Page 1 of 3
Front to back: Leah Munoz, president; Rachel Drenk, CFO; and Nancy Munoz, founder/CEO run Specialty Vehicles, which displayed its Classic American Trolley model for the first time in February at an International LCT Show.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Boston-area operator Kevin Cronin makes the most of the steady wedding market for limousines by staying current with fleet trends among clients. His latest move was to buy the Classic American Trolley that was displayed at the 2012 International LCT Show Feb. 13-15 at the MGM Grand conference center in Las Vegas. It was the first trolley displayed at the Show by its maker, Specialty Vehicles of Henderson, Nev.
“It is the new limousine of the wedding market,” says Cronin, president of Above All Transportation in Canton, Mass. “We’re seeing a new niche for weddings. A trolley is supposed to look old fashioned and can be modern underneath. . . There are a lot of trolleys out there and a lot of operators pushing them, but no one is pushing a high-end trolley.”
New wedding guest
Specialty Vehicles has seen rising trolley sales since at least 2006 from chauffeured transportation operators trying to meet demand from brides and wedding clients. Owner and founder Nancy Munoz estimates about 75 to 100 trolleys have been sold to the limousine operations of all fleet sizes nationwide. Most demand for trolley vehicles overall still comes from municipal and public transportation systems. Specialty Vehicles has sold hundreds of its transit-style, rear-engine trolley models to cities and municipalities, which are built on heavier chassis than the Classic American Trolley being marketed to the chauffeured transportation industry.
Since its modern day incarnation in the 1950s, the trolley vehicle taps into a nostalgic ideal in the American mindset, Munoz says. The wooden benches and floors with brass trim and interior components evoke an old-American antique décor and ambiance. “It’s so different and many people haven’t ridden on one. A trolley will have 150% more ridership than a bus in some areas. Buses are plain, but a trolley is cute, pretty, and everyone from age 5 to 105 likes to ride on one.”
At Absolutely Charleston (www.absolutelycharleston.com), a chauffeured vehicle and wedding transportation service in that historic South Carolina city, the Specialty Vehicles trolley is in constant demand season after season. “It’s the most classic looking trolley that you can get for the price, and for all the different features, it’s a good service vehicle, engine and transmission,” says Walt Thorn, owner and president. There is a lot of brass and it looks like older trolleys.”
Custom limousine qualities
The trolleys bought by chauffeured transportation companies can be customized in numerous ways, with extra party/disco lighting, refrigerators, beverage bars, sound systems, seat cushions and/or upholstered seating, oak wood features, various seat configurations, and entertainment poles.
“Almost everything has been used in a wedding,” Cronin says. “Fifteen years ago, everyone needed to have a white stretch limo and then it was unique. Then larger stretches became popular with younger clients. The trolley offers the same thing but it’s a timeless piece. On that Show trolley, I’m going to add some trick lighting controlled by the driver, so if it’s used for a wedding, it will be very subtle. If it’s a night out for a client, you can fire it up and it’s a great time.” In addition to the trick lighting, Cronin also plans to add a TV, stereo hookups, a full bar, spare benches, and back-up cameras.
The Classic American Trolley enables a bride with a big white dress to more easily get in and out than in a stretch limousine, Munoz says. She also can ride with her bridal party to the ceremony site, hotel and reception venue while the conductor’s platform along the rear provides an ideal spot for photos. Operators also can opt to upsell the trolley with wedding packages that include champagne, flowers, and personal signs.
A major selling point of the trolley is the rear conductor’s platform, providing the perfect quaint, warm backdrop for wedding photos of the bride and groom. “The rear platform is the money shot,” Cronin says. “That’s the picture that the bride and groom want. [The trolley] also [enables] them to travel with their entire bridal or wedding party. That is what the new trend is going toward. If you can put everyone in one vehicle and give picture opportunities, that allows an operator to make good money and allows the bride and groom to save money.”
LCT PHOTO GALLERY OF SPECIALTY VEHICLES CLASSIC AMERICAN TROLLEY HERE