It began as a hobby. And the hobby became one of the fastest growing limousine manufacturers in America. Marquis Custom Coach, Canoga Park, California, reflects the tastes and style of its founder, Jules Kaplan, and his wife, Jewel.
“I didn’t get into the limousine business to make a lot of money,” he said. “Building exotic specialty cars was just my hobby. When we began building extended wheelbase limousines I insisted on making the best quality vehicle I knew how. The quality of our cars built the company. The demand has been phenomenal.”
Marquis 1985 Cadillac stretch, which “will give the operator more interior room than the current 1984 Cadillac and will be 22 inches shorter,” says Jules Kaplan, president.
The demand, about 250 units this year, has made it necessary to recently expand the Marquis facilities from 9,000 to 23,000 square feet. In order to maintain quality control, Marquis operates an in-house wood-shop, paint shop, upholstery department, and does all their own sheet metal work.
“We’re the only manufacturer I know of who has their own complete metal shop, including a 10-foot shear and a power roller for sheet metal work,” Kaplan said.
Marquis also designs and manufacturers their own electrical system and fuse box. “We’ve encountered very few electrical problems with our cars as a result,” he said. “Downtime is an important factor in the profitability of limousine services. The electrical system, if made properly, can significantly reduce the amount of time a limousine is out of operation.”
After-sales service is an area in which Marquis feels a strong responsibility to their customers. “If our name is going to be on the car, then we want it right,” Kaplan stated. “Besides the strict adherence to quality control and our in-house production capabilities, we try to always be sensitive to our customers’ needs. We even have a special in-house program that every limousine must go through before we’ll deliver a car to our customers.”
Marquis is so confident about the quality and dependability of their vehicles that the firm includes a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the framework, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile general warranty. Marquis limousines carry product liability insurance and are fully approved by the California Air Resources Board as well.
Marquis markets most of their limousines in the Western states. The bulk of sales is currently going to livery services. As a result, Marquis has developed an unusually close rapport with their clientele, many of whom personally visit the factory for advice, service or installation of new equipment.
The 1985 Cadillac interior from Marquis “is the wave of the future for limousine operators,” says Jules Kaplan, Marquis president.
The growing reputation of Marquis Custom Coach as a quality manufacturer has led to a natural expansion of sales activity beyond traditional areas. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in our products back East and overseas,” Kaplan said.
In fact, Marquis recently concluded arrangements to affiliate with East Coast Cadillac dealer George Feldner. Feldner will represent Marquis in the East and handle Marquis’ service and warranty work as well.
“Our specific target markets back East are hotels, restaurants and major corporations,” Kaplan said. “Much of our unsolicited business has come from these markets. We think this is a good way for us to begin our efforts in that part of the country.”
Marquis also formed a new company in a joint venture to begin leasing limousines in the greater New York area, and along the Atlantic seaboard. New York Yankee baseball player Dave Winfield and his association are partners with Marquis in the new enterprise.
Much of the growth Marquis has experienced is due to the emerging awareness of the firm as a professional and innovative manufacturer of top quality limousines at a realistic price. Marquis uses only quality materials at every stage of construction. “For example, I won’t use veneer or fiberglass on wood trim areas in order to cut costs a little. Only natural wood will do,” he said.
Marquis also does a substantial amount of innovative design work. “We made the first 1985 Cadillac extended wheelbase limousine, a double-cut design that looks great and has more room than a full-size 1984 model,” Kaplan claims.
Standard features include color television, stereo system, natural walnut beverage service with crystal glasses and decanter, electronic moon roof, intercom, power divider window, ice storage compartment and reading lights.
Several engineering alterations have been made on the Royale Coach, as the Cadillac model has been dubbed, to improve its comfort, performance and road handling. Special load-leveling controls, dual battery system, and a separate air conditioning system for the six-passenger rear compartment are just a few of the improvements.
Initial reaction to the 1985 front-wheel-drive limousine has been enthusiastic. “We sold five units before our first car was finished, based solely on the design specifications,” Kaplan said. Their first overseas distributor placed a substantial order after seeing photographs of the limousine.
Marquis also builds a six-passenger limousine for livery services with a bar service; radio and television are recessed in the normal interior side panels of the vehicle. The passenger control is located above the door on the ceiling — another Marquis design that is both functional and attractive.
Marquis Custom Coach takes pride in innovating fresh, new solutions to limousine design. “We’re always keeping ourselves open to a new concept or direction to make our cars more exciting and functional,” Kaplan said. “We currently have several projects in development that will have a significant impact on the industry.”
Whatever new directions Marquis takes in the future, one fact looks clear. That direction will definitely be up.