For many of our Wonder Friends, the high school prom may be a long way off. A wedding is even farther down the road. However, sooner or later, you’ll probably ride in a limo.
A limo — short for limousine — is a luxury sedan that’s usually really long and driven by a chauffeur. Unlike regular cars, limos are known for their luxurious interiors. Used on special occasions, limos can contain a wide variety of special touches, including couches, refrigerators, mirrors, lights, multiple sunroofs, special sound systems and even hot tubs!
Limos weren’t always like the vehicles we see today, though. limousine originally referred to an automobile that had an enclosed portion for passengers and an open driver’s seat. The coverings of these early carriages resembled a cloak and hood worn by shepherds in the Limousin region of France, thus giving the vehicles their name.
Limousines are very expensive, so only very rich individuals can afford to own and ride in a limousine on a regular basis. Most limousines are owned by companies that rent them for use at special occasions, large companies that use them to transport executives or governments that use them to transport high-level government officials.
Special companies exist that build limousines out of regular cars. They take stock cars from manufacturers — regular cars like you might see at any car dealership — and modify them into limousines. This includes stretching the wheelbase, adding sheet metal and glass to create a longer body and adding all sorts of luxury features.
The first “stretch” limo was created in 1928 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, by a company named Armbruster. The first “stretch” limos were usually used to transport bands and their equipment. As a result, they were often called “big band buses.”
Today’s limos can hold many passengers in all sorts of seating configurations. For example, sport-utility vehicles, such as the H2 Hummer, have been made into limos that can seat over a dozen people. Some of these vehicles are stretched 140-200+ inches over their normal wheelbase!