Today hardly any party or wedding would be complete without the limousine rental. These days there are more than 130,000 limousines being used for limousine rental all over the United States, and two types of limousine rental operators. There are whole fleets that provide limousine service, and then there are small companies that provide private car service, including limousine rental. A limo company can count on about 40% of its service being for some of our most important events: prom night, weddings, and important parties. But how did the limousine become the last word in luxury? Understanding the origins of both the limousine itself and the name tell us why.
- A French history. One of the regions of France is called Limousin, and it is apparently from this region that we derive our word for this luxurious form of transportation. No one is quite sure how the name moved from the region to the vehicle, but at least one theory runs that shepherds from this region of France were famous for their long cloaks which protected them from the rain. Why would this have anything to do with the car?
- The first limousines. Long ago, horse-carriages drawn were covered in order to protect passengers from the rain. In those days, people with wealth would not be caught dead driving themselves anywhere. Driving was a task for a servant to perform, and men were specially hired to drive coaches and carriages. This habit rolled over into the first automobile use, and wealthy automobile owners hired drivers to take them around. The first automobile limousine was distinct because it had a special closed and covered compartment for the passengers while the driver’s seat was outside. The theory runs that the look of the vehicle and the covering against the rain was reminiscent of the cloaks of those shepherds who lived in the Limousin area of France. The first automobile limousine was built in 1902, and by 1916 could be defined officially as “a closed car seating three to five inside, with driver’s seat outside.” The first limousines that really looked like what we think of when we get a limousine rental these days were actually made for the purpose of transporting big bands. The band, their leader, and all their equipment would fit into these big band buses and were instantly recognizable as they traveled across the country.
- Peer pressure and fads. Because these long big band buses were associated with transporting musicians, and later actors as well, they began to be associated with wealth and fashion. After a while, you really were not part of the true elite if you had never ridden in a stretch limousine. Limousine use grew more and more popular, and the six door limousine was invented. Although these very large limousines were originally made for transporting the bodies of the dead to a funeral, they got picked up by Hollywood celebrities and others who wanted to demonstrate their personal wealth, popularity, and importance. This is how the limousine became so tightly associated with sophistication, class, and style.
- Modern limousine innovations. The wealthy still use them as means of getting around, but today the rise of the car hire company has made it possible for everyone to experience a limousine rental if they would like. New technology means that limousines these days are capable of holding far more people than the earlier versions, and special designs are available, especially for those looking for limousine rental. Some of the unusual types of limousine you can find among limousine rentals include limousines with Jacuzzis included, stretch limousines, the tank limousine, and even the stretch Hummer limousine.
The limousine and other car hire services industry currently has an annual revenue of $6 billion, and limo drivers take an average of 105 trips every week. We still see the limousine as the epitome of class and style, and so long as there are around we will keep using them for our most important events.