A limousine (/ˈlɪməzn/ or /lɪməˈzn/), or limo (/ˈlɪm/) for short,[1] is a large, chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle with a partition between the driver compartment and the passenger compartment which can be operated mechanically by hand or by a button electronically.[2] A luxury sedan with a very long wheelbase and driven by a professional driver is called a stretch limousine.[3]

1908 Studebaker limousine with an open driver's compartment
1953 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV (coachwork by Hooper)

In some countries, such as the United States, Germany, Canada, and Australia, a limousine service may be any pre-booked hire car with a driver, usually, but only sometimes a luxury car. In particular, airport shuttle services are often called "limousine services", though they often use minivans, light commercial vehicles, or MPVs.[2]

Etymology edit

The type of limousine hood or roof described in the text (1912 Vauxhall)

The word limousine is derived from the name of the French region Limousin; however, how the area's name was transferred to the car is uncertain.

One possibility involves a particular type of carriage hood or roof that physically resembled the raised hood of the cloak worn by the shepherds there.[4][5]

An alternate etymology speculates that some early chauffeurs wore a Limousin-style cloak in the open driver's compartment for protection from the weather.[6] The name was then extended to this particular type of car with a permanent top projecting over the chauffeur.[4] This former type of automobile had an enclosed passenger compartment seating three to five persons, with only a roof projecting forward over the open driver's area in the front.[7]

History edit

Wealthy owners of expensive carriages and their passengers were accustomed to their private compartments leaving their coachman or driver outside in all weathers. When automobiles arrived, the same people required a similar arrangement for their chauffeurs. As such, the 1916 definition of limousine by the US Society of Automobile Engineers is "a closed car seating three to five inside, with driver's seat outside".[8]

In Great Britain, the limousine de-ville was a version of the limousine town car where the driver's compartment was outside and had no weather protection.[9]: 103  The limousine-landaulet variant (also sold in the United States) had a removable or folding roof section over the rear passenger seat.[9]: 100 

In the United States, sub-categories of limousines in 1916 were the berline, defined as "a limousine having the driver's seat entirely enclosed", and the brougham, described as "a limousine with no roof over the driver's seat."[8]

U.S. limousine business declined in the 21st century due to the effects of the Great Recession, the subsequent rise of ride sharing apps, and an industry crisis precipitated by deadly stretch limousine crashes in 2015 and Schoharie, New York, in 2018. Moreover, during this time, people who would have once utilized limousines began opting to travel more discreetly in cars like black SUVs.[10]

Characteristics edit

The limousine body style usually has a partition separating the driver from the rear passenger compartment.[6][9] This partition usually includes an openable glass section so passengers may see the road. Communication with the driver is possible either by opening the partition window or using an intercom system.

Limousines are often long-wheelbase vehicles to provide extra legroom in the passenger compartment. There will usually be occasional seats (in the U.S. called jump seats) at the front of the compartment (either forward-facing, rear-facing, or able to face either direction).

Many nations have official state cars designed to transport government officials. The top leaders have dedicated and specially equipped limousines. The United States Presidential State Car is the official car of the President of the United States.

Stretch limousines edit

Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine

Stretch limousines are longer than regular limousines, usually to accommodate more passengers. Stretch limousines may have seating along the sides of the cabin.

A "stretch limousine" was created in Fort Smith, Arkansas, around 1928 by the Armbruster coach company. Their vehicles were primarily used to transport famous "big band" leaders, such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, and their members and equipment. These early stretch limousines were often called "big band buses". Armbruster called their lengthened cars "extended-wheelbase multi-door auto-coaches". Their 12-passenger coaches were used by hotels, taxis, airlines, corporations, and tour companies.[11] Knock-down programs by automakers made coachbuilders stretch vehicles, but Armbruster also custom built limousines using unibody construction such as the 1969 AMC Ambassadors.[12]

As of 2023, stretch limousines comprise one percent of U.S. limousine company offerings. That total was down from about ten percent in 2013.[10]

Novelty limousines edit

A variety of vehicles have been converted into novelty limousines.[13] They are used for weddings, parties, and other social occasions.[14] Another style of novelty limousine are those painted in bright colors, such as purple or pink.[15]

Vehicles converted into novelty stretch limousines include the East German Trabant, Volkswagen Beetle, Fiat Panda, and Citroën 2CV. There are instances of Corvettes, Ferraris, and Mini Coopers being stretched to accommodate up to 10 passengers.

United States edit

Lincoln Navigator stretch limousine

The last factory production limousine by Cadillac, with forward-facing jump seats, was in 1987 (with their Fleetwood Series 75 model), the last Packard in 1954, and the last Lincoln in 1939. However, Lincoln has sometimes offered limousines through their dealers as special order vehicles. Several Lincoln Premier cars were built, for example, one owned by Elvis Presley. Vehicles of this type in private use may contain expensive audio players, televisions, video players, and bars, often with refrigerators.

The President of the United States has ridden in a variety of brands of state cars starting from 1899 when President William McKinley first to ride in a car, a steam Locomobile.[16][17][18]

United Kingdom edit

Division in a 1993 Bentley Turbo R
The division in a London cab, black occasional seats folded up to bulkhead

Due to the partition behind the driver, the Hackney carriages are a type of limousine, although not typically identified as such in Britain. The occasional seats, also called "taxi-tip-seats," usually carry advertising on the underside; the advertisements are visible to the passengers when the tip-seats are not in use.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Garner, Bryan (July 28, 2009). Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199874620. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Definition of limousine". merriam-webster.com. October 28, 2019. Archived from the original on September 20, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  3. ^ "Definition of Stretch Limo". merriam-webster.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Dyke, Andrew Lee (1920). Dyke's Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia (Twelfth ed.). p. 582. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Ayto, John (2009). Word Origins. A&C Black Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4081-0160-5. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  6. ^ a b The Random House College Dictionary. Random House. 1975. p. 777. ISBN 0-394-43600-8. 1. an automobile having a permanently enclosed compartment for from three to five persons, the roof of which projects forward over the driver's seat in front...[< F, special use of limousine long cloak, so called because worn by the shepherds of Limousin, a former province in central France]
  7. ^ "Definition of limousine" (Complete & Unabridged Digital ed.). Collins English Dictionary. 2012. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "What's What in Automobile Bodies Officially Determined". The New York Times. August 20, 1916. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2015. Here it is, with other body types and distinctions, officially determined recently by the Nomenclature Division of the Society of Automobile Engineers
  9. ^ a b c Haajanen, Lennart W. (2003). Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 0-7864-1276-3. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Jiménez, Jesus (2023-04-28). "The Long Demise of the Stretch Limousine". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2023-04-30. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  11. ^ Theobald, Mark; DeWinter IV, Bernie (2004). "Armbruster & Company, Tom Armbruster, Ed Robben, Armbruster/Stageway, Fort Smith, Airport Limousine, Earnhart & Johansen". coachbuilt.com. Archived from the original on 26 March 2023. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  12. ^ Strohl, Daniel (23 September 2018). "1969 AMC Ambassador Limousine". Hemmings. Archived from the original on 28 December 2022. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  13. ^ "Dave's Classic Limousines Pictures: Novelty Limousines". Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  14. ^ Pedersen, Stephanie (2004). KISS guide to planning a wedding. DK Publishers. pp. 195–196. ISBN 978-0-7894-9695-9.
  15. ^ Naylor, Sharon (2004). 1000 Best Wedding Bargains. Sourcebooks. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-4022-0298-8. Retrieved June 27, 2015. novelty limousines.
  16. ^ Huffman, John Pearley (January 19, 2009). "The Top Presidential Limousines of All Time". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  17. ^ DeWitt, Nancy (September 4, 2012). "Presidential Wheels". Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  18. ^ "A Car Fit For A President". Grundy Insurance. February 25, 2017. Retrieved December 6, 2023.