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Pamela and Michael Machado of Anza, Calif. took about seven years to design, build, and perfect The Midnight Rider, the heaviest limousine in the world. The rebuilt semi tractor-trailer has proven ideal for corporate parties and social events on wheels.
ANZA, Calif. — If The Midnight Rider could be attached to a train, it would have to be the VIP nightclub car. At cruising speed, passengers enclosed in its plush 19th Century railroad interior cannot tell if they are on the tracks or a freeway.
For operators Michael and Pamela Machado, THE MIDNIGHT RIDER has taken the concept of chauffeured transportation to its zenith. The custom-built, luxury outfitted 18-wheeler tractor-trailer is the largest and heaviest — but technically not the longest — limousine in the world.
The Machados keep it parked in a warehouse garage in the rural town of Anza, elevation 4,000 feet, which lies in a mountainous region of Southern California about two hours southeast of Los Angeles. The location gives the Midnight Rider room to be restored and refitted for its runs, and puts it within reach of major Southern California and Las Vegas attractions.
“It’s like a night club on wheels,” says Pamela Machado, executive vice president. “They party on board. Once we are at the destination, they often don’t want to get off when they get there. Since there’s a full bar on board, they don’t need to go to clubs.”
Wheels to history
The four congregating areas aboard, or lounges, separated by split levels and stairs are called: the Pullman Lounge, the Observation Lounge (highest level), the Fifth Wheel Lounge, and Jake Brake Bar (lowest level).
Midnight Rider is modeled after the look of a Pullman Presidential railroad car that was used by President Ulysses S. Grant, who served from 1869-1877, says Michael Machado, president and manufacturer. The interior design features abundant genuine, raw, polished brass railings and fixtures, solid birch wood, and authentic fabric materials. There are no plastics, composites, imitations, powder coatings, veneers, staples, or fasteners, which are not authentic to the construction of the period.
The results can be seen in the details; solid brass welding jobs betray no seams or lines; interior fabrics were hand-selected by Pamela via multiple trips to the Los Angeles garment district, to name a few. The luxury “railroad car” also reflects the mechanical balance of mitigated sound, weight distribution, air-ride suspension, six tons of hidden, efficient HVAC equipment, and an array of structural precision the average client never sees but benefits from. Even the bathroom is decked out in all brass and birch wood.
The Midnight Rider is the largest and heaviest limousine in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, but the longest limousine is still a 100-foot white Cadillac stretch in Burbank, Calif. that is not street legal.
Midnight Rider reaches close to the largest allowable dimensions for a semi by the U.S. Department of Transportation: 13-feet 8-inches high, just four inches underneath the 14-foot federal limit; 8.5 feet wide; and 70-feet long with a 310-inch wheelbase. The interior is 416 square feet across four levels, with the lowest ceiling at 6-feet 6-inches, and higher ceilings in all other lounges.
The luxury behemoth weighs 25 tons and its NTC 400, 435-horsepower, Cummins-powered engine in a Peterbilt truck can pull the tractor up to 90 mph on a flat surface and up to 40 mph on a 6% grade, although Michael emphasizes he never exceeds speed limits with clients on board. Midnight Rider holds 300 gallons of diesel at an estimated $700 cost to fill up, he says. Gas mileage is about 4-5 mpg. It takes two men 18 hours to clean it between each run.
“We built it to have fun with it,” Pamela says, but word-of-mouth soon got it to be a profitable venture. “We had no intention of getting the world record.”