Die Hard: Bruce Willis’ 1955 Nomad is back on the market
Believe it or not, Bruce Willis digs Bowties. If that doesn’t exactly mesh with the movie star’s tough-guy image, you’re probably thinking of the wrong kind of bowtie. Willis, who made a living playing rough-around-the-edges characters like John McClane in the Die Hard series, is a big Chevy fan. He’s owned plenty of them, from Corvettes to pickup trucks, and now one of his iconic rides could be yours. Again. In case you missed it the last three times around.
Willis’ gorgeous 1955 Bel Air Nomad, painted in ’50s-appropriate turquoise and white—officially it’s Cashmere Blue and India Ivory—is being offered on bringatrailer.com. With three days to go in the auction, bidding has reached $50,000 and will likely go much higher. How much higher is difficult to say, considering Willis’ celebrity status.
As we’ve detailed in our Power List, celebrity ownership tends to ascribe a premium to cars that sell at auction. Although Willis didn’t crack the top 10, he’s still an A-list actor who is approachable and affable with fans, so this Nomad has better odds than most to get at least a little bump from his fame, even though it’s been a while since Willis actually owned it.
This is at least the fourth time in 14 years that the wagon is changing hands. It sold for $46,800 at Bonhams’ 2008 California Classic auction, $73,700 at Barrett-Jackson’s 2014 Scottsdale auction, and was purchased by its current owner earlier this year.
Chevrolet introduced the Harley Earl-designed Nomad concept car at the 1954 General Motors Motorama, and it received such a positive response—despite its odd, two-door design—that production began in 1955. The two-door version carried on through 1957; Chevrolet unveiled the second-generation, four-door Nomad for 1958.
A new ’55 Bel Air Nomad could be had with a 235-cubic-inch “stovebolt” six-cylinder engine, or a 265-cubic-inch small-block V-8, but Willis’ Nomad is now powered by a 350-horse Turbo-Fire 327 V-8. Other upgrades include a Holley four-barrel carburetor, aluminum intake manifold, MSD electronic ignition system, Corvette-branded valve covers, aluminum radiator, and Stewart-Warner gauges. For enhanced braking capabilities, a Corvette dual master-cylinder is mounted in front of the vacuum booster, providing power assist to front disc brakes (drums are in the rear). The engine is mated to a three-speed automatic transmission.
The wagon’s exterior features include wrap-around windshield, side mirrors, sliding rear windows, two-piece tailgate, “Bel Air” and “Nomad” badging, twin tail fins with a concealed fuel filler under the left taillight assembly, and 15-inch Cragar wheels with Goodyear Eagle GT tires.
The Nomad also has beige and blue vinyl upholstery, air conditioning, and a custom audio system. The odometer shows 22,000 miles, although actual mileage is unknown.
Willis, 67, officially retired from movie making after he was diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder, in April 2022. His big break came on ABC TV’s Moonlighting series from 1985–89, but he became a Hollywood star with 1988’s Die Hard. Four more Die Hard movies followed, the last in 2013.
Willis also starred in hits like The Fifth Element, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
He was so popular in Japan in the early 1990s that he made multiple commercials for SoftBank, Daihatsu, and Subaru. Collectors know, however, that the true object of Willis’ automotive affection wears a Bowtie.
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