In The Great Gatsby, why did Tom ask Gatsby if his car had a standard shift? Automatic shift wasn't invented until years later.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The make of Gatsby's car isn't specified, but its many opulent features suggest it is a Rolls Royce. In asking if it is standard shift, Tom is most likely referring to the shift pattern, since it is an English rather than American car. The 1922 Rolls Royce featured a 3-speed manual transmission. In the 1974 movie, Gatsby's car is a 1928 Rolls Royce, which is historically inaccurate since the novel is set in 1922, but it does look much like Gatsby's "circus wagon," as Tom refers to it in the novel.

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The Great Gatsby

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