Hadley Green Garage must be one of the country’s longest established prestige care dealers. Founded in 1919, the company is only twelve years away from its centenary, but it remains a family business that takes pride in maintaining the same values it championed in the early decades of the last century.
Harry Green, who had served an apprenticeship with the Daimler Motor Company, founded the business shortly after the First World War. He started with one Daimler limousine which he hired out as a chauffeur driven vehicle for weddings, funerals and other functions.
Harry’s younger brother, Len, joined him in 1925. The brothers acquired a blacksmith’s shop at Hadley Highstone and built their first garage upon the site. They took on agency for the Rootes car group, which consisted of Humber, Hillman and Sunbeam cars. The Rootes dealership and the car-hire business both did well, and additional property was bought with the intention of expanding the showroom and garage facilities.
Since the 1960s the company has been headed by Harry’s son, Douglas Green, who had taken over when his father passed away. Douglas’s ambitions tended toward the higher end of the market, and in 1962 Hadley Green purchased its first Rolls Royce, a one year old Silver Cloud II. To begin with the market at that level was less than lively, and that first Rolls took six months to sell. Nevertheless, persistence and determination meant that Hadley Green had sold nine used Rolls Royce and Bentley motor cars by the end of the year.
In 1963 Hadley Green sold 37 used Rolls Royce cars. Encouraged by this success, they applied to become Rolls Royce agents. Unfortunately the application was declined due to the proximity of an existing dealership in St Albans.
The following year, a spectacular 63 Rolls Royce and Bentley cars were sold, and Rolls Royce finally began to take some notice of Hadley Green’s growing success. In fact, Hadley Green were selling more Rolls Royce cars than many of the manufacturer’s official dealers. 1964 also saw the company sell its first new Bentley.
Performance speaks for itself, and in 1965 Hadley Green was appointed an official Rolls Royce and Bentley retailer – on the same day as the new Silver Shadow model was announced. Since then growth has continued. The emphasis has shifted away from economical family cars such as those produced by the Rootes group, and the focus is now clearly on the luxury and performance end of the market. The company has acquired additional property and showrooms, and now specialises in Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus and Land Rover vehicles.
Top quality cars and good personal number plates quite naturally go together, so it is equally natural to find that Douglas is a devotee of cherished car registrations. He kindly shared with us the stories behind some of the plates he has bought over the years. The following is one of the largest themed collections we have encountered. And we are grateful to Douglas Green for his commentary.