The AMX Palm Beach stretched out to 176 inches overall. Curb weight was a hair under 2,600 pounds, with 54.4 percent of that on the front wheels. High performance was obviously not the object of this exercise, though wheel-base and length were quite close to that of Ford's two-seat Thunderbird (102/175.3) and Chevy's increasingly popular Corvette (102/168). Styling was typical of Farina in the Fifties, with certain elements that now seem quite passé, especially the subdued tailfins, wrapped windshield, and the curiously notched lower bodyside moldings.
The overall proportions were well considered, though, as was the Ferrari-like oval grille with flanking air scoops. The low hoodline dictated the sole engine modification, a sidedraft Weber carburetor. A concession to the glistening flamboyancy of the decade was the chromed back panel, set above a wide, U-shaped bumper containing neatly integrated dual exhaust outlets. The only hint at a Rambler connection was the Circle-R badges on the nose and distinctive "twin cowl" rear deck.
Befitting its name, the Palm Beach was quite cushy inside. Deep-pile carpeting covered the floor and the entire trunk, and the twin semi-bucket seats were formed over foam rubber bases and covered in top-grain beige leather. The dash was quite predictive of Bertone designs for Alfa Romeo in the Sixties, with the instruments gathered in two large round nacelles ahead of the dual-spoke wood-rim steering wheel. The wheel was telescopically adjustable and delivered just three turns lock-to-lock.
A between-seats bolster could accommodate a small third passenger (preferably a child). Instrumentation included a tach, total and trip mileage recorders, plus water temperature, oil pressure, and manifold pressure gauges. The only glitch was the downward-angled, far-forward turn signal stalk, which this author kept nudging with his left knee when operating the clutch pedal.
Despite recent rumors to the contrary, only one example of this intriguing car was ever built. AMC was hard put to parry enthusiastic inquiries about production prospects for the Palm Beach. We remember overhearing one observer in Dearborn remark: "If AMC would only produce that job, there'd be hundreds of us buying American again." But AMC needed cars that would sell in the hundreds of thousands, and it simply had no money at the time for a low-volume gran turismo that would be a showroom traffic builder at best.
As we know, AMC did go on to be quite successful in later years. Not long after showing the Palm Beach, it killed off Nash and Hudson in favor of the Rambler, which rose to the top five in industry sales by 1960. The AMX show cars appeared a few years later to liven up the company's image, and inspired the production AMX and the Javelin ponycar introduced for 1968. All were quite different from the Palm Beach, of course, but they were at least the spiritual descendants of this first, nearly forgotten "AMX."