A stretch limo is a limousine with an extended chassis. The chassis is the framework of the car which contains the engine, suspension, transmission, and driveshaft. In some cases the chassis modifications are done by the manufacturer and other times an independent coach-builder may alter the vehicle. These luxurious and impressive looking vehicles have historically been produced only in black or white, however custom stretch limos have been made in a variety of styles and colors over the years. Recently the pink Hummer stretch limo has become a popular choice for bachelorette parties.
The first stretch limo was manufactured by the Armbruster company in Fort Smith, Arkansas around the year 1928. Stretch limousines were initially used as a way to transport famous “Big Band” leaders such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. The extended chassis afforded ample space to comfortably accommodate the band leaders, band members and their equipment and earned the first stretch limousines the commonly used name “big band buses.”
Stretch limos today feature separate front and rear compartments. The primary purpose of this division is to ensure 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.
Seating configurations in modern stretch limos differ from those of regular style limousines. It is very rare to find jump-seats in the stretch limos popular with today’s consumers. These vehicles are typically designed for the comfortable transportation of six to ten passengers. Models, sometimes referred to as super stretch limos, can seat upwards of 20 passengers.
There are many makes and models of stretch limos and typical features include mirrored seating, attractive lighting, plasma screen televisions, and full bar service including refrigerator space. There are even stretch limos equipped with tandem rear axles to support operational hot tubs. The most common types of vehicles converted to stretch limousine specifications in the United States include the Lincoln Town Car and Lincoln Navigator, a variety of Cadillac models including the Escalade SUV, Chrysler 300C, Hummer H2, and the Ford Excursion. In some cases luxury cars such as Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar are converted into the ultimate luxury stretch limos.
Sometimes car designers will convert a vehicle into a stretch limo with the intention of making a bold design statement rather than mass marketing them for limo rental services. Examples of this include the modification of vehicles including Corvettes, Ferraris, Mini Coopers and the Volkswagen Beetle.
While some stretch limousines, especially higher end and exotic models are owned privately owned, the vast majority are manufactured for limousine service providers. Owned and operated by limousine rental companies, they are used exclusively to provide chauffeured car services. Stretch limo rental is most often arranged for special events such as weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, funerals, bar/bat mitzvah, sweet 16 and Quinceañera parties, and graduation festivities.
A special kind of stretch limo, the party bus, is able to carry anywhere from 10 to 50 passengers. The amount of passengers the party bus can accommodate varies greatly depending on the type of vehicle it is based on. Party buses are often made by modifying a conventional bus or coach, however they can also be created from a van or minibus chassis These large coaches, also known as limousine buses, party vans, or luxury buses are typically designed specifically for day trips and events. The most common reasons that people rent a party bus are for weddings, proms, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. The party bus has become popular in situations when a stretch limo is not large enough to accommodate the entire group. In some cases this type of transport is used for extended group travel and tours as well.