When you think of limousines you may only imagine the super-rich and famous riding around Hollywood. But you might also think where did the limousine begin? You may be surprised to find out that some form of chauffeured transportation has existed since the 1700’s. We have put together a timeline of the transformation of the limo from the horse drawn carriage to the stretch limousine you know today.
The First Limo
The very first form of a limo was a chauffeured carriage that was decorated in gold and drawn by the best of horses available. At the earliest time of horse drawn carriage rides in the 1700’s the body of the carriage was open subjecting both the driver and the passengers to the weather. The custom began in the small-town Limoges in the Limousin region of France with both the driver and the passengers using over-sized hooded garments to cover themselves and protect them from the weather. Because of the extravagant cost of owning your own personal chauffeur, horses, and a carriage at the time, the use of a limousine was associated with wealth and privilege from the very beginning.
The First Automobile Limousine
When the first engine powered automobile was invented in 1886, it didn’t take long for people to figure out a way to incorporate it into a limousine. The first modern automobile limousine was created shortly after in 1902, creating an outside compartment for the driver to sit in giving the passengers more privacy. Because the drivers were still seated outside the enclosed compartment of the vehicle they were still subjected to the elements of the weather, so they continued to wear hooded cloaks to protect them. The word “limousine” was officially defined by the Society of Automobile Engineers in 1916 as an enclosed vehicle able to sit three to five people inside with the driver’s seat outside of the enclosed compartment.
Stretching The Limousine
Once the automobile limousine was created there wasn’t much that set it apart from other automobile vehicles of the time other than the outside compartment for the driver separating them from the passengers. That changed in 1928 when the company Armbruster in Arkansas decided to stretch a vehicle to make travel for big bands and all their equipment easier. And thus, the stretch limousine was born, although at this time they were commonly referred to as “big band buses”. The “King of Swing”, Benny Goodman, was the first to use one of these big band buses to arrive to one of his concerts, and soon the frenzy caught on. From there on, the stretch limousine was used to transport famous big bands like Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller and their entourages.
The Use Of Limousines Expands
Beginning around the 1930’s, stretch limousines started to be used both to mark the debut of a Hollywood superstar and to provide airport shuttle transportation between the airport and hotel and on sightseeing tours. In Hollywood showing up to an event in a stretch limo with a chauffeured driver officially set the mark that you had “made it.” This is where the business of offering limousine services to rent is born when James P. Carey renovates a New York City cab company into a wildly successful luxury limousine rental service.
The Super Stretch Limousine
Between the 1960’s and 1970’s coachbuilders continue to stretch the limousine further and further with President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Continental being stretched out 33 inches. But leave it to Cadillac to find a way to make the biggest thing in transportation bigger and better still. In 1974 Armbruster-Stageway Coachbuilders partners with Cadillac to build the first six-door modern super stretch limousine on Cadillac chasses. These super stretch limousines became the new standard for transportation for funeral cars, security transportation, presidents, corporate leaders, and movie stars.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s limousines continued to get larger and continued to offer more through added luxury amenities that have now become the standard such as audio, video, special lighting, and phones. Today limousines can be completely customized with the owner’s mind being one of the few limitations to what can be done. Technology now allows for any vehicle chassis to be stretched and used to build a limousine and added amenities can include reclining seats, dance poles, televisions, light up floors, hot tubs, and so much more. As technology continues to grow and expand no doubt the amenities and luxury available with limousines will continue to grow as well.
Today limousines are still used by the rich and famous as a symbol of wealth and status, but they have also become more affordable making it possible for more people to rent the services of a limousine for special events such as weddings, proms, graduations, business, sight seeing tours, birthday parties, and more.
If you are looking for a professional and reliable limousine company, you can count on for your next special event contact Affari Transportation today! We will help you determine your unique transportation plan and make sure all your needs are met. Our experienced and professional drivers go through extensive background checks and have a perfect record with no complaints. We look forward to providing you with your transportation needs for your next special event!