Operator Brings a Little Bit of London into the Old South

Posted on March 1, 1998 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Kevin Keaton had thought about owning a limousine company for more than 13 years. He built a successful commercial janitorial business in Richmond, VA. However, he still yearned for the limousine business. “I love cars — especially the classics,” says Keaton. “When I saw this car, I knew I wanted to be in the business.”

Richmond, Virginia, used to be the heart of the Old South. Jefferson Davis’ Confederate White House still towers downtown. The site of historic plantations and the smell of tobacco farms continue to be prevalent Keaton, owner of London Elegance Limousine Co. in Richmond, VA, believed the public would embrace his 1985 Austin London Coach.

The back of the vehicle has bench seating and a pull-up jump seat to accommodate five passengers. There is extensive head room because the cabs were originally designed to give male passengers the option of wearing their top hats inside the vehicle.

More than 2,000 of these vehicles were imported into North America and converted from left-hand drive cars. The diesel engines were swapped for standard four-cylinder gas engines. The vehicle weighs more than 4,000 pounds and requires oversized drum brakes.

Keaton, who is completing his first year of operation, also has a 1956 Rolls Royce, three limousines, and a sedan. London Elegance extensively markets its classic cars to brides.

“We get an enthusiastic response at bridal shows, especially by clients who rent the London Coach,” says Keaton. “Our chauffeur provides some of the vehicle’s history, which the clients really enjoy. The car has been described as ‘classic elegance’ by many of our clients.”

Keaton warns that maintenance costs for classic vehicles can be exorbitant. “A brake job is $450 and a windshield is $800,” he says.

The vehicle requires a four-step process to use the heating or air conditioning systems. The exact process has to be performed in reverse to turn off the units. “Both units aren’t even labeled,” says Keaton. “We tell our clients that this is a fussy English automobile. They have to be patient with it.”

Keaton plans to add more classic vehicles as his company grows. “I believe people never get tired of true classic vehicles.”

1985 Austin London Coach

Operator. Kevin Keaton

Company Name: London Elegance Limousine Co.

Location: Richmond, va.

Revenue Sources: Weddings and special events.

Features: Weighs more than 4,000 pounds; bench seating and a pull-up jump seat to accommodate five passengers; extensive head room because cab was originally designed to give male passengers the option of wearing their top hats inside the vehicle; and a standard four-cylinder gas engine.

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