1958 Chevrolet custom.......phantom car.
Designed and Built by Joe Cherry
Of course, the Chevy El Camino made it's debut in 1959 and was again built in 1960. Then reappeared from 1964 through 1987 and this design was very popular with the businessman as well as the hot rodder.
This custom was built as a 1958 car. I believe that if GM were to build a Camino in 1958, this is what it would look like. This car is referred to as a “phantom”. A phantom is a car that exists that was never in production making it a “one off”. The only car in the world of this design. This project was five years in the making from the time of concept to completion and is my best achievement to date.
The concept of this vehicle was envisioned when a friend told me he knew of a 1958 Nomad wagon in a field and it was for sale. I had a ‘58 Biscayne sedan that I was going to restore, but the wheels started turning and on the drawing board emerged a combination of the two cars. A 1958 El Camino.....but no, not Camino, Nomado....EL NOMADO.
This car incorporates the best of two worlds with the drive of a sedan and the capacity and durability of a wagon. So where to start.....Well, we will start with the engine and drive train.
The engine is a 1959 second generation 348CI with the coolant ports along the spark plugs in the heads to resolve the earlier overheating problems. Bored .30 over nice and clean, a complete rebuild, featuring three Rochester matched 2 barrels completely rebuilt, and a progressive linkage. Also a custom built fuel delivery system to each carb. An MSD Electronic ignition with a blaster coil and 8.8 silicone wires fire the big block. The valve covers and air cleaners are Mooneyes and are aluminum ribbed and matched.
Accessories in the engine compartment include a Griffin 4 core radiator with custom overflow tank, chrome 100 amp alternator, aluminum polished a/c compressor, powder coated new water pump and polished pulleys. The pulley system is by Foose and drives the GM mini power steering pump that operates the 605 steering box, and the power steering reservoir is custom aluminum polished. The radiator shroud is original NOS and chromed and the fan is fastened without a clutch and in the proper position for maximum cooling.
The Air Conditioning is Vintage Air and finished with polished fittings and steel braided hoses. The vacuum can is by Summit and handles the vacuum needs of the brakes easily. Of course all the wiring is new. The hood hinges and springs are powder coated as well as the hood latch mount.
Transmission and Drive Train:
Moving on to the transmission, it is a new rebuilt 2 speed aluminum powerglide controlled by a Hurst Custom shifter and cooled by steel lines that go through the Griffin radiator. Behind the transmission is a custom built extending driveshaft and carrier bearing unit that expands and contracts as the vehicle is lowered and raised. Followed by a new 336 Chevy rear. The 336 gears were utilized for great cruising speeds.
The suspension system is Air Ride Technologies. Computerised air ride controls all four corners, front alone, rear alone, and each side alone. The air compressor, valves, tank, master switch, relays and wiring are in the compartment in the bed just behind the cabin. The front upper and lower control arms have been reconditioned, front shock mounts relocated and steering components powder coated. The rear control arm is reconditioned and powder coated as will as the track bars, rear shock mounts and third member housing.
The frame was completely restored, utilizing media blasting, welding and restructuring, primed and coated with Emron black. All control arms, track bars and body mounts are new and set to perfect. Along the frame is new aluminum fuel line and new steel brake line as well as the lines for the air ride.
Four wheel disc brakes, powered by a dual system master cylinder and power booster. The brake rotors are drilled and vented and the calipers are new. The rear brake calipers are new and designed to operate the original e-brake system.
Boyd Coddington Crown Jewel 18” Wheels compliment this ride and sport Cooper Zeon Tires.
The color is a PPG Brickyard red sprayed over a cranberry color tint-able primer to achieve the copper color effect, then a slight pearl finish with 4 coats of clear.
This vehicle is a combination of two cars. A 1958 Nomad 4 door wagon and a 1958 Biscayne Sedan. To achieve the camino effect and give proportion to the project, the center of the Biscayne had to be incorporated into the center of the Wagon. This gives the vehicle a “car” look and the long doors add the proportion as well as car lines to the sides. The top was chopped 2” all around as well as the doors and the hatch window. The new windshield was cut 2” all around to fit into the frame and all the stainless was modified and recut to fit the new cabin style. The original lift gate of the wagon was moved and used as the rear hatch window and operates with electric poppers. The original top of the tailgate was cut and moved to function with the new hatch window and all the original latches are utilized. New window and door seals all around keep the cabin dry and eliminate any wind noise. The rear window is a heavy acrylic clear material and formed to fit. The doors have been modified to fit the new cabin design, glass and butterfly windows and frames rebuilt and redesigned to fit as well as window and frame seals. Doors are shaved and operate with poppers. Windows are electric, and controlled from switches on the console.
The interior as well as the bed is a creme colored leather with a slight orange tint, and the design of the side moldings are carried through out the project. The console is a two piece console front and rear, hand made and the stainless button head screws allow for removal of any section of the console that might need servicing. The driver seat is power. The steering column is chrome and manufactured by “I did It”. The speedometer is a new rebuild and calibrated. The original cluster is left to keep the classic look. The AM radio is a brand new OEM radio never installed in a car. This radio was found at auction complete new in it’s original box and unopened complete from manufacturer since 1958. The original box and hardware will go with the car. The car also has a pioneer sound system with booster and equalizer behind the seats hidden in another console. The sound system sports mp3, disc, am/fm, and satellite connection, with premium speakers and electric antennea frenched into right front fender.
The bed of the vehicle was modified and refabbed to accent the way this vehicle might have looked from the factory. The bed is covered with leather and moulded to accent the trim. There are two access compartments in the bed, the first behind the cabin which houses the air ride components and the vehicle battery, and the second, near the tail gate which is the spare tire compartment. The tailgate opens by pressing the Chevy Logo inside of the gate. The hardware in the gate was reversed to function this way. The tailgate is completely refabbed and the mouldings kept to traditional “Nomad” looks.
The front bumper is a one piece California bumper, the rear is a three piece, all the moulding is stainless and restored to original spec’s and color. The script “El Nomado” was custom drawn to match the original design of the day, then sent out to be fabricated by individual mould for the rear and the glove box.