You might be surprised, but limousine as a concept dates back well before the invention of motorized automobiles. Even during the era of horse-and-carriages, wealthy people enjoyed transportation with personal coachman.
Throughout the centuries, chauffeurs ferried rich people around in a separate cabin, hidden from public sight. Therefore, limousine doesn’t refer to a type of car but is a rather generic term. Accordingly, limousines are distinguished by a glass partition that separates the driver’s seat from the passenger compartment. They are also luxurious and stylish.
Private vehicles with personal chauffeurs were especially popular in Europe. In fact, the term ‘limousine’ supposedly originates from the word Limousin, which is the name of a province in France. This region lies in the foot of the Massif Central, an area with long and cold winters, and a lot of snowy days.
In the region, shepherding was the main occupation. To protect themselves from harsh weather, the shepherds wore cloaks with large hoods. The covered compartment of the first automobiles looked like a raised hood of the cloak that shepherds of the Limousin region wore. This how the word ‘limousine’ got its today’s meaning.
Although taxi also comes with a driver, it is easy to distinguish it from a limousine. Limousine is a luxury car that often has special amenities and comes in different sizes.
The limousine can be a town car, a sedan, a mini SUV, an SUV, a flex fuel, a hybrid, or a stretch limousine. Even vans and party buses count as limousines when provided by a limo company and coming equipped with gadgets and a professional chauffeur.
The two types of limousines most commonly used are the regular and stretch limousine. Read further to find out how to differentiate the two.
Difference between stretch limo and a regular limo
As we stated above, there are many different types of limousines. Their differences lie in the size, purpose, number of passengers they can accommodate, their colours, amenities, occasions they are most suitable for, personal preferences of passengers, and similar.
It is the same with regular limos and stretch limos. They differ in the following characteristics:
- The size and number of passengers,
When you mention a limousine, people usually think of a luxury sedan or saloon car, since it is the most common.
The word ‘sedan’ roots from the Latin word ‘sedes/sedere’ which means “to sit”. Italian word ‘sede’ means ‘chair’, or – to be more precise – a ‘covered chair on poles’, something like an enclosed litter. So that is how in the early 1600s we got the Italian word sedan.
A standard sedan limousine can fit three people comfortably. They are mostly used by business people for transporting clients and executives.
Sedan is also perfect for indiscreet transportation, as they can easily blend into traffic and not draw much attention. Though smaller than stretch limos, regular limos are still very comfortable, have got a lot of legroom, and provide a large trunk for optimum storing capacity.
Although not equally equipped, sedans provide the feeling of driving in a very luxurious car. However, newer models also come with modern amenities such as heated rear seats, remotely controlled air conditioning, a stereo, adjustable rear head restraints, and similar. Security features such as armouring and bulletproof glass are also available.
The regular limo, either sedan or town car, is a classy, old-school and sophisticated vehicle, which makes it the king of all the limousines.
So, what is a stretch limo anyway?
Stretch limousines are actually extended versions of a large sedan. To portray it, the chassis of the limousine has been extended, i.e. it has got lengthened wheelbase.
A typical stretch limo is about 10 meters long, with a 3-meters-long stretch. By Guinness World Record, the longest limo in the world ever built was 30 meters long. It had impressive 72 seats, 26 wheels and even a helicopter landing pad and was named the “American Dream”.
Stretch limos usually can accommodate up to six people comfortably. But, there are some types of stretch limos today that classify as the six-pack, the eight-pack and the ten-pack. However, it doesn’t mean that they accommodate that many people comfortably, but rather one or two passengers less.
Stretch limos are therefore perfect for transportation of a group of friends, a family or several business associates. They come in various colors and models and they are used for a variety of occasions.
Stretch limousines tend to be romantic, which is why they are mostly used for weddings. They are considered elegant and stylish and are associated with high-class events.
From amenities, they are equipped with TV screens, tinted windows, stereo system, fiber optic lighting, full beverage refrigerator, and even hot tubs. How thoughtful, isn’t it?
Interesting fun facts
a) There are super stretch limos that can seat up to 14 people. Some models can even seat up to 20. These cars are very large and come in many different models: Lincoln Town Cars, Hummers, Deville’s, Escalades, Excursions, and Party Buses. They come in various colors, but the most popular is – believe it or not – pink! They are excellent for birthday or bachelor/bachelorette parties because they allow you and your friends to travel together.
Super stretch limos are fully equipped with modern technology gadgets and other commodities, like a dance floor, so the fun and entertainment are guaranteed. Because of their length, it is not easy to get in and out of super-stretch limo, so many come with side rear doors now. For easier access, many companies have started building super stretch limousines with five doors. Because of their length, it is difficult to maneuver these vehicles, so their chauffeurs must be highly experienced and properly licensed.
b) Limousines are usually owned by governments to transport statesmen and politicians, by large companies to transport executives and clients, by broadcasters to transport their guests, and some are owned by individuals.
However, stretch limousines are rarely owned by private individuals. Most manufacturers of stretch limousines are located in Europe and the United States and supply mainly limousine companies. Stretch limos require a lot of space on the road and drop-off/pickup space for these cars is a challenge compared to regular sedans.
Public roads are crowded and there is a problem with parking as well. All over the world, most parking lots are only fit for regular passenger cars. Roadside parking is mostly forbidden, too. The only place to park such large vehicles would be in an area foreseen for parking of heavy vehicles, along with buses and trucks. So much about class and luxury, huh?
c) Be cautious! Despite the overall safety of limos, the industry remains largely unregulated. And stretch limousines are less safe, especially those that are converted. Missing protections include side-impact airbags, accessible emergency exits, and reinforced rollover protection bars. Additionally, due to the lack of regulations, driver qualifications may not be scrutinized.
With such large vehicles, making a U-turn is quite problematic and challenging. This applies to so-to-tell Franken-creations. However, factory-built stretch limos are required to meet strict safety regulations and serious companies hire drivers only after they pass full background check and training.
Our aim was not to scare you with some of these facts but to warn you to inquire about all the safety features of the limousine you are about to rent so that you can relax and enjoy your ride.