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 the 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.
Private vehicles with personal chauffeurs were especially popular in Europe. In fact, the term ‘limousine’ supposedly originates from the Limousin, a province in France. It lies in the foot of the Massif Central, an area with long and cold winters, and a lot of snowy days.
The main occupation in the region was shepherding. 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 shepherds of the Limousin region wore, thus bringing the word ‘limousine’ to its today 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 a professional chauffeur.
The two types of limousines most commonly used are regular and stretch limousines. Read further to find out how to differentiate the two.
Difference between stretch limo and regular limo
As we stated above, there are many different types of limousines. Their differences lie in the size, purpose, number of passengers, colour, amenities, occasions, personal preferences of passengers, and similar.
The same is with regular limos and stretch limos. They differ in the following characteristics:
- 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’, that is 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 should 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. And though they are not equally equipped, sedans give the feel of driving in a very luxurious car.
However, newer models also come with modern amenities such as heated rear seats, remote controlled air conditioning, stereo, adjustable rear head restraints, and similar. Security features such as armoring 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.
Stretch limo usually seat 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 as 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
- 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. They are fully equipped with modern technology and other amenities, 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 limos, 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 licensed.
- 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?
- 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 if they pass full background check and training. With this, we don’t want to scare you 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.