Growth of the limo

From noble beginnings...


Opulence is an ancient way of life for some people. Royalty, nobles, Russian oligarchs, presidents and, yes, even dictators have asserted their right to lavishness for donkey’s years.

The convention has filtered down to present-day life, but extravagance has become far more available now than it was back in the day.

An average Joe, like you or me, can now lease a limousine, or any other type of luxury motor, for a tolerable fee. That payment also means we can then spend time being indulged and chauffeured around in comfort and style for a day or more. It all depends on how deep your pockets are.

But have you ever wondered about when the first limo was designed, or when the notion of a chauffeured car was triggered? Check out the saga of riding in luxury limos below.


The name ‘limousine’ originates from France. Before proper limos were produced, the concept of chauffeured transport was conceived by means of horse-drawn coaches. These began to grow in reputation with the well-heeled during the 1700s. Those prosperous people who could meet the expense of the carriages often had them veneered with jewels and gold. They also only used the crème de la crème of horses to cart them about.

Early Motor-Powered Limousines

The earliest ‘limousines’ as we think of them these days came soon after the creation of the motor car at the beginning of the 1900s. These means of transportation had a couple of separate cubicles: one for the chauffeur and one for the people along for the ride. A panel separated the two booths, which is what was so appealing about a chauffeured provision. Riding was self-contained and good for business dealings when topics needed to be debated without others earwigging.

Stretch Limos

So, the initial limousines were just like early cars, but with separators between compartments. By the end of the 1920s, a new kind of Limousine was invented, though. It was called the stretch limo and was devised in Arkansas in the United States of America. Cadillac ushered in one of the earliest stretch limousines. It continues to be a trailblazer in the sale of these kinds of limos and other luxury cars to this day. Back in the day, many users of limousines preferred stretch versions. This is because they enabled you to bring extra people with you, and the elongated car also gave you more room to kick back and chill out in.

Commie Cars

Russian Limousines were also big business for the lucky few, thanks to the Soviet Communist Party’s demands. Following the directives of Stalin, production on limos started during the end of the 1920s and early 30s where the Leningrad L-1 was constructed in a limited quantity. From these foundations, the Gorky and Moscow models materialised. And later in the 50s, Chinese-originated cars, made with Russian backing, emerged.

Modern Limousines

These days you can select all different kinds of limos – from Hummers to limousine buses and lots more. There are lots of options for a sophisticated chauffeured jaunt, but none is as well-liked as the unforgettable black stretch limo. This is traditionally used for events like weddings, corporate dos and school proms. Limousines are definitely the best way to journey in style. Many stretch limos have mini bars and TVs, and some of them even have high-tech audio systems that can make you feel like you’re seated in the middle of an orchestra. What’s more, all of this comes with convenience and privacy.

Limo Examples:

1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible

When you think of limousines, presidential limos probably come to mind more than anything else. John F. Kennedy riding happily (until he was gunned down) in his stretched Lincoln Continental drop-top in Dallas in 1961 is among the most famous and televised image ever. Consequently, Kennedy’s Lincoln is probably the most infamous limousine in world history.

Intriguingly, though, the JFK car was not instantly pensioned-off by the U.S. administration following the president’s untimely end. Owing to the cost of exchanging the Continental with a fresher model, the limo was re-armoured, given an engine upgrade, and furnished with a non-detachable bullet-proof glass roof. It remained in service for 13 years, carrying four more American heads of state.

Indeed, JFK’s Lincoln Continental was the very last convertible used by a U.S leader. All the presidential limos that came after the 1961-manufactured car were impenetrable limousines, heavily adapted for security.

Bespoke 1988 Cadillac Limo

Other famous limousines are the couple that Donald Trump had designed for Cadillac nearly thirty years ago. The customised cars were first mentioned by today’s U.S president in his 1987 memoirs, ‘The Art of the Deal’.

President Trump said he was contacted by the then boss of Cadillac, John Grettenberger, and agreed to two less-than-discrete models: The Trump Executive Series and the Trump Golden Series.

Both limousines were revealed in America’s Atlantic City in 1988, and included wool carpeting, Italian hide upholstery, a VCR, a TV, an oh so 80s fax machine, an early mobile ‘phone and even a paper shredder.

So, while many of us might not get to ride in a limousine quite this extravagant, you can certainly access deluxe limo services. And you won’t even have to take out a mortgage to afford to do it!