History of Limousines

A limousine can be any variety of luxury sedan vehicle. The term most often applies to cars with a lengthened wheelbase, which refers to space between the centers of the front and rear wheels. These vehicles are almost exclusively driven by a chauffeur. The term stretch limo refers to luxury vehicles which have been further extended by modifying and lengthening the chassis, or framework which contains the vehicle’s “running gear” such as the transmission, driveshaft, suspension and engine. To read more about stretch limos click here. Limousine travel is the most expensive option when arranging for professional transportation and is commonly associated with images of success, wealth, luxury and power. The status and comfort that limousines provide makes them a popular choice for special event transportation. Today, limo rental services are commonly arranged for weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, funerals, sweet 16 and Quinceañera parties, and graduation festivities.

The first limousine was built in 1902 and required the chauffeur to sit outside underneath a covered compartment. This covered section is responsible for the name given to the vehicles, although the exact etymology is uncertain. Attribution for the term limousine can be assigned to the styling of the chauffeurs’ covered compartment as it resembled the cloaks worn by shepherds in the Limousin region of France. Other sources suggest that, for purposes of protecting themselves from the elements, the drivers of the original limousines wore hooded cloaks reminiscent of those common in the Limousin region of France.

Limo drivers and car chauffeurs today can enjoy more weatherproof accommodations while transporting clients, although limousines are still designed with separate front and rear compartments. The primary purpose of this division is to ensure the privacy and comfort of the limousine passengers. Sliding tinted window panels or intercom systems are in place for times when it is necessary for chauffeur and passengers to communicate.

The limousines our Presidents use are very interesting.  They are specially made with extreme and unusual features.  Some are for comfort, most for safety. Here is an interesting article about Presidential limousines, almost all of which are stretch style limos.

In traditional limousines, as well as in the famous Black Cabs of London, the drivers section can accommodate two passengers along with the chauffeur. The back section of the limo contains the regular forward facing seat but the lengthened wheelbase means this seat is further back from the front seat than in a normal car. This additional space provides comfortable leg room for rear passengers and allows for installation of two jump-seats which are usually mounted against the front compartment and face the rear of the vehicle. In total, seven passengers plus the driver can comfortably ride in a traditional style limo. The jump-seats can be folded up when not in use to provide even more room in the back compartment of the limo.

In modern limousines it is less common to find rear facing jump-seats. American limousine designs vary greatly by car make and model, and in most cases jump-seats are not part of the design. More design emphasis has been placed on the creation of stretch limos to accommodate larger groups desiring chauffeured car services. This trend has been driven by consumer demand as well as by the fact that it can be difficult to fully determine the effects of altering a load-bearing unitized platform. Consequently modifying and altering a separate chassis is a more attractive, sound, and desirable prospect for limousine manufacturers.

In today’s vernacular the term limousine can be used to refer to any car owned and operated by a limo rental or chauffeured car service provider. While the use of stretch limos is typically reserved for special events, limo rental companies are also offering airport limo service (often in Lincoln Town Car sedan limos) as well as shared transportation for commonly traveled routes and even one-way, about-town trips which often end up being comparable in cost to hiring a taxi-cab driver on-the-spot. In this way the services of limo rental companies have become increasingly accessible to a wide range of consumers.