There has been a remarkable process of growth and change in the limousine industry since Limousine & Chauffer Magazine was first published in March 1983. Landmark events have occurred. Industry leaders have emerged. Regulations have appeared at every level of government. And today’s limousine industry bears little resemblance to the way livery service was provided ten years ago.
The following overview of the past decade highlights some of the prominent people and events that shaped the industry.
March: First issue of L&C published with Moloney Coachbuilders on the cover.
Magazine has 42 pages and carries ads from nine coachbuilders—most of which stretch limousines less than 50 inches. Ultra Limousine builds the longest limousine conversion on the market at 63 inches. Dornan Uniforms and American Custom Coachworks begin ten consecutive years of advertising in L&C.
July: Bobit Publishing acquires L&C and publishes July/August issue. “Lincoln-Mercury Limousine Celebration,” brings five coachbuilders to industry, CA for regional limousine show.
November: Ultra Limousines is noted in the Guiness Book of World Records for building the longest limousine at 29 feet 6 inches. The vehicle is later stretched to 40 feet.
Hot Topics in L&C: Double-cuts. Computers. The safety of conversions over 60 inches.
Passing Fancies: Winsome Communications sells L&C to Bobit Publishing after first two issues.
In the 1984, Cadillac replaced its formal limousine with the smaller Series 75 Limousine shown with actress Jane Wyman on the set of Falcon Crest.
January: L&C reports statistics from first annual livery operator survey. Average hourly rate is $31. L&C estimates there are 3.500 livery companies.
March: L&C carries its first report of a New Jersey operator being ticketed by the New York City Taxi & limousine Commission for operating in Manhattan. One coachbuilder predicts the L.A. Olympics “…will make Los Angeles into another New York because you’re going to be so accustomed to seeing limousines during the Olympics…People are going to make enough money off the Olympics to stay in business.”
May: Wisconsin passes law allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in limousines. The Wisconsin Association of Limousine Services, supporters of the bill, estimate legal fees at $2,600 to pass the law.
August: L.A. Olympics fail to produce windfall business for local livery services. New companies fold as limos clog used car lots.
September: Cadillac replaces formal limousine with the smaller, front-wheel-drive Fleetwood 75 Limousine anticipating trend toward more fuel-efficient automobiles.
November: New Jersey passes law allowing alcoholic beverages to be consumed in limousines.
December: L&C holds the first national limousine trade show at Caesar’s Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City with 23 limousines. Meeting held to form National Limousine Association.
Hot Topics in L&C: Side consoles. Cellular phones. Liquor laws. Limousines as tax shelters. Computers.
January: National Limousine Association formed at a meeting in Washington D.C. Jeffery L. Berger retained as general counsel. Second annual L&C Operator Survey finds that one out of three livery companies are less than two years old. Fewer than one out of fiver operators use a computer. L&C advises: “The dishwasher is an excellent way to clean wire wheel covers.”
June: Cadillac delivers 20 limousines to the People’s Republic of China.
November: First L&C Show in Las Vegas features luncheon speaker Tommy Lasorda.
December: $105,000 Mercedes-Benz limousines are among more than 100 vehicles displayed at the L&C Show in Atlantic City. When asked how to get good TV reception in a limousine, one speaker in Atlantic City replies, “Use a VCR.”
Hot Topics in L&C: Cellular phones. Limousine electrical problems. Insurance. Computers. Liquor laws.
Passing Fancies: Hertz stops offering chauffeur-driven rental cars after disappointing trial run at five locations in Southern California. “Backseat Magazine,” launched to carry upscale advertising to limousine passengers, folds after two issues.
Dav-El Livery founders David Klein predicted an evolution toward larger limousine services.
Ralph Nader warned L&C Show attendees about insurance rate increases in the early 1990s.
As executive director of the NLA since 1987. Wayne Smith has strengthened the industry voice on issues ranging from independent contractor status to the Gas Guzzler penalty.
January: California prohibits limousine operators from providing alcoholic beverages. Many operators raise a toast to lower overhead an fewer problems with unruly clients.
March: Third annual L&C Operator Survey reports the average rate for a stretch limousine at $41 per hour. Forty-one percent of livery companies have been in business less than two years. One out of three operators uses cellular phones.
May: L&C interviews celebrity limousine owner Ed McMahon who says, “I’m sure that n all the years I’ve owned limousines, they’ve more than paid for themselves.” National Coach Engineering advertises 40-foot limousines with triple rear axles.
November: L&C interviews TV consumer reporter David Horowitz who says, “I’ve even had…hot towels in the back of the car. Now that is good service.”
Hot Topics in L&C: Industry growth. Gypsy operators. Insurance.
Passing Fancies: Budget Rent-A-Car offering chauffeur-driven rental cars after disappointing trial run at two locations in Southern California. L&C Trivia Contest ends after two installments. Sample question: What was the make, model, and color of Jacqueline Kennedy’s limousine? (Black Chrysler Imperial Crown Limousine.)
January: IRS eliminates investment tax credits, L&C interviews Dav-El founder David Klein who predicts, “We used to have hundreds of little rental car companies and now we have hundreds of little rental car companies and now we have National, Hertz, Avis, and Budget. In the future, you’re not going to have so many limousine companies either. You’re going to have a few major limousine companies in every city.”
February: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader delivers keynote address at L&C Show in Atlanta City.
March: L&C estimates there are 5,000 livery companies in the U.S. Hourly rates for stretch limousines average $4.09 higher west of the Mississippi.
April: Fatal accident on Long Island places media spotlight on limousine safety.
May: L&C reports, “Black cars are the fastest growing segment of the transportation industry.” Executive Chauffeuring School introduces the industry’s first chauffeur manual. Updated edition still available at 310/325-8042.
June: National Limousine Association hires Wayne J. Smith as executive director. Smith tells members, “If the NLA is not organized into a unified group, regulators will run right over the top of the limousine industry.” L&C estimates limousine sales for 1987 model year at 7,000.
July: L&C honors 100th anniversary of Armbruster/Stageway. Scott Solombrino of Fifth Avenue Limousine in Revere, MA acquires Dav-El Livery.
October: Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 508 points in one day triggering widespread cuts in corporate spending and a shift from limousine to sedans.
November: F. Lee Bailey and G. Gordon Liddy speak at L&C Show in Las Vegas. In a meeting with coachbuilders, Lincoln announces formation of limousine design team to develop heavy-duty packages for 1990 Town Car. Inmates at a Nevada prison begin building limousines.
December: California Public Utilities Commission forms committee of limousine operators to discuss enforcement problems.
Hot Topics in L&C: Overhead controls and fax machines in limousines.
Passing Fancies: Cadillac discontinues Fleetwood 75 Limousine after three disappointing years.
A.H.A. was well ahead of its time with a flat floor limousine in 1989.
Fax machines debuted in limousines in 1987.
Bill “Leeman” Matthews cleared eight limousines on an ATV at an event sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Limousine Association.
January: Donald Trump took delivery of a Cadillac limousine at the 1988 Atlantic City L&C Show. Vehicle includes raised roof, Italian leather upholstery, rack-mounted stereo, and a paper shredder.
February: Grand Rapids, MI police invite 300 individuals wanted on arrest warrants to a party promising refreshments, gifts, and free limousine transaction. Two dozen accept the invitation and are chauffeured to jail.
March: Dav-El Livery founder David Klein dies at age 42. Klein expanded a one-car business into one of the world’s best-known limousine companies.
Limousine Owners of Connecticut conducts its first sting operation. Members book rides with illegal operators which lead to five arrests.
Coachbuilders form limousine Industry Manufacturer’s Organization (LIMO). Scott Jeffries of DaBryan Coach serves as first president.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asks 57 limousine manufacturers to certify that their vehicles comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Armbruster/Stageway acquired by the parent company of Executive Coach Builders.
Hot Topics in L&C: J-seats. Long Doors.
Passing Fancies: Limousine Transportation Dispatch Network (LTD) goes out of business after five years.
January: Lincoln delivers armored limousine to President Reagan and President-elect Bush at a White House ceremony.
February: Convenience store robber hijacks a limousine carrying a bride and her entourage. The robber drops the party off at the church in time for the wedding before going off to gut the limousine’s interior. A photo of the robber taken by the bride helps police close the case.
March: Robert Hellmuth, compliance director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), meets with coachbuilders at Baltimore L&C Show to discuss Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards National Coach Engineering exhibits “World’s Fastest Limousine.”
April: Bill “Iceman” Matthews successfully jumps over eight limousines on an all-terrain vehicle at an event sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Limousine Association.
September: George Jacobs begins three-and-a-half year term as NLA president.
November: Lincoln introduces re-designed Town Car which gives limousines their first new look in years. A.H.A introduces first flat-floor limousine.
Hot Topics in L&C: New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission tickets increase by 82 percent over 1988.
Passing Fancies: National Car Rental closes its New Jersey black car operation after eight months. Fifty drivers lose jobs.
January: New York Mayor Ed Koch signs law allowing T&LC to impound limousines. Limousine Association of Washington successfully supports bill placing industry regulation under the State Utilities and Transportation Committee eliminating municipal regulations.
March: National Limousine Association presents the speakers and workshops at L&C Show in Las Vegas. L&C begins Operator of the Year and Industry Achievement Awards. Tom Young of Fairbanks, AK wins a limousine conversion from National Coach Engineering in a drawing at the show.
May: Lincoln introduces Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program to recognize approved coachbuilders. Council of Limousine Associations (COLA) formed in conjunction with the NLA to improve communication with regional associations.
June: Internal Revenue Service allows limousine companies in Atlanta to continue classifying chauffeurs as independent contractors after NLA survey shows that this practice is used by a “significant percentage” of the city’s operators.
July: Krystal Koach announces that a 110-inch limousine conversion met all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards during a crash test. NHTSA announces 21 limousine recalls involving 11 coachbuilders for violation of FMVSS relating to lighting, labeling, seat belts, and window tinting. California PUC requires limousine operators to document worker’s coverage for all employees.
September: LIMO announces that a 75-inch limousine conversion met all FMVSS standards during a crash test. By using design specifications from the test vehicle, LIMO members certify that their limousines meet FMBSS. LIMO implements seal program to identify limousines built by members.
November: Lincoln selects 14 coachbuilders as founding members of the QVM program. California passes law prohibiting cities from requiring local business licenses from limousine companies based in other cities.
Hot Topics in L&C: J-seats. Remote controls for limousine amenities. T&LC.
Passing Fancies: Soon after announcing Sydney Biddle Barrows, “The Mayflower Madam,” as keynote speaker at Las Vegas Show, L&C replaces her with a less controversial choice.
January: Limousines become subject to Gas Guzzler penalty averaging $2,000 per vehicle. NLA survey provides Boston limousine operators IRS approval to continue classifying chauffeurs as independent contractors.
March: Music Express general manager Joey Henriques meets Fleetwood Limousine offices manager Kim Flynn at L&C Show in New Orleans. Marriage follows on December 26.
November: NHTSA announces ten coachbuilders have been asked to recall Cadillac limousines to upgrade rear wheel brake cylinders.
December: NLA begins “Action Line” allowing members to report problems with vendors or other operators.
Hot Topics in L&C: Gas Guzzler. Vans and mini-buses.
March: Cadillac announces Cadillac Master Coachbuilder program to identify manufacturers meeting OEM standards in quality and manufacturing practices.
May: NLA hires lobbyist to help end conflict between New York area operators and the T&LC/ L&C survey reports that 53 percent of livery operators are based at home. Fifty-one percent of chauffeurs are classified as independent contractors.
July: NLA president George Jacobs testifies to Congress that independent contractors are a legitimate part of the limousine business. LIMO aggress to co-sponsor the next three L&C Shows with L&C and the NLA.
September: Cadillac introduces redesigned Brougham and renames it Fleetwood. NLA announces agreement with T&LC allowing limousine operators based in New York state, but outside New York City, to operate in the Big Apple with $200 exemption sticker.
Hot Topics: New-look Cadillac Fleetwood. Gas Guzzler.
Passing Fancies: New York City Mayor’s Office proposal of $45,000 limousine medallion is shot down by Advisory Council on Taxi and Limousine Affairs.
January: NLA and LIMO agree to jointly pursue repeal of Gas Guzzler Penalty for commercial limousines. George Jacobs ends three-and-a-half year term as NLA president. Cadillac announces 14 Master Limousine Dealers to receive specialized training and parts inventory.
March: L&C celebrates Tenth Anniversary.
John Gore of Southhampton Coachworks introduced one of the first limousine remote controls.
Joey Henriques, general manager of Music Express, and Kim Flynn, manager of Fleetwood limousine, met at the New Orleans L&C Show and were married this past December.