Lately, all the press on safety and certified limousines has prompted some operators to call us to challenge the issue. One central complaint I’ve heard over and over again relates to the cost of purchasing a new QVM- and/or CMC-certified limousine. Operators have often told me they can’t always afford a new limousine. They’d rather buy a used sedan with a new conversion. They don’t see the great advantage of spending more to buy a QVM- and/or CMC-certified vehicle.
What these operators have failed to realize is that product safety is measured largely by the weight of the vehicle. The federal government mandates that all vehicles must be weight-rated and a sticker must be placed on the driver’s door to show the maximum load capacity of the vehicle. For instance, a regular retail Lincoln Town Car has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of about 4,500 lbs. On the other hand, the 418 Town Car package, the chassis all QVM coachbuilders purchase from Ford to convert to limousines, is certified to withstand 7,100 lbs. Similarly, the Cadillac professional vehicle package has a GVW of 7,200 lbs.
What am I trying to say? The base units sold to certified builders are designed in Detroit to withstand the extra weight of the conversion and passenger load—they’re intended to be turned into limousines. A regular sedan is not. If you take a sedan that was built to handle 4,500 lbs. and turn it into a limousine, you’re adding much more stress than the car was designed to take, thus seriously pushing the safety envelope.
Among the features in these “beefed up” sedan packages are heavy-duty springs and steering gears, stronger frames, better front suspension, heavier rated tires, and stronger axles and brake drums.
When you purchase a limousine, you should consider what type of base unit was converted. It’s simple. Look on the inside of the driver’s door or ask about the sedan GVW. This is especially important on super-stretches, because the longer the limousine, the greater the stress placed on the chassis.
Our April issue cover story spotlights the certified limousine manufacturers and their 1998 product introductions. All of these certified builders use the special Cadillac or Lincoln heavy-duty sedans in their conversion processes. This, along with the added safety features that coachbuilders incorporate into their conversions, is why we continue to support them exclusively in LCT. This protects you, the buyer, in more ways than you may realize.
Be safe, and buy safe.