Oddball: Bob Cruzan’s Gatsby Cabriolet
We love the Internet. You can spend hours on a virtual stroll and come across numerous unique and fascinating things that you’ve never come across before. Like this car, for example, which came to us via Twitter from one of our freelancers who had somehow discovered it on his meanderings across the worldwide web. We clicked the link and saw… well, we weren’t really sure what we saw, to be honest. It was an advert on an American site called AutoTrader Classics, and it was entitled 2000 BMW Custom, which it certainly is. The back end definitely looked like a BMW, an E30, and you could see most of the body’s lines in the shape of the car; the interior too was unmistakably that of an E30, but as for the rest of it, well we had no idea. We could have left it there but curiosity got the better of us and we dropped the seller an email via the site, hoping to find out a bit more about this weird and wonderful creation.
Not long after, an email popped into our inbox from one Bill Cruzan, owner and seller of what transpired to be a Gatsby, or at least based on a Gatsby. But the heck is one of those when it’s at home? Bob explains: ”This car was originally a Gatsby. A company in San Jose, California, built and sold kits to build these cars. The kit for the original Gatsby (one of the donor cars) included two hood panels, two fenders, a hood ornament, and six hubcaps. You could buy a kit that included every piece of the car if you wanted. A Gatsby was built around an MG Midget and usually was fitted on a large Ford frame and I bought one and built it back in 1984.” Bob’s original Gatsby Cabriolet, the pictures of which can be found online, took him three months and a staggering 700 hours to build, at a total cost of $13,000.
“I sold the car and later bought back with the intent of a complete makeover and I built the second car in 2000. A 1988 BMW 325i was purchased as the second donor car. Two frame rails were attached to the BMW. They were bolted in several locations including the bumper mounts, suspension mounting points, and rear of the unibody rails. The front portion of the Ford frame was attached to the two frame rails. All of the original 325i engine and electrical components were untouched. This car can be serviced by anyone that is capable of working on BMWs. I did all of the fabrication, body and paintwork. I guess I did everything but the upholstery work.”
It’s an incredible looking creation, that’s for sure, and while some folks might baulk at the thought of an E30 being chopped up to create something like this, we admire Bob’s vision and have massive respect for his hands-on skills! You’d have to be a pretty confident driver to pilot something this long, too, and while you might struggle to squeeze it through your traditional British village, we wager it’s more than at home out in Indiana. “It drives as nice as it looks,” says Bob, “and has all of the normal BMW amenities plus more,” like a false floor in the boot that hides a cooler, for example. “Gas mileage usually averages 20mpg,” he says, “ and it’s a head turner! I have had several nice cars but this one seems to appeal to all ages! Every drive you take will put a smile on your face!” And you know what? We’re not surprised.
Engine: BMW M20B25 2.5-litre straight-six
Transmission: Three-speed auto
How many: Only one like this
What is it: Wild fantasy soft-top