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Who Invented the Limousine?

The history of the limousine begins not in Hollywood, not in New York City, but in a damp upland clover meadow bordered by French Oak trees in Limousin, France, circa 1500. On the edge of the meadow is a shepherd wearing a long cloak with a baggy hood for defense against mountain winds.

Evolution of the limousine

The Limousin Cloak Goes to Paris
Fast forward a hundred years. French nobles no longer trudge through muddy city streets, but are carted about on Sedan Chairs like medic stretchers. Then some bone-weary worker lashes his horse to his Sedan Chair, and the horse-drawn buggy is born. By the late 1700s, Paris alone has more than 14,000 horse-drawn carriages. Talk about an emissions problem.

But driver and drivee still occupy the same space inside the carriage. Rain, mud and catcalls fall on both. So someone, forgotten by history, erects a partition between the chauffer and the noble, thereby birthing the first horse-drawn limousine. From now on, wealthy passengers will sit inside a closed carriage while the horseman sits outside, wearing a “Limousin” cloak as he whips the horses through long, lonely nights.

A Limo, Born from Laziness
Then Karl Benz invents the modern automobile, powered by an internal combustion engine, in 1886, and people immediately start figuring out how not to drive it. In 1902, the first automobile limousines are developed with the driver sitting outside in a covered compartment, eyes and ears away from the passengers. The iconic automobile from this era is the 1908 Studebaker-Garford B with its enormous wheel arches and fully enclosed compartments. In 1916, the Society of Automobile Engineers releases its official definition of a limousine: “A closed car seating three to five inside, with driver’s seat outside.”

Then Benny Goodman, the “King of Swing,” shows up to one of his concerts in a brand new stretch limousine, developed by coachbuilder Ambruster just that year in 1928. Out steps the bespectacled Goodman with his musical instruments; in steps the era of “big band buses.” Stretch limousines are used to transport famous figures like Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman and their entourages.

Hollywood Falls in Love
The Great Depression may have damped business during the 1930s, but it doesn’t dampen creativity, nor does it dampen Hollywood stardom. Enterprising heads send limousines rolling in two different directions. Limousines are used as airport shuttles – and to mark the debut of a Hollywood superstar. Roll up with a chauffeur and a long chassis, Hollywood says, and you officially “made it.” Many of these luxury limousines come courtesy of James P. Carey, a crystal ball entrepreneur who renovates a New York City cab company into a wildly successful luxury limo service.

Leave it to Cadillac to make things even bigger. In 1962, coachbuilder Armbruster merges with Stageway Coaches from Cincinnati, Ohio to form Armbruster-Stageway Coachbuilders. Twelve years later, the company builds the first six-door modern limousines on Cadillac chasses. They are sleek, low-slung, and will soon see use in funeral and security transportation.

By 1978, automobile limos have been puttering about the globe for more than three-quarters of a century. Yet the nation claims only 1,500 or so limousine operators. It is the time when the middle class still reigns, when being rich means taking a summer vacation and sending a kid to college.

With Limo Comes Luxury
Then comes the ‘80s: the stock market booming and oil prices skyrocketing and banks blossoming and the advent of the Internet. Fortunes quadruple, quintuple, and it is on that wave of corporate success that the limousine will ride. Custom limo builders pop up like daisies, offering air-conditioning, leather upholstery, power locks, and other super-modern features to entice customers.

In 1987, the stock market crashes, and so does the limo market. And so it has been ever since. Limousine builders continue to offer the latest in comfort and technology. Affluent brides and business executives scurry in line. Then the next bear market hits, the phoenix burns, and the limo rolls on.

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Read Our Reviews

ULC Limos is rated 4.83 out of 5.0 stars based on 35 review(s).

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The 44- seat bus was comfortable, clean, and spacious. And affordably priced! Our driver Jose was wonderful - a careful driver who was interested in making our trip successful. He made sure the PA system was working, drove us to the closest, safest spots to load and disembark at our various sites, and even took a group photo of us at the end of the tour! Shannon, who booked us, was great about getting everything signed off and ready. Overall, a fantastic experience. Highly recommend.

- Barbara

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Excellent!

- Raju

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The drivers were great. Even Showed up early. I was disappointed that I spoke with the office staff at least three times, sent them detailed route maps twice, as well as written instructions, specifically asking them to share those with the drivers, and when the drivers showed up, they knew nothing about that and had not been given them to them. We took them on a drive thru on the routes to fix this. Was also disappointed that I asked the office staff to provide “out to lunch” signs for the buses drivers could take their breaks and that was not done. We had to do that for them. Drivers were great, disappointed in the office staff.

- Nancy

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Everything was perfect. Driver was on time. He was professional and made everyone feel safe with his driving. Thank you for your service.

- Susana

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ULC was perfect. The kiddos had fun and Senior Prom was a success. The kids driver Cruz was fun. He updated parents in regards to drop offs and pick up times.

- Veronica

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Damon was excellent!

- Simon

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Thank you so much from start to finish! Steve, Sharron, and our driver Pat are a fabulous team to do business with! Pat, thank you so much for taking such good care of all our seniors and making everything perfect for their special evening! Xoxo

- Stacey

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ULC party was incredible. They were so helpful from the start. The limo bus was very nice and the driver Scott was professional and friendly. ULC made prom a memorable experience for ours kids. Thank you again for the exceptional service!

- Sandy

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Very spacious and wonderful lights! Loved the ice bar and the stereo!!

- Naomi

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Thank you ULC! Absolutely great service. Driver was on time, communicated and the prom kids had a blast in the party bus. I appreciate that the driver let us know he was bringing the kids home. Even had the lights and music going for them when they were ready to go home. Again, thank you and we will definitely reach out for more services.

- Gil

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Kids had a great time on the way to Prom. Driver was fantastic, on-time, easy to get along with, no issues.

- Taylor

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Our driver was very kind and courteous. Thank you.

- Geneva

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Great experience!

- Nicole

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Luis was wonderful and we had a fantastic travel experience relaxing in our way to LAX. Looking forward to an equally relaxing ride on the way home.

- Mandy

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Cruz was friendly and very accommodating.

- Amy

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The service is always outstanding! It's always easy to make bookings, and the customer care is top-notch! Thank you!

- Luci

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Driver was great! Good vibe and very professional. Thank you guys!

- Miguel

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ULC did a great job for our event. They were very responsive with all of our requests and did a great job. Thank You!

- Tim

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Had a blas very clean bus nice staff

- Antone

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Great service

- Adam

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Very friendly staff and they have great communication. All my concerns or questions were answered and they were easy to contact.

- Monica

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Jude was amazing, thank you so much for the excellent service.

- Neil

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Shannon our coordinator and Pat our driver did a wonderful job! The Executive Bus was very comfortable and clean. We will reccomend. Thank you 😉

- Becky

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Was very pleased with the fast and reliable service we received.

- Yara

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Great experience! I have recommended you guys to a few people who have been asking. I want to especially thank our driver MIKE D ! He was very nice and welcoming!! He was also very attentive to all of our needs thank you for a great time on my bday :)!

- Karina

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awesome service

- Chunchun

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Driver on time and professional. Will definitely use their services again!

- Isela

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George was on time, friendly and did well. thanks

- Jeremy

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Jude was wonderful for our event!

- Jessica

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Great company! The driver Kerri was amazing and helpful throughout. I would book again.

- Darrilyn

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Excellent service. Limo was clean and driver friendly. Highly recommend to family and friends.

- Caroline Fraser

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Everything was perfect. The limo was super clean, and driver friendly. Would recommend to family and friends.

- Caroline

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Limo was fantastic and our driver, Jude was great!!! Had a great time. Will definitely use company for next event.

- Russell

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Great Driver and Great Service!

- Wesley