My Car Quest

February 23, 2024

Design History: 2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

by Wallace Wyss –

Oh I remember the original Nomad–the ’55,’56 and ’57–but somehow this attempt to bring it back eluded me. Actually the ’54 Nomad concept had a Corvette front end, but the production car was regular Chevy, using only the show car’s roof.

In a way a two door station wagon seems useless, like they are family cars but with only two doors, there’s a lot of flipping the front seats forward necessary. On the other hand it gives a wagon a more sporty jaunty image, like, yeah, your family made a wagon necessary but the two door makes it more rakish.

2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

The newer Nomad was a concept car built by GM and introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. One reviewer said “it simultaneously conveys presence and practicality.”

Simon Cox, design director of GM Advanced Design, United Kingdom at the time was in charge of it saying, “It’s a personal vehicle that carries the expressions and emotions of the driver, causing them to seek out enthusiasts of the same mindset.”

2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

It was based on GM’s new Kappa architecture, which underlay the Pontiac Solstice production model and Saturn Curve concept, so basically it could been a Saturn Sky wagon if they had wanted to. They resurrected the styling of the original Nomad wagon prototype which mysteriously disappeared, but added some contemporary details like the taillights to the new concept.

2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

The show car was rear-wheel drive, boasting independent front and rear suspension and had a rigid chassis. To make room for rear-seat riders in its 2+2 configuration, the Nomad had to be stretched 2 inches longer than the other Kappa-based concepts.

A turbocharged Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine was under the bonnet, mated to a new Hydra-Matic 5L40-E electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with finger-operated tap shifting. The turbocharged Ecotec was rated at 250 horses.

2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

This prototype was a bit unusual, designed in Great Britain and assembled by renowned Italian coach builder Pininfarina. Simon Cox is a British car designer known for the Isuzu Vehicross, Cadillac Cien, Cadillac Converj, and the Opel Speedster.

Cox worked subsequently established another UK based Advanced Design studio for General Motors and operated as the Design Director. Cox later designed for McLaren and then joined Infiniti, a Japanese luxury vehicle division, creating a new Advanced Design studio in Paddington, London, UK. He brought all that experience to a job as Assistant Professor in Transport Design at Coventry University, UK.

Back to the Nomad. It had one feature they should have brought to the table–a removable rear roof panel and a unique folding tailgate. Chrome strips on the outside of the tailgate were a homage to the 1954 concept vehicle.

The interior has a large, fan-shaped central gauge cluster that had sort of a 3-D look, with an aluminum background and special instrument lighting.

2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept

As we know the Saturn Sky went down with the ship when Saturn was torpedoed, as well as its sister car the Pontiac Solstice when Pontiac was also sunk. But hey the idea of using a classic concept for a smaller car is too good to discard entirely…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is currently readying an anthology of 30 car fantasy stories.


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Design History: 2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept
Article Name
Design History: 2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept
The 2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept was a bit unusual, designed in Great Britain and assembled by renowned Italian coach builder Pininfarina.


  1. Thought at the time the car was cute, and had some mild utilitarian value as a sport wagon, certainly the Kapa platform on which it was based was well thought out and certainly quite competent, do I agree with all the styling cues, no but it was a step in a positive direction too bad it was never further developed. Also too bad that platform which saw many concepts never gained much traction either… of course that is just my opinion…

  2. Robert Feldman says

    What company was it that was offering an LS engine conversion for the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky?
    That would make a light and lively package that would have been awesome to drive with great retro styling!

    • One of the things that may have killed that chassis was that GM apparently did not want a V-8 placed in that chassis for production as they did not want the cars competing with the Corvette…But the chassis is apparently quite up to having the LS motor installed in it… I am sure it should be easily possible to find out who was offering the conversion.

  3. Robert Feldman says

    Found it! It was Mallet that did the work. Check out one that was sold on BAT. Sorry I missed it!
    One-Owner 6k-Mile 2006 Pontiac Solstice Mallett V8 Conversion – 1010k

    You couldn’t build one today for this kind of money.

  4. Interesting but not sure what the market would be? I saw this in the flesh at the GM Heritage Center. Talking about GM, Buick had an awesome all wheel drive wagon in the Regal Tour X that only lasted one year and gone. This is basically a German Opel. Perfect size, peppy turbo charged four cylinder with all wheel drive and gorgeous. Of course GM never marketed it and Americans are too hung up on these stupid SUVs. Oh well.

  5. Wes Stewart says

    Having once owned a 1956 Corvette and having lusted for my brother’s ’57 Nomad, I like it. I think the grill opening should have been moved down an inch or two, however.

  6. wallace wyss says

    I saw that Buick Wagon at the LA International Auto Show and dragged my photographer over to a Jaguar wagon to show how the Buick was almost the same from some views but never saw one on the street. GM has let many a flower die on the vine or something like that…

  7. Byron H LaMotte says

    Yes, and a bargain price in the thirties!

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