My Car at Christmas 1999

The Building of Ann Smith's Gatsby Cabriolet

My Gatsby is the first of hopefully a long series of cars to be produced by JPR Cars. Ltd. This Cabriolet is built on a 1977 Ford Thunderbird frame. While most cars will come with the original donor's drive train, my car has a completely rebuilt early 70's Ford 302 engine and a rebuilt FMX transmission.

Pair of Fenders Development of this car began over seven years ago, but actual active construction got underway in the early spring of 1997, when Allen and I got married. This Cabriolet has undergone many changes and modifications from the original design. Each change has been designed to make the overall assembly of the Gatsby Cabriolet as easy as possible for all future builders.

The week of December 7, 1998, was a monumental week for us... we took the car (already insured, titled, tagged both on the state and local level) to get it inspected. At first we got the usual "I'm not sure what is required" comments from the inspector. After some research and telephone calls with the State Police, our car was finally approved to be road worth and legal. Praise the Lord!

Ann's Car Our next big achievement was getting it appraised. This was our preliminary inspection, to get the overall structure of the car documented. The initial appraisal was completed the end of December and the value came in at about $12,000. We hope to have it re-appraised shortly and the value should be well in the high $20's. After driving the car for several weeks, Allen decided that more changes needed to be made. One of the changes was to add one more inch in the picture frame to the Midget. This gives us more head room. Since we were using rather large seats we had them made slightly smaller, to give additional leg room.


All interior work is now complete, including the carpet. Hopefully, the rag top will not be too much longer in coming. Plans are in the works to have etched glass in the vent windows.

All of the sound system and wires are now installed. The sound system is a Kenwood am/fm cassette radio with a 10 disc CD changer and amplifier. All are mounted under the dash. We have two small speakers mounted under the dash and two 6X9 speakers mounted in the rear.

fender preparation rear fender

The final set of fenders are still under modification. In August of 1999 we finally completed the first mold for the driver's rear fender...and it looks great!

driver's side driver's side

The Navy has demanded an extremely large portion of Allen's time during the past year, and progress on the fenders has been almost nill. Hopefully, they will be done before the scheduled Med cruise this September. Say your prayers!

We plan to create a third piece that will fit in between the two front fenders. This is allow for our future cars to be built with just about any type of donor car. (Of course, the original design fenders are always available, with a couple of weeks notice.)

We will continue to add more pictures of the various items as they are tackled. Our car will hopefully make a fine addition to our club.

After many hours of consideration, we have decided to sell our first car. This was a hard decision for us to make, especially for me. It's sort of like selling your first child, if you know what I mean. We are asking only $22,500 for it as it sits right now, with the proto-type fenders. If we do get to take it all the way to completion and the fenders get painted, the asking price will be $29,500.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Summer! God bless you.

For photos related to the various parts of the car, click on that part's name below.

Chassis and donor cars, dash and dash support, outer dash cover, steering column, midget and picture frame, frame, gas tank and cover, horns, luggage rack and support, front and rear bumpers, wind shield wipers and motor, transmission, engine, brakes, side pipes, battery box, radiator, fenders, interior, hood panels, nose and grill, lights, stereo and rear speakers, rims and wheels, hood ornament, other options, Step-by-step guide to the building of our car (some pages under construction)

Ann Rittenhouse Smith
7675 Gatsby Lane
Gloucester, Virginia 23061 - USA
(804) 694-5995 ***

JPR Cars - / - Directory - / - Revised 05/04/2009

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