Cars are a very important part of The Great Gatsby, from when Myrtle waves off cab after cab in the beginning of the book til when Daisy runs Myrtle over in the end. Back in the 1920's however, the types of cars available were very limited. So how can we really understand the characters in the book when we can't appreciate the stature of their vehicles? That's where the 21st century comes into play.
Car of the Time Period: 1937 Cord
The Cord 810 and 812 were some of the most fashionable and notable cars of their time. While Auburn Automobile Company were eventually forced to declare bankruptcy, they left behind more than 2000 of these metallic powerhouses. The massive hood of this car hosts a V8 from Lycoming, which puts into perspective the power of the car. It is important to first learn about this car before we start exploring the modern day equivalents. Note that while this car may be about a decade after the time frame of The Great Gatsby, it is a perfect representation of the level of luxury these characters had in terms of cars. This is also important because cars were just coming around, so the fancier your car, the richer you were. It is equivalent to driving a Tesla model S (its a new sports car that is fully electric): people will notice.
We had to put a lot of thought into what Gatsby's current day car would be. Ultimately, our decision came down to who he was as a person. Gatsby is someone who lives a rich life, but cannot necessarily be classified as a rich person. What we mean is that he does not compare to someone like Tom Buchanan, who comes across as a rich snobb. Instead, Gatsby is more of a classy guy, someone who truly fills the ideal protagonist's shoes. So there is only one car that embodies classiness like Gatsby does: the Pagani Huayra. This car is often cited as one of the most elegant cars of our time, pushing the boundaries on both performance and luxury. While it may not stress upscale-ness like Rolls-Royce, it still does fine job of getting someone from point A to point B, and it is sure to get someone noticed, even perhaps by that special someone. We essentially picked this car for Gatsby because while it may not be the fanciest car (just as Gatsby is not the richest person in the novel), it exudes classiness, just like Jay Gatsby. Also as a side note, these cars are extremely rare, with only 18 people in the US owning one. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that they are $1.6 million a piece.
Nick Carraway's Modern Day Car
Nick Carraway is the narrator of this book, but we actually don't learn too much about him. The whole story focuses more on the conflict and relationships between Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, and Daisy. With that being said, Nick is still a vital character in this novel. His vantage point allows us to see the characters and plot develop from a perspective that is only mildly affected by the occurring changes. Ultimately, we see that Nick Carraway as the embodiment of an up-comer, someone who has worked their way to their current status, someone who understands the value of wealth. So he must have a modern day car that reflects him. What car is that? The Maserati GranTurismo. This is an elegant car, but it does not cost as much as a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or a Pagani. Maserati is an entry-level super car brand: the GranTurismo's market price is around $125,000. But just because it is a less expensive car doesn't mean it has less value. Just like Nick is very crucial to this story, Maserati is an important car brand in the industry, mainly because they are on the forefront of innovation and because what they create gets put into more economical cars like Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Peugeot.
Tom Buchanan' Modern Day Car
Tom Buchanan is the snob of the book. He is the Bourgeois character, someone who has always had money, and lives the rich life as if he didn't know anything else. His superiority complex comes out especially when he interacts with George Wilson, a humble mechanic who lives in the Valley of the Ashes. But Fitzgerald also highlights Tom as an antagonist by making him immoral, specifically by having an affair with Myrtle. The author subtly hints at the immorality of Tom's affair by making Myrtle live in the Valley of the Ashes, a quite desolate and dreary place. Nevertheless, when it comes to the car that Tom would drive, there is no doubt that it would be a Bugatti Veyron 16.4. This is known in the car world as THE fastest car known to man. But it doesn't stop there: it is also one of the most luxurious and technologically advanced. The savviness of this car is representative of Tom Buchanan in that everything about this car is high end, except for the fuel economy. At top speed, this car gets less than 4 mpg. So to drive the car, one must have a low regard for money. This emphasizes Tom's "living life in the fast lane" attitude, the fact that he cares more about himself than anyone else, and that he doesn't recognize the importance of money like Nick or George do.
Myrtle Wilson's Modern Day car
We decided to have a little fun with Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle is one of those people that wants to live the American dream. One can see in the way that she treats George Wilson, her husband, and Tom Buchanan, her lover, that she is spoiled and greedy. F Scott Fitzgerald illustrates this specifically when Myrtle and Nick first meet. The author has her wave off cab after cab until she sees a lavender-colored one, which shows that she is spoiled because lavender or purple has represented royalty and wealth, ever since the nobility of Ancient Greece wore purple togas. But this is in stark contrast to her real life at home in the Valley of the Ashes. So to demonstrate the contrast, we have selected two cars for her, one to represent her real life and one to represent her dream life. Her dream life car is the Koenigsegg Agera R. This sports car straight out of Switzerland is nothing short of a speed demon. When Top Gear star Jeremy test drove this car on the Top Gear Test Track, he was able to surpass the speed of the Pagani Zonda, the previous record holder. But at the same time, it has a rugged feel to it; it doesn't have that luxury feel that most sports cars have. These two factors in tandem exemplify Myrtle because it illustrates how she wants to live life in the fast lane, and she wants to live in luxury. But at the same time, she comes from "humble" beginnings. This can be represented by another car, the Ford Pinto. The Ford Pinto is one of the most notorious cars in automobile history, mostly because of how prone it was to damage. Right behind the rear fender was a steel pin that was pointing at the gas tank. So any Pinto that got rear-ended in the slightest exploded. See in the infamy? The poor design of this car represents Myrtle's disagreeable mental and physical complex from the reader's perspective.