better now. And I believe I saw the other one at museum one time. But, I wouldn’t swear to that. 

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I went hunting for vintage only color photos of both the ‘54 Corvair and Bonneville Special. In the case of the Corvair, there are lots of vintage photos of it in that very light green, almost white color. I could also find a few vintage pictures of it in red. And note, if you look closely at the way the bucket seats are upholstered, the car in the photo is not the replica commonly seen on the show circuit today. 

Find vintage photo of the Bonneville Special is even harder. I found a couple of the car on the show circuit painted in red. And can find lots of modern photos the car in both green and red. And I found one photo of the Bonneville Special from Bortz Collection being restored, and in white. 

 

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