From Academic Kids

A limousine (or limo) is a long luxury car, traditionally black in color. Limousines are often driven by chauffeurs.

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A black Lincoln "stretch" limousine at a car show in Bristol, England

While some limousines are owned by wealthy individuals, many are owned by governments to transport senior politicians, by large companies to transport executives, or by broadcasters to transport guests. Many more limousines operate as vehicles for hire, providing upmarket competition to taxicabs.

The word limousine is derived from the name of the French region Limousin, where the inhabitants wore a hood perceived to be similar to the profile of the car.

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Winton Six Limousine, 1915. Note that the driver is in a compartment separate from the passengers, a distinctive limousine feature.

Limousine Ownership

For the most part, only limousine service and rental companies own limousines. Even the wealthy who use limos as their main mode of city transportation do not own the limousine -- they contract with a limousine service for long term availability through a lease arrangement.

Limousine Rental

Those in need of a limo will usually contact a rental company to provide transportation on a very short term basis. The most common requirements are for transportation to an airport, proms and weddings.

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White limousine seen in London, England

Limousine Types


A limousine will have a partition between the driver compartment and the rear passenger compartment. This partition will usually contain a sliding glass window so that conversations between passengers in the rear compartment may be kept private from the chauffeur.


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Lincoln Limousine used by U. S. President Calvin Coolidge, c. 1924

Traditionally, the limousine has been an extension of a large sedan. A longer frame and wheelbase allow the rear passenger compartment to contain the usual forward facing passenger seat but with a substantial amount of footroom - more than is actually needed. Usually then two "jump seats" are mounted, facing rearward behind the driver. These seats fold up when not in use. In this way, up to five persons can be carried in the aft compartment in comfort, and up to two additional persons carried in the driver's compartment, for a total capacity of seven passengers in addition to the driver. Vehicles of this type in private use may contain amenities such as entertainment centers and refrigerated refreshment centers.


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Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Car and Bentley Arnage sedan

As shown in several of these illustrations, most modern limousines are extended in length far beyond that required for personal use. These are typically used to transport partygoers to and from events such as dances and weddings. Rather than the typical transverse seating these will have benches along the length of the extension, either on one side or on both sides. This allows the travelers to face one another, unlike the traditional "stage" vehicle, which uses multiple doors to access rows of forward facing seats. In addition to the traditional black (considered appropriate for funerals, as it is a mourning color in western societies) many white limousines are now operated (considered appropriate for weddings in western societies).


Another type of vehicle modified for multiple passenger use is the motorized stage, applied to the same tasks as the earlier stagecoach. It is not considered a true limousine but rather in its design and application is between a sedan and a bus. While a bus will have a central interior aisle for access to seating, a stage has multiple doors that allow access to transverse forward facing seats. This type of vehicle was once rather common in some locations. An example of its typical use was in the transport of travelers arriving by railroad at Merced, California to Yosemite National Park in the first half of the 20th century. Passengers would then stay in rustic platform tent camps or more expensive lodges (both of which are still available) and hike or rent bicycles for movement around the park.

A modern version of the stage is seen in some novelty strech Hummer or Hummer H2 vehicles operated by some limousine companies.

Limousines built on exotic vehicles

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BMW 740iL stretch - United States
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Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas stretch - United States

Custom coach builders can perform aftermarket extensions on luxury sedans and SUVs which are not factory-produced in stretch form. These extensive (and expensive) limousine conversions have been performed on countless luxury marques, including, but not limited to: Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Hummer, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Rolls Royce.

Most custom coach builders are located in the United States and Europe and cater mainly to celebrities, government officials, and financial executives. Few such vehicles are available for public hire.

These custom stretch limousines can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to luxuries, safety features such as armoring and bulletproof glass are often available.

Exotic custom limousines

Sometimes a custom coach builder or custom car designer will develop the "ultimate" stretch limo, adding amenities that are in fact somehat impractical but which make a significant design statement. One such design included double rear axles at the rear to support the weight of an operational hot tub.

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