Limousine Facts You Probably Never Knew

Once again the Oscars have rolled into town trailing a long line of shiny people waiting for their turn in front of the cameras. And while the celebs propel themselves down the red carpet to get photographed smiling, preening, and generally looking a bit unnecessary, you can guarantee nearly every one of them arrived in a limousine. Often containing large groups of screaming teenage girls or bachelorettes, limousines usually serve about as much use as a sign that says "Hey, look at me!" But there are exceptions! Here are a few facts you probably never knew about limousines.

Go long

Although "technically" the first limousine was built in 1902, it was little more than a luxury car designed to be driven by a chauffeur. It was not until 1923 that a vehicle was built that can truly be considered the heir to the phallic ego props we know today. Built in Arkansas, these first "stretch" limousines became popular with the big bands like the Glenn Miller orchestra for their ability to transport people and equipment in comfort, and as a result acquired the nickname of "big band busses," although it sounds like "musician's mini-van" would have been a more apt description.

Stay cool

Put a bunch of celebs in the same space and you get a lot of hot air, so it's no surprise that a limousine was the first vehicle to be equipped with air conditioning. The Packard motor company was the first to offer AC in 1940, although it was large and took up half the trunk space. In true modern limo style, though, it was more about saying you had it than making life comfortable, because that early system had no automatic temperature control. But hey, at least it gave those early passengers something to complain about.

Now we're flying

Limos are pretty expensive, but not as expensive as a Boeing 727. Unfortunately you can't land a 727 in downtown Los Angeles without causing major disruption and death, so a Mexican limo company has come up with a solution. By cutting off the wings of a Boeing 727 and mounting the fuselage on a bus chassis, this company has created...something. Sporting a full bar and even a dance floor, this luxury vehicle sure checks the boxes on the inside. But while cutting off the wings and adding wheels might have sounded pretty good on paper, in practice the result is less private jet and more private parts.

Wings come as standard

One limo that doesn't need to pretend to fly is the presidential limo, colloquially known as Cadillac One. Because as well as being the nearest thing to the Batmobile in the real world, with smoke grenades, armored glass, and several quarts of the president's blood in the trunk, Cadilac One also comes with its own plane. The leader of the free world also represents American car companies, and since the hands of the president have certain "Midas" like endorsement powers, you know he can't take a seat in anything that isn't built in America. So when POTUS travels to another country, Cadillac one goes too in a Globemaster C-17 transporter.

The JFK blues

Back in the days before Kennedy was shot, presidential limos were just standard cars—and Kennedy liked his to be blue. No president before or since has been seen in anything that wasn't black, and because TV was mostly black and white in the 1960s, most people thought JFK's Caddy was black too. After Kennedy was shot presidential limos started getting armor. And in an ironic twist, that armor nearly cost president Ronald Reagan his life, because when Reagan was shot in 1981, the one bullet that hit him out of the six that were fired was a ricochet off the armor of his limousine.

Waste not, want not

It is standard practice in the 21st century for the presidential limo to be replaced every four years, the old ones getting passed down to the vice president and other lesser mortals. But back in the day when Kennedy was shot, the Secret Service wasn't so quick to waste a good car. After JFK's very public and messy death, you might expect that car to be replaced, because who would want to use that car again? But no, it was painted black, had a roof added and a little more protection from bullets, and it was hauled out three more times to carry Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.

Getting nowhere fast

It seems no crime is too great for the "hey, look at me!" crowd, because someone has desecrated a Ferrari 360 Modena by converting it into a limo. And while the new prancing dachshund can get eight passengers to their destination at 170 miles per hour in a streak of Ferrari red, these "gains" are somewhat undermined when the occupants try to exit—because nothing says class like exposed underwear and bumping heads on gull-wing doors.

Gold plated ego

As if hiring a limo isn't attention seeking enough, why not have one gold-plated? And not just any limo: the Sultan of Brunei clearly wanted to make a statement for his wedding, because he bought a Rolls Royce Silver Spur stretch limousine, and had it plated in 24-carat gold. And here's hoping that wedding lasts, because that's one $14 million wedding feature that you definitely can't use twice.

Prius limo

It's hard to imagine a limo being described as environmentally friendly, and it's equally hard to imagine a celeb actually caring so long as people are looking at them, but someone obviously does—because that same someone has built a limo out of a Prius. And while we should probably applaud any effort to reduce the impact of inflated egos on the environment, any success in that direction achieved by using the Prius is probably outweighed by the inevitable increase in smug.

Elvis was a good tipper

According to an anecdote once told by Larry King, Elvis might be the world's best tipper. After performing at the Miami convention center, he took a limo on his way back to Miami International airport. And while most celebs might throw out a casual "thank you" as they get out of the car, it seems Elvis was a little more generous with his gratitude. When he got out of this particular limo Elvis asked the driver "do you own this limo or do you work for the company?", the driver responded "I work for the company". So Elvis says "you own it now" apparently gifting the driver the car—you can bet that driver was all shook up (sorry).