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Vintage Chauffeuring offers a 1940 Packard Custom Super 8 180, Packard's top of the line factory made limousine. It has been retrofitted with a modern drivetrain, suspension, and air conditioning. The exterior and interior remain true to original. (Photo by David Casper)
Running vintage vehicles can take more effort than planning the high-maintenance weddings they often serve. Vintage vehicles often involve costly repairs and upkeep, when compared to later model chauffeured vehicles.
Yet some retail operators spring for one or more vintages for weddings and special occasions because they bring in more business, whether the vehicle earns a profit or acts as a loss leader. Just one vintage in a fleet can prompt a marrying couple to reserve more vans, stretches or buses for large groups.
“Vintage vehicles can be a necessary evil to book bigger vehicles, but it all depends on the market you’re in,” says Robert Xavier, president of Legend Limousines in Smithtown, N.Y. Xavier has a 22-vehicle fleet, including nine buses, five of which are 30+ passenger models, but it’s the 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith that brings in the group wedding work.
Robert Xavier’s 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith had a custom rebuild that stayed true to the original parts, but modernized the interior with fresh leather, carpet, and refinished wood grain accents. It is unique in that it has a rounded back, making it only one of 15 vehicles of its kind registered around the world.
“If you’re in a destination city like Miami, Manhattan, or Las Vegas, you can secure large group work because there is consistent demand,” he says.
“For the rest of us who are not in destination cities, there are only so many big vehicles we can own before we need to have a specialty vehicle.
For the ‘55 Rolls, they don’t just book the car. They also book the buses for the entire wedding party. These vintage cars may not be the most profitable vehicles to run, but they can bring in a lot of work.”
Another benefit to a vintage vehicle is its marketing and promotional potential. With the right photography and scenery, vintages can class up a company’s advertising images and social media posts.
Brad and Joy Schroeder with their 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 limousine. The vehicle needed sludge drained out of the fuel tank, a new battery and spark plugs, carburetor, fuel line, and fuel pump.
Saying A Thousand Words
At Vintage Occasions in Sioux Falls, S.D., two vintage fleet vehicles succeed in the local market thanks to husband-wife owners Brad and Joy Schroeder marketing them on social media.
“Our marketing strategy has primarily been Facebook,” Joy Schroeder says. The classic vehicles, a 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Series Limousine and 1948 D24 Dodge, have seen steady demand from wedding clients and for “Big Band Ballroom Dancing” nights at the local hall in Sioux Falls. The cars have appeared at the Joe Foss Field Airport for historical air shows, and Joy and Brad often will dress up in vintage clothing for marketing pictures.
“We run Facebook promotions, requesting comments, likes, and shares, and have given away free rides to winning participants,” Joy says. “We also have used paid advertising, which can be customized to reach our target audience, typically engaged couples, and we are on Twitter and Instagram now because our audience is moving there.
"But what all of these [social media channels] have in common is pictures of our cars in action. We’re showing something tangible: whether it’s a bride with her dad or groom, or a happy couple celebrating a milestone anniversary, or a son treating his dad for his 85th birthday. The only thing these smiling pictures can’t convey are the laughter and the music — but that’s what videos are for.”