Why Limousines are Popular: An Expert's Perspective

Discover why stretched limos have been popular for decades among celebrities and regular people alike. Learn about their history and how they've evolved over time.

Why Limousines are Popular: An Expert's Perspective

There was a time when the rich and famous traveled almost exclusively in stretched limousines. Limousines came to the rest of us through rentals, offering a luxurious way to travel for special occasions such as proms, weddings, elegant dinners, long trips to the airport, or sporting events. Limousines have been featured in movies and magazines, and people have posed for photos with them. The kids, including me, would go crazy if they played with all that stuff.

In the 1930s, limousines really started to take off. They were used to transport hotel guests from the airport to the hotel and also on different tourist routes. This is how the name “Airporter Stretch Coach” was born. The film industry quickly joined in, using limousines to take the film crew and stage crew around the film sets.

During that time, limousines also became a common accessory for film actors and actresses. You weren't considered “that” unless you arrived in a limousine. Just as Blockbuster, Sears and MySpace fell into the hands of disruptors, limousines also succumbed to bigger ideas. A luxury sedan with a very long wheelbase (with more than four doors) driven by a professional driver is called an elastic limousine.

As such, the 1916 definition of a limousine from the Society of Automotive Engineers of the United States is an enclosed car with three to five seats inside and the driver's seat outside. In German-speaking countries, a limousine is simply a sedan, while a car with a longer wheelbase is called a Pullman Limousine. In the United States, the limousine subcategories in 1916 were the Berliner, defined as a limousine with the driver's seat fully closed, and the Brougham, defined as a limousine without a roof above the driver's seat. Around 1928, a coach company called Armbruster created an elastic limousine in Fort Smith, Arkansas. An alternative etymology speculates that some of the first drivers wore a limousine-style cape in the driver's open compartment, to protect themselves from inclement weather.

Today, limousines are still used to transport the rich and famous, but they are also designed to transport much larger numbers of people. Like the convenience of modern SUVs, it's easier for us to pick up a luxury car than to search, compare and book a limousine service. Operating a limousine business is now nearly impossible in New York, according to senior officials at Limousine, Bus & Taxi Operators of Upstate New York, a limousine industry trade group. Elegant and stealthy like a shark drifting among a school of fish, a limousine traveled silently down the street, with the windows tinted black and the decorative lights on. In some countries such as the United States, Germany, Canada and Australia, a limousine service can consist of any pre-booked rental vehicle with driver - usually but not always - a luxury car. The last production limousine from Cadillac with forward-facing folding seats was in 1987 (with its Fleetwood Series 75 model), while Packard's last model was in 1954 and Lincoln's last model was in 1939 - although Lincoln has offered limousines through its dealers as special-order vehicles on occasion. After the reaction of the limousine industry as well as funeral homes that use heasses that can be considered elastic limousines, Cuomo abandoned his idea.

In particular airport shuttle services are often referred to as limousine services although they often use minibuses.

Jim Harris
Jim Harris

Passionate web evangelist. Total bacon evangelist. General bacon lover. Amateur web aficionado. Subtly charming travel practitioner.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *