10 Limousine Fun Facts: What You Didn’t Know

Last time I called shotgun we had rented a limo, so I messed up!

— Mitch Hedberg

So, you think you know all about riding in a limousine? Well, think again!

Here are Ten Fun Facts about everyone’s favorite luxury car.

What’s In A Name?

What “limousine” actually means.

Today, the term refers to a luxury vehicle used to transport VIPs or rented out for special occasions.

However, the origins of the word may surprise you.

  • It comes from the Limousin region of France, where shepherds once wore a particular style of cloak.
  • On the early 1900s limo, the roof closely resembled the shepherds’ hoods.

You may not have realized how much debate surrounds the question of what counts as the “first” limo car. There is actually a history of firsts when it comes to narrowing down what types of luxury vehicles are technically limos.

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History Untold

First of all, the rise of the limo service was not the beginning of the chauffeur.

As far back as the 1700s, wealthy persons enjoyed the comforts of the chauffeur service. Back then they weren’t really called chauffeurs yet.

  • The idea of luxury ground transportation involved a horse-drawn carriage, which was often decorated with gold and pulled by the finest steeds.

Flash-forward to the twentieth century where we see what is typically considered the first limo car in 1902.

  • This was a steam-powered automobile that required the driver to sit in a compartment separate from his passengers and “stoke” the engine.
  • This is around the time that the name chauffeur—which literally translates to “stoker”—took off.

Something more closely resembling the modern version came about in 1928.

  • The Armbruster company created a type of limo bus that became famous for transporting big band musicians, like Glenn Miller.
  • This vehicle was dubbed the “Big Band Bus.

In the 1930s, airport limo service was born with the introduction of the Airporter Stretch Coach.

  • This was the introduction of the stretch limousine as a method of luxury travel.
  • Hollywood caught on and soon after the limousine became the new “it” accessory.

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Not Your Average Limousine

You won’t see anything like this at your local limousine company. These vehicles aren’t made for everyday transportation.

The world’s longest car is a 100-foot-long limo known as the name, “The American Dream.”

  • Burbank, California’s Jay Ohrberg designed the car, based on a 1970s Cadillac El Dorado.
  • This enormous luxury car is hinged in the middle and has 26 wheels.
  • It also features multiple “rooms,” a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, helipad, and even a water bed!

The title of heaviest limousine goes to the 50,560 lb, “Midnight Rider.”

  • Designed by Californians Pamela Bartholomew and Michael Machado, this enormous vehicle measures 70 feet long and nearly 14 feet high.
    • It is so big that it has to be pulled by a semi-truck.
  • Midnight Rider’s three lounges and bar can carry up to 40 passengers and its five-person crew.
    • Due to its size, the décor has a little more than what you might expect inside a limo.
      • The interior is based on the luxurious mid-1800s Pullman railroad cars.

The world’s longest monster truck began life as a limousine!

  • Brad and Jen Campbell designed the truck to bring the experience of riding in something as close to a professional monster truck to as many people as possible.
  • They took an actual limo body, gutted it, then custom-built it a new frame and roll-cage.

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A Luxury Car of Presidential Proportions

The president doesn’t take just any old car, whether for personal or business travel.

Forget the something old and something new. John F. Kennedy went straight for the something blue with his presidential car.

JFK’s limo was a little different than what you’ll see the President riding in these days.

  • His was a midnight blue 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible, known by the code name, “X-100.”

The car was stretched an extra three and a half feet from the mass-market model and included top-of-the-line features.

For 1961, That Meant Things Like:

  1. Hydraulic seats (that raised over ten inches).
  2. Radiotelephones.
  3. Suped-up heating and air conditioner unit.

After JFK’s assassination, the car stayed in service but underwent some major modifications to improve safety.

  • It got a permanent (non-convertible) top and new armoring.
  • Nowadays, presidential limos since have been outfitted with bulletproof plating.

JFK’s limo is currently housed at The Henry Ford, a museum in Dearborn, MI.

  • It is on display in the Presidential Vehicles exhibit.

The Beast

Truly a one-of-a-kind luxury car, the U.S. presidential vehicle is known as The Beast.

  • This vehicle is unlike any other Cadillac because it is a mash-up of several models.
  • Plus, there some added features not available to the mass-market.
    • The Beast has Escalade headlights and STS tail lights.
    • Its bulletproof windows are almost half a foot thick and darker than night.

Calling this an “armored car” is an understatement. The Beast is more like a tank, with ultra-thick armored plating on its body and with doors as heavy as a Boeing 757’s.

Limousine service has been used by celebrities as a status symbol, VIPs for protection, and attendees of special occasions to arrive in style. Those interested in professional chauffeur service, everyone can agree that a limousine is synonymous with luxury.

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Written By: Amber M. Smith 

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