Dan Nelson, president of AAA Limousine Co. in Santa Clara, CA, has a mistress. She is 26 feet long, candy apple red, and 40 years old. However, she isn’t “that kind” of mistress — she is a 1957 Classic 120-inch Chevrolet Bel Air limousine.
Nelson has invested more than $100,000 in his “mistress” and the results have produced a classic limousine that generates positive attention for Nelson’s company and more than $125 per hour in rental charges.
“We were very interested in creating an unusual limousine,” says Nelson. “We found a beat-up 1957 Chevy and spent a lot of time rebuilding it from the ground up. We redid the electrical, air conditioning, transmission, and a number of other items. The coachbuilder did a great job on the stretch work. Many dollars later, we had a great limousine to offer our clients.”
Almost 50 percent of Nelson’s business is corporate. AAA has 30 vehicles, including 15 sedans, 12 stretch limousines, and 3 vans. Many of AAAs corporate clients are professionals over 40 years old.
“The limousine was a hit with our clients from day one,” says Nelson. “Many of them told us that the 1957 Chevy was a great symbol to them. It represented several of our clients’ first cars. The limousine is a powerful reminder of many of our clients’ youth.”
AAA introduced the car to its corporate clientele via a postcard mailer. “The postcard mailing drew a lot of phone calls from the corporate end of our business,” says Nelson. “They wanted to see the limousine.”
The limousine became more than just a vehicle in AAA’s fleet. It became a piece of nostalgia for the company’s clients.
“Couples rent the limousine for their anniversary because many proposals were made in the same type of car many years ago,” says Nelson.
The limousine features an upgraded, show quality, sound system. “We make sure a selection of 1950s music creates the perfect atmosphere,” says Nelson.
Almost as important as the vehicle’s look is the chauffeur. “Our chauffeurs know the vehicle’s history,” says Nelson. “People are very curious about the limousine. The chauffeur answers questions all night.”
The limousine was built in 1995 and features a leather interior, J-seating, a new engine, and a new electrical system. Nelson tried to use the original doors on the vehicle but could not. “The original doors were so heavy that we kept breaking the windows when the doors were closed,” says Nelson.