Terrific Tri-Five: This Nomadic Fuelie Still Clings To Its Roots!

fuelie

Oftentimes, we tout how today’s cars give the best of both worlds, providing performance with the creature comforts available through the latest technology. Sometimes, we forget that has always been the case. A fine example is Jerry Sealock’s stunning 1957 Chevrolet Nomad. Sure, it’s got all the style and classic lines of a 1957 Nomad, but it’s also got enough power packed under the hood and creature comforts inside to please the most discriminating enthusiast.

fuelie

The “EK” coded 283 in Jerry’s ’57 Nomad uses the first design mechanical fuel injection unit to make 283 hp.

The flowing lines of a ’57 Nomad can get your attention pretty quickly, but you may miss the crossed flags and fuelie emblem in the process. According to available records, of the 1,530 full-sized fuelies that Chevrolet made, only 109 of them were Nomads. And, according to the previous owners that Jerry Sealock has been able to speak with, this ’57 Nomad is one of them.

Who wouldn't love to find a fuelie unit residing under the hood of their '57 Chevy?

That means it left the factory with its “EK”-coded engine (283/283 hp) fuelie engine, along with a long list of other options. For starters, Jerry’s Nomad also has self-dimming headlights, power steering, WonderBar radio, electric wipers, deluxe heater, seat belts, and a vacuum ashtray that sucks the ashes up into a little jar. Jerry shared with us, “Most folks don’t even know what a vacuum ashtray is”!

The interior of Jerry's Nomad is just as he purchased it in 2012.

Jerry was originally searching for a ’55 Nomad when he located this car in a Houston Craigslist ad and went to look at the car. He says, “I got talkin’ with the ol’ boy, and the numbers matched!” The car had only 45,000 miles on the odometer, and being a southern, low-mileage car, it was in great shape.

But, Jerry explained, “He was super-high on the price, and I couldn’t give that.” About four months went by, then Jerry got a call; he said, “Come get it if you want it.” Jerry reports that he was there the next day.

The mechanical fuel injection made the most of getting fuel and cool air into the engine. Unfortunately, these units suffered from fuel siphoning, which filled any cylinder whose intake valve was open at the time with raw fuel. Anti-siphon valves weren't added until 1960 production.

After The Sale

The under hood was totally original, and the inside is just the way Jerry purchased the car. Then, after owning the car for about three months, Jerry went to a Goodguys show. The car still had the factory 4.11 gears in the differential that it got from the factory, and as Jerry was cruising along at about 60 miles an hour when a rod let go deep in the engine. Turns out, the cause is one quite familiar to anyone with a history of working with these early fuelie units. The earliest fuelies (1957 being the first year) had an issue with fuel siphoning into a cylinder while the engine was at rest, then, when you tried to start the engine, the fuel-filled cylinder would hydro-lock when you hit the starter. This could easily compromise the connecting rod’s integrity, which could then reveal itself at around ’60 miles an hour on your way to a Goodguys event.

fuelie

Jerry was able to save the block, and the engine was rebuilt back to “EK” status. In the process, Jerry also added a set of 3.36 gears in the rear and a stainless exhaust. He’s back enjoying his ’57 fuelie Nomad, and for the second year in a row, he’s driven the 750 miles to the Tri-Five Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He reports that with the new gears and the factory ’57 overdrive, his mechanically fuel-injected full-sized Chevy clicked off almost 20 miles to the gallon.

The AutoTronic bulb for the automatic headlight dimmer is evident upon the dash. This was trick stuff back in ’57!

Some may question the performance and comfort found in Jerry’s Nomad, and whether a full-sized car with a high-lift cammed V8 can actually get almost 20 mpg. Others may wonder whether that fuelie unit really did leave the factory under the hood of Jerry’s car. That doesn’t bother Jerry, as he puts it all in perspective. “Ya know, I don’t know. But I say it is what it is!” That’s all the performance and comfort that Jerry ever wanted.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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