Before the Great Recession threw a wrench in its plans, General Motors seemed intent on competing in the affordable sports car segment with its rear-drive Kappa platform beyond the short-lived Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky (as well as international variants of the latter from the likes of Opel and Daewoo). Thanks to the market crash, we’ll never really know what would have been. That said, we do know the company teased the possibility of a small two-door wagon for the Chevrolet brand at the 2004 Detroit auto show. Christened the Nomad, the rear-drive concept drew some inspiration from the Corvette-based concept car that donned the same name a half of a century earlier (and less from the Camaro-based 1999 Nomad concept).
Power for the reborn Nomad concept came courtesy of a 250-hp turbocharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, which routed its grunt to the drive wheels by way of a five-speed automatic gearbox. We would have preferred a stick shift, and maybe a production version would have offered one, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The little Chevy was surprisingly versatile, too. Credit its 107.0-inch wheelbase—nearly 12 inches longer than that of the Solstice’s—that afforded the Nomad a reasonably sized cargo hold. A removable rear roof panel, sliding cargo floor, and a drop-down tailgate, replete with a rear window that rolled into it, ensured the Nomad could carry relatively large items with ease. And its clean, functional interior’s retro elements were classy rather than hokey.
Unfortunately, the revived Nomad followed the same path as the prior concept that inspired it, and the little wagon never made the jump from concept car to production vehicle. Frankly, we imagine the market for a small, rear-drive wagon was rather thin. That said, we still wish the Kappa platform had spawned a salable Chevy Nomad for enthusiasts like us to call their own.