Luxurious Limousines: The Humble Beginnings

For most, the word limousine conjures up thoughts of long sleek vehicles with room to groove, champagne pouring, three piece suits and formal gowns.

Celebrities, red carpets, the flashing bulbs of paparazzi cameras, all eyes on you. Driving with the top open, reaching to the sky, wind blowing through your hair as you cruise through big city lights.


Alas, the luxurious limousine, had much humbler beginnings. In fact, the word limousine simply refers to a luxury sedan.


Origin of the Limo

The word limousine originated from the French region limousin, where the shepherds wore cloaks with raised hood. In 1902 a vehicle with a closed passenger compartment and roofed driver partition was designed.

The new vehicle bore a resemblance to the traditional shepherd’s attire and so the vehicle was christened Limousine.

history of a limo

Some fourteen years later, in 1916, The Society of Automobile Engineers officially defined a limousine as “a closed car seating three to five inside, with driver’s seat outside”. While, in some countries, such as Germany, the word limousine simply refers to a sedan.


For most, the word limousine encompasses an array of body styles. However, technically speaking each body style has its own name. There is the Berline which is a limousine defined as having and entirely enclosed driver’s seat. Whereas a limousine with no roof over the driver’s seat is a Brougham


1899 – A Modern Tradition

It is understood that the President of the United States began travelling in limousines as far back as 1899. Despite boiling down to a simple sedan, the limousine has always been entrenched in a culture of conspicuous consumption. Thus making them the most expensive mode of ground travel.

history of limo hire - american limo

Because of the partitioned design and often exaggerated body length the limousine has primarily been used to transport the rich, famous, and important. There is a long history of Government officials using private limousines. Similarly, the extra room of the larger bodied vehicle lent its self to transportation the big bands of the 1930’s.

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Nevertheless, the concept of a chauffeur driven vehicle existed long before the limousine. The rich, famous and royal have been chauffeured around since the days of horses and carts. Thu the notional of the traditional limousine is rather more of an ode to history passed than a new concept.


In more modern times, the use of limousines has been taking up by the middle class. Seen as a means of transport for rare and significant events such as weddings.



1920’s The “Stretch” Limousine

It was in the 1920’s that the first “stretch” limousine was manufactured in Arkansas, by Cadillac.

stretch limousine - limo hire

This is the vehicle that typical springs to mind hearing the word ‘limousine’. It is the obnoxiously long vehicles celebrities arrive at awards nights. While their notion of a chauffeur driven vehicle aligns with the tradition of the limousine, the vehicle its self is a novelty off spin of the original sedan.



Today’s Exotic Limousines

Exotic limousines are the love child of the rich, famous and excessive. Many superstars who owned their own limousine began to deck-out the interiors with mini-bars, fridges, and T.V.s. It is now not uncommon for a modern “stretch” limousine to have one of more of these amendments.

limo hire - modern luxury limousine

Manufacturers have been pushing boundaries to create the bus-limousine, the Hummer limousine and even modified the axles to support a functioning hot-tub. Car manufacturers from BMW, Bentley and Chrysler, to Rolls-Royce and Jaguar have made their own rendition of the exotic stretch limousine.


The team at Event limousines aren’t dazzled and dazed by the novelty limousines. They are here to bring you a premium service in luxury vehicle. Travel in style and comfort in one of our many fleet vehicles that are an ode to tradition. Get in contact today for your next special event, or airport pick-up.