My Car Quest

August 16, 2022

The Nash Rambler Palm Beach – A Car That I Missed

by Wallace Wyss –

Ya know the phrase “duh” that you say when something is revealed that you knew but didn’t follow up on? Only to find out that it was to your great financial loss….

Well, duh. The Nash Rambler Palm Beach was a one-off car bodied on a Nash chassis by Pinin Farina (when the company name was still two names) back in ’56, when Detroit automakers had “Italian fever” and were assigning different carrozzerias the job of making “dream” cars (the nickname before “concept” cars.)

Nash Rambler Palm Beach

Some of these Italo-American cars reached production–the Nash Healey, for instance–and Cadillac actually got 99 Cadillacs bodied by Pinin Farina, American motors, just couldn’t come up with the numbers to build it. And then the chassis and engine had no race car potential like many other cars bodied by hand in Italy.

Pinin Farina’s design shows a bit too much of the Harley Earl influence from GM with those tail fins. The grille is a great jet fighter style air intake (or cribbed from the Lancia 200) The bubble lamps are Ferrari-like except they probably wouldn’t have been legal in the US though ironically Ferrari had them in the US legal 1965 275GTB. Rambler “R” emblems on the hubcaps are the only clues to what country this car is from.

Nash Rambler Palm Beach

Front fenders great – Rears, not so much.

It had two blisters on the rear deck. I’ve never seen it with the hardtop off, but surmise these were meant to be in imitation of the headrest blisters in European race cars. I think the two blisters influenced the ’58 Thunderbird.

Plus the name of the car was from a resort on the sea, much as Cadillac had the Biarritz convertible named after a seaside resort in Europe. It had two bucket seats, a tan interior, and a pleasing dash with light brown faces on the two big gauges.

Nash Rambler Palm Beach

Painted in metallic emerald green, the Palm Beach premiered at Pinin Farina’s stand at the Turin Auto Show next to the considerably more noticed Alfa Romeo Super Flow I, a car with a racing chassis, and the Lancia America. After American Motors went in other directions the car ended up in the Henry Ford Museum in the spring of 1957. That same year it wowed readers by being on the cover of Motor Trend’s August 1957 issue.

So the reason I kick myself whenever I see the car pictured is that:

a.) I grew up in Detroit

b.) I knew Roy Chapin was head of American Motors for awhile.

I knew top executives had a way of taking home dream cars after their show career, Harley Earl took so many that he even gave them away!

Nash Rambler Palm Beach

There is a great automotive library in Detroit. If I had thought of it at the time, I could have asked the librarian where that car went. I would have probably found it went to Chapin’s garage when he retired. It was there until 2007 when a frequent winner at Pebble Beach bought it and began a restoration. He died before it was finished but a subsequent owner bought it and it made the lawn at Pebble Beach in 2009.

So I see it now and say “duh”, another treasure lost (to me anyway) through a lack of due diligence….By the way Gooding sold it at their auction for $528,000 in 2011.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car books. Today he busies himself with oil painting portraits of the great classics.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Nash Rambler Palm Beach

Summary
The Nash Rambler Palm Beach - A Car That I Missed
Article Name
The Nash Rambler Palm Beach - A Car That I Missed
Description
The Nash Rambler Palm Beach was a one-off car bodied on a Nash chassis by Pinin Farina (when the company name was still two names) back in '56, when Detroit automakers had "Italian fever".
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Comments

  1. Brian Winer says

    Motor? Rambler inline 6, or maybe an early Rambler V8?

  2. Dan Eastwood says

    Franco Scaglione – trained aerodynamicist and genius designer of the Bertone B.A.T. series – had a brief career with Pininfarina that lasted less than a year before he left & went to Bertone. I’ve often wondered what influence he may have had at Pininfarina… With it’s jet intake, I wonder if this car may have been initiated by Scaglione, as Pininfarina did not continue the design later (other than a similar looking Lancia one-off) while one of Scaglione’s first cars for Bertone was the Fiat Abarth 1500 ‘Biposto’ which appears to have been heavily influenced by early jet aircraft.

    Does anyone know who designed this Nash Palm Beach at Pininfarina?

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