Call her the Green Goddess: a six foot tall, four-door, 1924 Lafayette Motors production, complete with silk pull-down shades, nickel silver furnishings, polished wood steering wheel, and, for the discerning motorist, cut crystal opera glasses.
A one-of-a-kind vehicle, Jim Glover says. And after decades, ‘G.G.’ has returned home to Marietta where John Wilder Glover, Jim’s great-grandfather, first bought her nearly 100 years ago.
Back then, the Lafayette would have cost at least $5,000, per Mark McCourt, senior editor at Hemmings Motor News — about $76,000 today. Jim Glover called it “the equivalent of an American Rolls Royce.”
John Wilder Glover, descendant of Marietta’s first mayor, John Heyward Glover Jr., wasn’t a man to have just one top-line roadster. He also bought a Lafayette convertible to match.
“My family just seemed to have everything in pairs. We had two Lafayettes, two Chrysler Windsors, two Chrysler Saratogas, and two Hudson Hornets,” Jim Glover said.
Even in the old days, ‘G.G.’ was the talk of the town. Jim Glover’s father remembered when John Wilder Glover’s wife would drive through Marietta Square, cops would stop traffic in all directions when they saw “this petite little lady driving this big heavy car.”
During World War II, the tires were used for their rubber, and the car sat up on blocks for the next half century in the Glover Machine Works Warehouse, which built narrow-gauge locomotives. When the family sold the company, they decided to let the car go, too.
Thomas Harrington, a Marietta resident at the time, bought the old clunker from the family in 1995. He proceeded to spend over $200,000 restoring the car. Harrington then moved to Paris, and ended up auctioning it off to an Englishman.
Then, Jim Glover got a call from a friend of his who’d seen a strangely familiar car in a classified ad. Sure enough, it was the very same “G.G.”
“In fact, it even said something about the Glover family and the locomotive company and all of that. So that’s a dead giveaway,” Jim Glover said.
Jumping at the chance to bring the family heirloom back home, Jim Glover put in an inquiry. He got the car for $86,000 — “a pretty good deal,” he said, given the cost of restoring it. The car was loaded into a shipping container, and after five weeks at sea, rolled into the port of Savannah. It’s now back at the Glover family home, and “in beautiful condition.”
McCourt said less than 450 of the cars were built in 1924, and less than 2,000 of the 1920s-era Lafayettes were made in total.
“It’s got to be extremely rare,” McCourt said. The story of its long and winding road home relayed to him, McCourt was amazed. “That’s wild. That’s really, really cool.”
The Green Goddess will have its coming out performance this weekend at the Atlanta International Car Show, trailered into the city, of course.
“I don’t want to drive this car in downtown Atlanta,” Jim Glover said. He has a few other engagements planned, like Leadership Cobb’s Roaring Twenties party and a steeplechase in May. For now, he’s mostly getting reacquainted with the car.
“It’s about a seven step process to crank the engine,” Glover added. And as the car is driven and warms up, the radiator slowly opens. And how does it drive?
“Just beautifully,” he said.