Who can forget Richard Gere standing through the sunroof of his limo holding flowers in Pretty Woman, or the stretch SUV in What Happens in Vegas? Limousines are an iconic part of pop culture, and have become something of novelty in the last few decades.
Chances are you’ve enjoyed sipping on champagne from the inbuilt bar, surround sound, and chauffeur service when you rent a limo. But, have you ever wondered about the legacy behind the limousine? Read on to discover the history behind this classy car.
Did you know the first ‘limousines’ weren’t even motor cars, but horse-drawn carriages? Way back in the 1700’s wealthy families used to be chauffeured in luxurious carriages. These carriages afforded privacy and were said to resemble a hooded coat reminiscent of what the locals used to wear in the French region of Limousin.
Apart from the difference in appearance, and source of energy, a limousine wasn’t exactly a type, as much as it was a mode of transportation in which the rider was hidden from sight and separated from the driver.
When motorized automobiles came into the picture, the private compartment for passengers remained the defining feature. In 1916, the definition of limousine by the US Society of Automobile Engineers is “a closed car seating three to five inside, with driver’s seat outside”.
In the roaring twenties stretch limousines finally rolled up to the scene, although they weren’t the luxury vehicles you imagine today. In 1928 a coach company named Armbruster created stretch limos to transport big band leaders. They needed an automobile large enough to carry the band leaders, their members, and of course, all the equipment needed to put on a show!
These 12 passenger vehicles were initially called “extended-wheelbase multi-door auto-coaches” by Armbruster, not quite the same ring as a stretch limo. They soon became popular with hotels, taxis, airlines, corporations and tour companies.
When the 30’s arrived, famous actors and actresses used limousines to get to shoot locations, along with their film equipment and crew. Using a limo began to be seen as a status symbol for the rich and the famous.
Nowadays limos are seen as a classy way to get from A to B and range from the classic Lincoln models to SUV stretch limos. From getting to prom, to booking a wedding limo, or a night out on the town renting a limo is a novelty everyone should try at least once.
Want to step out in style? Contact our transportation concierge to help you book a limo for your next special occasion!