Last year in our email newsletter we told you about customizer Lee Pratt’s ongoing restoration of his wild ‘60s-era ’55 Chevy Nomad custom. The car has a storied past, having gone from the show circuit to the drag strip then nearly to the scrap yard before finally making its way back to Lee’s garage. Now he and a close group of friends from across the country are in the final push to finish the car for this January’s Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. And we’ve got a sneak peek at what they’ve been up to.
One of the many cool things about our hobby is that it revolves around friendships. Most hot rods and customs are built with the help of our pals, and Lee’s Nomad is no different. One such friend is noted custom painter and artist Tom Davison, whose ‘60s show car history was detailed in Scrapbook. Back when he first built the Nomad, Lee designed and laid out the wild paint scheme and Tom stepped in to spray it. A pearl lavender base was covered with candy purple and Metalflake fades, a lavender Metalflake top with candy lace panels, and seaweed flames in nearly every direction.
The interior was treated to black tuck-and-roll with purple button-tuft accents, and the whole affair rolled on Buick Skylark wire wheels and thin whitewalls with a hydraulic front suspension. It was the first custom to gain Lee national attention when it was featured in the November ’69 Rod & Custom (we showed a few shots of this iteration of the Nomad back in TRJ #13).
Fast forward nearly 50 years to this past Thanksgiving and Tom was on a plane from his home in Arizona to Lee’s home in Austin, Texas, to do it all over again. The two spent a long weekend laying out the signature fades and flames and spraying it in PPG acrylic lacquer (with a healthy dose of Murano pearl). This time Lee did the spraying as Tom, who has become an accomplished photographer in recent years, clicked the shutter to document their days in the shop.
A number of Austin hot rodders have also pitched in on the build. Reggie Hill is currently putting the finishing touches on the ’62 327 Chevy that will provide motivation. You may remember from our previous newsletter that Lee was able to track down the car’s original interior, but a few pieces needed some attention. Austin upholsterer Vernon McKeon is handling that task. Austin hot rodders are a tight-knit group, and there are others who are part of this story, but we’ll save some of those details for the future.
We’re excited to see the Nomad’s debut at the Grand National Roadster Show next month. But maybe even more importantly we’re just happy to hear about a group of friends going to such lengths to work on an old car. “It’s been pretty amazing the willingness of some of these guys to fly halfway across the country to help out,” Lee says. “I’m pretty humbled by it.” Especially at this time of year, it’s nice to acknowledge our friends and what they do for us, and it’s good to see the spirit of hot rodding and camaraderie is alive and well.