CC Capsule: 1965 Chevelle Nomad Ply-Woody Wagon

[Welcome another new CC Contributor, David Kehl, also known as Davo around the curbstones here]

Traditional station wagons are not as common a sight on the roads as they used to be. The family station wagon market has largely been ceded to the SUV and minivan makers, yet some companies continue to produce them for what is now a niche market. It’s pretty rare these days to see a genuine station wagon, let alone a mid-1960s wagon, so when I spotted this Chevelle Malibu wagon in a parking lot, I had to get a closer look. At first glance, which was from the rear, this Chevelle Malibu wagon looked like a well used survivor. The paint appeared original, apart from the tell tale rust that is breaking through.

The profile view revealed something missing, evidence of major front-end sheet metal damage. The owner has obviously gone to extra-ordinary and unusual lengths to get this car back on the road. Let’s take a closer look.

Here’s the view of the front-left fender, or where it should be. The owner replaced some of the original sheet metal with a home-made welded steel frame that is bolted onto the chassis. This frame supports the radiator, hood, and the light assembly. I think I can say without any hesitation that when all her skirts are removed, this Chevelle Malibu isn’t a pretty sight.

The front view gives a different angle of the owner’s custom repairs. It doesn’t look pretty, but it works.

I was pretty shocked when I first saw the front of this car; however, the more I looked at it, the more I appreciated the owner’s efforts to keep it on the road. I like the rough cut metal frame, the less than perfect welds, the broken non-standard headlight, the non-standard front and side turn signals, and the coolant/antifreeze overflow container that hangs out there for all to see like an automotive colostomy bag. The car seems to have a good set of Michelin tires. The owner appears to spend money on what really counts, rather than appearances.

My favorite part of this car is the new hood, a cut-down sheet of plywood bolted to the homemade steel sub frame. Does that make this car a Chevelle Malibu Plywoody? The plywood has been aged by a combination of wet weather, sunlight and heat from the V-8 engine it covers.

I applaud anyone who can keep a 45 year old car on the road for use as a daily driver. I also admire the lengths to which this owner has gone to keep this particular damaged car on the road. For many people, cars are an obsession, or an object of desire. This car, however, demonstrates a different view, namely that cars are still just transportation, and it doesn’t matter how old it is, or how ugly it is, whether its been beaten up and kept on the road with parts from Home Depot, as long as it get the driver safely from A to B, it’s a perfectly adequate form of transportation.