What Would Jay Gatsby Drive in the Roaring 2020s?

The Art Deco movement gave us some of the most beautiful cars in history. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby centered around a yellow 1922 Rolls-Royce with long, flowing, instantly recognizable lines. But what would this unforgettable tycoon drive in the roaring 2020s?

Jay Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce

Robert Redford playing Jay Gatsby, leaning against a 1928 Roll-Royce car.
Robert Redford and 1928 Rolls-Royce | Paramount via Getty Images

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In all the film adaptations of The Great Gatsby, the tycoon’s cars have been larger than life. When Robert Redford played Jay Gatsby in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 adaptation he drove a 1928 Roll-Royce Phantom I Ascot Phaeton. In Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film, Leonardo DiCaprio drove a 1929 Duesenberg Model J.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel was a bit vague about the model, but clear about its size:

 “It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.”

The Great Gatsby

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6

Long red coupe concept car built by Mercedes-Maybach.
Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 | Mercedes Benz

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The only modern car with the presence of Jay Gatsby’s original Roll-Royce is the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept car. For its first electric concept car, Mercedes’ Maybach division aimed for something timeless. The result transcended the early 21st century: it would be breathtaking in any decade.

This Vision by Mercedes-Maybach gets the “6” in its name from its incredible 6-meter bumper-to-bumper length. With its incredibly long hood and rear cabin, the car only has room for two full-size seats.

The concept car’s electric powertrain makes over 700 horsepower and claims a 200-mile range. Without an engine up front, its butterfly hood is packed with custom luggage. Maybach has built both a coupe and convertible version of the concept. No modern car would make as fitting an addition to Jay Gatsby’s garage.

Rolls-Royce Boat Tail

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This modern, one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce is certainly worthy of Jay Gatsby. This unique car is a collaboration between Rolls-Royce’s Coachbuilt division and a customer with a vision.

The Boat Tail’s mysterious owner professed a lifelong fascination with the ocean–just like Gatsby. They also told Rolls-Royce Coachbuilt that their favorite color is an “oceanic” blue. Finally, they once lovingly restored a classic 1932 Rolls Royce Boat Tail.

Inspired by this client, Rolls Royce Coachbuilt designed and built a unique, modern, art deco roadster. The car is a convertible coupe with a Caleidolegno wood rear deck, reminiscent of a luxury yacht.

Best of all, the Boat Tail’s rear deck is a functional butterfly trunk: with the push of a button, both panels of the deck flip upward, revealing a custom picnic kit. The Boat Tail’s trunk holds chairs, a table, glassware, and even a champagne chiller.

The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail would be a modern Jay Gatsby’s favorite way to whisk Daisy Buchanan away for a picnic.

Bugatti Type 35 D

Blue Bugatti sports car concept.
Bugatti Type 35 D concept | Uedelhoven Studios

No car brand better represents the 1920s than Bugatti. Ettore Bugatti was an artist by trade, an engineer by necessity, and one of the first designers to “build lightness” into his cars. The resulting Type 35 Grand Prix was one of the winningest race cars of the 1920s.

Bugatti leveraged its racing livery into a series of Grand Touring coupes with powerful racing engines. The modern Bugatti Veyron and Chiron are true to this lineage.

But back in the 1920s, playboys like Jay Gatsby bought their own open-wheeled Bugatti Type 35 race cars to race from one exotic location to another. And the modern Bugatti company offers no such car.

Bugatti hired Uedelhoven Studios in German to develop a unique concept car, a modern take on the Type 35. The resulting Type 35 D is an open-wheeled roadster, similar in philosophy to the original Type 35. But it has wide modern tires, modern air intakes, and even a rear diffuser like you find on modern supercars. The Type 35 D is very much a modern Bugatti with seats and gauges out of a Chiron.

We can absolutely imagine a modern Jay Gatsby winding along the shore of Long Island in a this Type 35 D.

See Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby driving his Dusenberg in the 2013 film:

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