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Was gatsby’s car green?

The color of Jay Gatsby’s car in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby has sparked much debate among scholars and readers. While the text never explicitly states the color of Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce, there are clues throughout the novel that suggest it was green.

Evidence for a Green Car

Here is the evidence that points to Gatsby’s car being green:

  • It is referred to as a “green light” at the end of Daisy’s dock, which some argue is a metaphor for both Gatsby’s dream and his car.
  • When Nick first sees Gatsby, he describes his “gorgeous” car as appearing to be “fresh from a paint-shop.” This implies a shiny, new paint job.
  • In Chapter 7, Gatsby’s car is described as 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.” Cream is close to a light green hue.
  • Green was known at the time as a showy color associated with wealth and extravagance, which fits Gatsby’s character.
  • The 1925 Rolls-Royce Gatsby drove was available in green, a popular color choice.

The Case Against a Green Car

Despite this circumstantial evidence, some are not convinced Gatsby’s car was green. Here are the counterarguments:

  • The text explicitly describes Gatsby’s car as “a rich cream color” in Chapter 7, using the specific word “cream.”
  • Some symbolic interpretations argue the “green light” refers to the American dream and hope, not a physical car.
  • The “fresh paint” quote may simply mean the car looks new, not necessarily green.
  • Rolls-Royces in the 1920s came in many colors, not just green.

Fitzgerald’s Inspiration

To better understand his intent, it helps to examine F. Scott Fitzgerald’s own experience with cars:

  • Fitzgerald owned a green 1922 Rolls-Royce while living on Long Island, the inspiration for West Egg and East Egg.
  • He drove a green Rolls-Royce when visiting Great Neck, the real town represented by West Egg.
  • Letters describe Fitzgerald driving around in a “green car.”

This suggests the green color choice was likely inspired by Fitzgerald’s personal experience and his own Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce Models and Colors in the 1920s

To dig deeper into the cars of the time period, here is a breakdown of the Rolls-Royce models and color options in the 1920s:

Model Year Available Colors
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 1921 – 1925 Ivory, olive green, light green, crimson, royal blue, grey
Rolls-Royce Phantom I 1925 – 1929 Dove grey, burgundy, navy blue, green, royal blue, silver

As shown in the table, green was a popular color choice for luxury Rolls-Royce cars of that era. Both the Silver Ghost and Phantom I could be painted light or olive green.

Symbolism of Green in The Great Gatsby

Beyond the make and model of car, the color green itself carries symbolic meaning connected to Gatsby:

  • Green represents Gatsby’s continual striving for a better future.
  • It symbolizes his longing and hope to reunite with Daisy.
  • As the color of money, it reflects Gatsby’s wealth and status.
  • Green is associated with Spring and new birth, echoing Gatsby’s desire to start afresh.

This evidence shows green is very much tied to Fitzgerald’s intentions for the character. Describing the car as green seems a deliberate choice to reinforce this symbolism.


While the text remains ambiguous, the preponderance of evidence strongly suggests Jay Gatsby drove a green Rolls-Royce. Details about Fitzgerald’s personal experience with a green Rolls, the availability of green cars at the time, and the symbolic meaning of the color green all argue in favor of this interpretation. With the green light being one of the most famous images from the novel, it makes sense this symbol would be carried through to the description of Gatsby’s lavish vehicle. For these reasons, most literary analysts conclude that Fitzgerald did indeed intend for Gatsby’s car to be a vivid, shiny green, reflecting both his wealth and his dreams.