Who thought of them first?
Although it's difficult to imagine, they come from the original idea of chauffeured vehicles which goes way back to France in the 1700’s. They were first conceived as horse drawn carriages for the rich and wealthy and no doubt looked like something out of a costume drama. It was clear that no expense was spared in their design as they were often decorated with gold, pulled by only the finest horses and clearly seen as one of the great status symbols in their day. The actual word "limos" is short for limousines which is the feminine adjective formed from the word Limoges, the region in France where they first appeared. The one thing that made limousines stand out from other vehicles (or in this case carriages) at that time was that the driver was in an entirely separate compartment from his clientele.
The first automobile limos appeared in 1902 where the chauffeur sat outside under a covered compartment just as they had done in the original limousines. These compartments actually looked similar to the cloak hoods worn by people in Limoges itself. However, the word limousines really means two different things today, depending on which country you're in. In most parts of the world large luxury saloon cars are considered to be limousines, certainly marques such as Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes and Rolls Royce. And in some ways that's no bad thing because when you think of limousines you can often think of those grand motor cars of the past such as the Cadillacs of the '30's and Rolls Royces of the 60's right through to the Bentleys and Maybachs of today. In the United States and subsequently Britain, however, things are a lot different where the word limousines invariably refers to the stretched type. This is because stretch limousines have been cruising around our streets for so long that they have almost become part of the landscape!
As you can imagine the first actual stretch limousine was put together in the USA, but not many people would have guessed that it was over over eighty years ago. That was in Arkansas around 1928. The first LIMOS were known as “big band buses” because they mainly carried the famous big band leaders and their crews around the United States. Then in the 1930’s limos became really popular, transporting top hotel guests to and from the airport, and also on a variety of sightseeing tours. This is where the name “Airporter Stretch Coach” comes from. The growing trend soon caught the eye of the movie industry where LIMOS were perfect for transporting film crews and stage personnel around the movie sets. But, critically, they were regarded as an absolute essential by the top movie stars who insisted on making grand entrances wherever they went. This is one of the main reasons why they retain the glamorous image that they clearly do some eighty years on.
The next major development came some years later with the introduction of the six-door limos. These were widely used as funeral cars and were built on Cadillac Chasis’. As time went on they became increasingly popular and more commonplace, taking everyone from movie stars and famous sportsmen to the President of the United States wherever they needed. Today they are still employed to chauffeur the rich and famous, particularly to grand occasions such as movie premieres and film awards or to the great casinos all over the USA. But now that they are built to carry larger numbers of people they are more accessible to everybody. So now you'll see everything from Hummer limo hire right through to fire engine limo hire.
Improving automotive technology coupled with exciting developments in fibre optics and audio visual design has all contributed to the rapid rise in the number of “new style” limos being produced today. Not only will you see everything from stretched Lincoln Town Cars and "Baby Bentley" Chrysler 300's through to the larger 4x4 stretches such as the Audi Q7's and Hummers but you can also experience all sorts of sensations from the exciting interiors on offer today. They're perfect for taking large numbers of people around to every conceivable event you could think of. Pink limos have become really popular as prom limos, but also for weddings and birthdays. And there are plenty of other special occasions which are ideal such as Royal Ascot, Christmas parties and corporate days where black limo hire is a real favourite. If you happen to be in any of the major cities in the UK at the weekend you can't fail to see these impressive machines cruising around, full of happy people on stag nights, hen nights and party nights, often with a glass of Champagne in their hand. This is certainly a sight to behold and brings a smile to most people's faces. The best thing about it is that today's modern examples are all about fun for everybody - not just the rich and famous.
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