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1957 Chevrolet Nomad
Manufacturer: Johnny Lightning
Release date 2007 (This one: Class of 57)
Catalog number: 244
Date Purchased: March 2007
Date Completed May 2007
Number in collection: 3

I'm really starting to miss station wagons. There are currently just a handful available in the US, and I can only think of a couple that I'd considering owning. This segment has been replaced almost entirely by SUV's. They me useful and practical, but they just seem to lack, in my eyes anyway, the style that some wagons in the past had. One of the best examples was the Chevrolet Nomad, produced in limited numbers between 1955 and 1957. These cars offered the extra space of a station wagon, but in a more stylish package resembling the 2 door hardtop version of the same car.

Johnny Lightning made a nice replica of the Chevrolet Nomad, which I bought in 2007. Like other JL cars, they offer nice enough detail to look good as purchased. I've found that with a minimum of effort, can be made to look even nicer. Being an older issue, this is when their cars still had a metal chassis, as opposed to the plastic that the company uses today.

At the time I bought this car, I didn't have any way to drill out the rivets that usually hold the body and chassis together. I was able to detail the exterior, chassis, and engine (if provided) just as well as I do today. I had to leave the interiors pretty much alone, unless the car had an open top. I have decided to revisit these early cars, disassemble them, and add details that I wasn't able to add originally.

As I originally worked on this car before I started photographing them, pictures will be limited to ones taken during its recent changes.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Disassembly was done by drilling out two body-to-chassis rivet at each end of the car. The parts breakdown is as follows:
  • The die-cast body with separate hood, painted metallic green with a light yellow roof. Emblems and body mouldings are tampo-printed markings.
  • a black plastic, two-piece engine assembly. The air cleaner is a separate piece, with the remainder of the engine detail cast into the other.
  • An unpainted die-cast metal chassis. Wheels/tires and axles are held in place by cast pins, which have been pressed to hold the axles in place.
  • Tires are soft and have printed whitewalls. Wheels are chrome-plated plastic, with a non-stock design. Backing plates are black plastic, and have the ends of the axles riveted to the inside surface.
  • A black plastic one piece interior with seat and side panels moulded to it. The steering wheel and dash presses onto pins moulded into the body. The steering wheel appears to be a separate piece glued to the dashboard. I didn't separate these, as I didn't want to risk damaging them. The dash also serves to hold the hood in place.
  • A single piece clear window assembly, riveted to the inside of the body.
  • The front and rear bumpers, which are chrome-plated plastic and attach to pins cast into the chassis.

I felt that the overall casting and printed markings were close enough to the actual car. After disassembling the car, only paint and foil were used to detail the car.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear.
  • Engine: I painted the basic engine piece Testors Chevrolet engine red. I detailed the fan belt and radiator hose with Testors acrylic flat black. The air cleaner and generator are painted Tamiya semi-gloss black. The exhaust manifolds are highlighted with Tamiya steel.
  • Chassis: Entire piece is painted Testors acrylic flat black. Engine, transmission, frame, suspension and exhaust system details were painted with Testors Chevrolet engine red, Tamiya flat steel, aluminum, and semi-gloss black.
  • Interior: Seats, dash, and door panels are painted a mix of Testors flat dark green, flat yellow, and gold, in a shade that comes close to match the primary body color. Seat and door panel insets are Testors acrylic flat black. Carpeted areas are painted a mix of Testors flat dark green and flat yellow. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Body: Painted grill with flat black, then rubbed paint from grill bars after it dried. Applied Bare-Metal foil to window trim, side mouldings, headlights, tailgate strips, and outside of grill area. Painted taillights with Tamiya clear red, headlights and parking lights with Testors flat white.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to re-assembly.

Assembly was completed by pressing the parts together, filling the old rivet holes with epoxy putty, and touching up the filled holes with paint to match the chassis plate.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

While the overall car looks nice, something about the proportions don't seem totally correct. The table below shows how the model measurements compare to the actual car.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 5080 / 200.0 73 / 2.89 4698 / 185.0 1:69
Wheelbase 2921 / 115.0 42 / 1.64 2662 / 104.8 1:70
Width 1877 / 73.9 28 / 1.10 1829 / 70.7 1:67
Height 1521 / 59.9 23 / .92 1496 / 58.9 1:65

Johnny Lightning cars are generally assumed to be 1:64, but as you can see, this one is just about anything BUT 1:64. Height and width are the closest, but the shorter length makes the car look smaller than it really is. I sometimes wonder if cars that are larger in real life are scaled smaller in order to fit packaging constraints. If this is the case, I just wish they had kept the scale of all major dimensions consistant, in order to avoid a model that just doesn't look 'right'.

Aside for the small scale, I'm as pleased with the results of my original detailing efforts as I am as of this writing, which is a span of over six years. All I added was interior and engine detail, leaving any other work I originally had done untouched. I'm also glad I bought it when I did, as I haven't seen in released since then.

Liked what you saw? More cars can be found HERE .

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