The words “limousine” and “chauffeur” have been used since before the early stages of the 20th Century, when horse-drawn carriages and trains required uniformed professional drivers to man the horses and steam engines.
The word “limousine” originated from the Limousin region of France where shepherds use an over-sized, hooded garment to protect themselves from the cold weather. The drivers of automobiles later utilized such garments as they sat in the open and exposed front seats, while their bosses or the owner of the vehicle rode luxuriously in the rear seats.
There is a clear stylishness to the limousine and an air of mystery that surrounds the people behind the tinted windows. Ever since the golden age of automobiles in the early 1900s, people have been mesmerized by the elegant and, at times, daring designs of the limousines and town cars in which royalty, movie stars, and industry bigwigs are driven.
Early Beginnings Of The Stretch Limo
After the First World War, most of the world had their fill of the sedan chairs and hose-drawn carriages, then the stretch limousine came into the picture. The first “Stretch limousine” was created in Forth Smith, Arkansas in the United States in 1928 by a coach builder named Armbruster. The stretch limos were generally utilized to transport famous “big band” leaders, such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, and orchestras, as well as their musical instruments and other equipment, across the country. As a result, the early stretch cars were called “big band buses”.
In 1962, Armbruster fused with Stageway Coaches of Cincinnati in Ohio, USA, and became Armbruster-Stageway Coachbuilders, and in 1974, the first six-door funeral limousines were built on Cadillac chassis. Eventually, the product line of Lincoln Stretch limousines was included due to the growing popularity of Lincoln within the limousine and funeral service realm, however the main mission statement for the cars and the company was simply “to move people from place to place, only in larger cars”.
The advent of the 60s and 70s made limousines more popular, as they were increasingly used for general use by American presidents and movie stars, and due to their increasing popularity, more custom coachbuilders began trading. In the late 80s, Federal Coach bought out Armbruster-Stageway, although the tradition that began nearly eighty years ago still remains.
The Wisdom Behind The Stretch limousineThe wisdom behind the creation of the stretch limo boils down to creating a unique design. Generally, stretch limousines are used to transport more than three passengers, excluding the driver. These limousine types may contain extra amenities such as expensive audio players, flat-screen television sets, video players, and bars, often with refrigerators.
There are occasions when a coach builder or car designer would develop the “ultimate” stretch limo, by adding more amenities that are somehow impractical, but would definitely make a significant design statement. One unique design includes using double rear axles to support the weight of an operational hot tub. Most coach builders can perform aftermarket extensions on luxury sedans and SUVs.
These extensive, and often expensive, limousine conversions have been performed on several luxury vehicles, namely Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Holden, Hummer, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls-Royce. In the United States and Canada, the most popular and commonly used vehicles for stretch limousine conversions are the Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac DTS, Hummer H2, and the Lincoln Navigator. Sometimes, even the common Corvette and VW Bug could be stretched to accommodate up to 10 passengers.