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Chevrolet Nomad - the taste of apple pie, the flair of capuccino

Chevrolet Nomad - the taste of apple pie, the flair of capuccino

Chevrolet Nomad - the taste of apple pie, the flair of capuccino

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Corvette owners know all about the wave. It's the acknowledgement to fellow Corvette drivers that you're both members of the fraternity, sharing and participating in the dream.

There are other vehicles like that: cars, SUVs and even motorcycles with a charisma that speaks to the young and young at heart - an instantly recognizable character that rolls with you like an extension of your personality. The Chevy Nomad is like that.

The Nomad is a concept car built by GM and introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. It's not a sedan, wagon, SUV or any other categorizable vehicle, but it simultaneously conveys presence and practicality.

'The Nomad is the type of vehicle that creates an instant bond with certain personalities,' said Simon Cox, design director, GM Advanced Design, United Kingdom. 'It's a personal vehicle that carries the expressions and emotions of the driver, causing them to seek out enthusiasts of the same mindset.'

Based on GM's new Kappa architecture, which also serves as the foundation for the Pontiac Solstice production model and Saturn Curve concept, the Nomad represents another line of thought when it comes to leveraging a new sports car platform. Its off-the-hook styling is readily identifiable as a Chevrolet, but with a contemporary flair.

And since it's Kappa-based, the Nomad is rear-wheel drive, boasting independent front and rear suspensions attached to a rigid chassis that uses a pair of full-length hydroformed frame rails as its foundation. To make room for rear-seat riders in its 2+2 configuration, the Nomad rides on a 107-inch wheelbase - 2 inches longer than other Kappa architecture-based concepts.

A turbocharged Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Nomad, which also features a new Hydra-Matic 5L40-E electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with finger-operated tap shifting. Through the use of variable engine valve timing, valve lift and duration can be adjusted throughout the rpm range to improve fuel economy, emissions and performance. The turbocharged Ecotec is good for 250 horses - 87 horses more, for example, than a certain 'miniscule' chap from across the pond.

All about character

Speaking of Great Britain, that's where the internationally flavored Nomad was designed.

GM tapped its global network of designers to pen the Nomad - a group that brought to the design table a diverse cultural background and linked with North American counterparts to produce a series of stunning, contemporary concept vehicles.

Renowned Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina helped assemble the driveable vehicle.

The Nomad team created a forward thinking and forward looking design while evoking the spirit of the 1954 Chevy Nomad concept vehicle, including round headlamps mounted on gently curving fenders, a trademark Corvette grille and a forward-sloping B-pillar.

Like the '04 concept, the '54 Nomad shared a new sports car platform - the Corvette - and challenged the thinking of car-based utility. The new Nomad goes even further, incorporating clever details to accommodate large, bulky items, such as a removable rear roof panel and a unique folding tailgate. A sliding cargo floor extends over the folded tailgate so items placed on the load floor are easily pushed into the cargo area.

Chrome strips on the outside of the tailgate complement styling ribs on the Nomad's rear roof - another nod to the character of the 1954 concept vehicle.

LED technology for the headlamps and taillamps not only adds a modern, high-tech touch to the Nomad, but allows for the lamps' slim profiles. They look pretty cool when illuminated, too.

'There is a simple, yet very expressive design to the Nomad,' said Dale Brewer, lead exterior designer. 'The face of the vehicle, along with the lights, the shape of the grille and the tailgate have Chevrolet heritage, but conveyed in a thoroughly modern way.'

That goes for the interior, too, which has a large, fan-shaped central gauge cluster mounted in the dashboard. The cluster takes on a 3-D look, with an aluminum background and special instrument lighting. It's a luminous appearance that adds visual depth and a sophisticated feel to the interior.

In front of the gauges is a large, classic-looking steering wheel that is covered in leather. Chevrolet 'bowtie' insignias accent a metal band that runs the length of the dashboard - a styling cue on Chevrolet models of the 1950s that contributes to the interior's geometric theme.

The black leather-trimmed interior features Cove Blue performance Nubuck inserts, anodized blue aluminum gauges and energizing blue lighting. A color used increasingly by trendsetting designers for its ability to evoke relaxed emotions and convey sophistication, the blue lighting and accents add a uniquely urban ambiance to the Nomad's passenger environment - like the atmosphere of a hip martini bar.

Besides looking cool the interior also offers clever functionality, including three folding options for the rear seat: the center armrest folds to store long items, such as skis, while each rear seatback folds to dramatically increase the Nomad's overall cargo space.

The cool theme continues the Ice Blue Metallic exterior color, complemented with an ultra-fine tinted silver-blue accent. In addition to being one of fashion's most popular palette choices, the blue hue bolsters the Nomad's sophisticated, urban character.

'Wherever you look or whatever you touch in the Nomad, it creates a satisfying emotional reaction,' said Jose Gonzalez, lead interior designer. 'There are cars that offer more room and amenities, but the Nomad's environment has soul. It's a car you want to get in and drive.'

A powerful, yet unobtrusive Panasonic sound system in Nomad has speakers in the dashboard and doors, as well as subwoofers in the rear of the armrests. Quite simply, it bumps - a prerequisite of younger buyers for any new vehicle.

Right for the time

'The idea for a compact vehicle like this is more relevant now than ever,' said Gonzalez. 'As much as people crave a sporty, great looking vehicle, modern lifestyle interests demand functionality. The Nomad has both - an unmistakable character, like the SSR, and the utility of the upcoming HHR. Whether or not they can convey it in words, it's what everybody is looking for in a new vehicle.'

It might just be the perfect car for a new generation's wave.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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