Vehicle Pick of the Week: This used Mercedes-Benz van should be a no-brainer for operators in need of a sturdy shuttle.
The limousine industry has just concluded another growth year with an ever-increasing number of livery operators ‘and coachbuilders entering the marketplace. 1985 was also another landmark year in the development of limousines with more vehicles being produced than ever before, and a steady stream of new features being introduced.
The most common limousine base units, Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams and Lincoln Town Cars, will not change dramatically in ’86, with the exception of Cadillac’s move to a five-liter engine. Limousine manufacturers, however, are introducing a number of new engineering features and design concepts.
One of the ideas apparently shared by a number of coach-builders at the beginning of ’86 is the goal of producing affordable vehicles that an operator can buy for a relatively low price and then be able to add a VCR, cellular phone, or other accessories at a later time. In what shapes up to be a competitive marketplace in the coming year, a low purchase price looks like one of the most desired features.
Another trend which continues from last year is a demand for versatile limousines that a livery service can use for corporate use, private use, or other applications. A number of limousines with removable or lockable consoles were offered for this purpose last year, and more of them are on the way in ’86.
While it’s difficult to identify trends in the most popular stretch-length of limousines, there is a clear increase in the number of conversions measuring more than fifty inches. At the same time, a few coachbuilders are attempting to meet the needs of services wanting shorter and more maneuverable limousines for corporate and urban uses. Some builders see this as a response to pressures in limousine market areas causing operators to want a competitive edge by offering either the longest or shortest vehicles available.
In addition to new models in the limousine marketplace, another sign of change in the industry in ’86 is an increasing number of limousine dealers who sell vehicles, assist in obtaining financing, and provide service on the base portion, as well as the extended portion, of a limousine. Dealer networks are being established by many of the coachbuilders who distribute across the country, as well as by a number of builders who primarily distribute in particular parts of the country. An initially cold reaction to dealers on the part of some operators used to buying directly from a coachbuilder has begun to thaw considerably as the advantages of having a local sales and service facility have proven to be convenient as well as cost effective.
A final observation at the beginning of ’86 is a growing emphasis on interiors designed to carry six passengers. The livery industry has been content with five passenger limousines since the days of the fold-down jumpseat, but attempts by some coachbuilders to include two full bench seats, while putting traditional limousine accessories in the side panels, were received enthusiastically by operators attending the Limousine & Chauffeur Shows in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Look for more six-seaters in ’86. Here is a preview of some of the new limousines taking to the streets this year.
American Custom Coachworks, Ltd.
From Beverly Hills, CA, American Custom Coachworks, Ltd. offers Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac Sedan DeVille and Fleetwood Brougham limousines. Extended wheelbase lengths of 46- through 56-inches are available.
New for 1986 are side consoles, overhead controls, and improved sound insulation.
An array of options are available, including two-tone exterior paint, custom console arrangements and window tinting. Televisions, VCR, cellular phones, intercoms, and trash chutes are also offered as options. American Custom Coachworks features a five-year, unlimited mileage, full mechanical service warranty.
APC/American Pullman of Brooklyn, NY, unveils a new five-door model called the 540 Saloon. Curbside access is improved with the new door arrangement. Custom details, such as an entertainment center that is accessible to all six passengers, add to the Saloon 540 limousine’s versatility.
Also new for 1986 are overhead fingertip controls, recessed and formal rear windows for a sleeker roof appearance. Now standard on all models is etched divider and partition glass. The removable television console is another new feature. An electrical harness system acts as an extension of the OEM design to reduce maintenance and service.
American Tiffany Coach, Inc.
Headquartered in Jericho, NY, American Tiffany Coach, Inc., offers Lincoln, Cadillac, Buck, and Olds-mobile limousine conversions. Mercedes Benz and Roll Royce limousines are also available. For 1986, stretch-lengths range from 29-up to 60-inches. All GMAC C-body limousines feature a redesigned roof line.
New interior features for 1986 include flush ceiling mounted controls, dual consoles and prewiring for dual-headed cellular phones. Thin-line style corner consoles are offered in 21 finishes. Rear-door mounted, self-contained writing desks are available for both the right and left sides. American Tiffany also offers a variety of warranty programs.
Bradford Coachworks, Inc.
A 52-inch extended wheelbase heads the lineup for 1986 from Bradford Coachworks, Inc. of Boca Raton, FL. Standard on this limousine is the new “Long Door” that provides easier passenger access. Overhead light controls, corner console and a drop-down writing desk are all standard. Hand-crafted, high-finish panels covers the side ice compartment.
Bradford also offers a full line of limousines in stretch lengths of 32-and 46-inches. A 62-inch extended wheelbase is available as a special order. All of Bradford’s rear-wheel-drive Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and Lincoln Town Car limousines feature an exclusive roof design with rain channels. Interior details such as high-gloss wood side or center consoles, matching privacy windows, and roomy consoles are also incorporated into Bradford limousines.
Collins Professional Cars, Inc.
Collins Professional Cars, Inc. of Hutchinson, KS, plans to offer a new formal town limousine designed for corporate use. Based on the Lincoln Town Car, the all-steel constructed limousine will have a 26-inch extended wheelbase. The vehicle is noted for its interior roominess as well as its tight turning radius.
The interior design features forward-facing jump seats, with optional partitions and dividers. Also optional is a rear climate-control system and a rear AM/FM cassette stereo.
In ’86, Crown Coachworks will continue to build Lincoln limousines designed specifically for the livery industry. Crown limousines will feature a fifty-four inch stretch-length, side consoles, and other items to suit the vehicles for efficient livery use according to the company’s Ken Knight.
Dillinger/Gaines will be busily manufacturing livery vehicles at the company’s newly enlarged facility in West Islip, NY. For 1986, Dillinger/Gaines plans to offer a range of extended wheelbase lengths, including 38-, 44-, 46-, and 54-inch models. New for 1986 is a custom dual console which will be offered in addition to the company’s center and side consoles. A new jump seat adds space for another passenger.
Dillinger/Gaines offers a wide variety of limousines, including Cadillacs and Lincolns, and all limousines are built to meet New York D.O.T. certifications. A two-year warranty is standard. An extended warranty with no mileage limit is also available.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Empire Coach will offer Cadillac and Lincoln limousines with extended wheel-base lengths that range from 46 to 50 inches. New for 1986, is the Tiffany Edition limousine featuring an intercom system, power partition, and reading lights.
In addition, the Tiffany is equipped with a removable custom corner console with radio, television, ice chest, and a wine rack. Developed so that an operator can remove the complete bar to maximize space, the console is also designed so that all electric components can be unplugged and removed. The bar is available in side, center or split console designs.
Also new for this year, is the Empire Edition limousine. This 40-inch extended wheelbase executive limousine offers amenities geared for the businessman. The Tortora model has a 50 inch extended wheelbase. Trailer tow packages are included on both limousine models. All Empire limousines are backed by a two-year/24,000 mile warranty.
Executive Coach Builders
Details that enhance passenger comfort and improve driveability are planned for 1986 from Executive Coach Builders of Springfield, MO. All-wood drink holders and flush-mounted vanity mirrors are new features on the Executive President-line of limousines. An instrument dimming panel, a molded collision light, and O-ring connectors for air conditioning are also new.
Driveability is improved with a load-leveling system, a sway bar and metallic front brake shoes. Construction features such as welded interior support brackets and a three-piece steel floor pan add strength to the vehicle. The exterior features rust coatings and a baked-on urethane acrylic finish. The President is available in stretch lengths of 46-, 54-, and 62-inches.
Among the options for 1986 is a new rear door for Lincoln models that is eight inches longer. A two-year/24,000 on Executive Coach-installed components is standard, while a five year/50,000-mile warranty is optional. Executive Coach will convert Lincoln Town Cars, Cadillac, 500 SEL Mercedes, Rolls Royce Silver Spurs, and the 3×3 Chevrolet Dulley.
Federal Manufacturing will enter its sophomore year with the goal of surpassing last year’s output of 260 limousines. In ’86, Federal will primarily build 50- and 54-inch extended wheelbase Lincoln limousines. The company’s objective is to market a standard model, with all of the basic features needed by livery operators, in a production line basis for a maximum combination of quality and affordability.
Built at the former Moloney Manufacturing production facility in Schaumburg, IL, Federal limousines will be built to the same standards which have characterized Moloney limousines in the past. The basic Federal model, according to company president Jim Centner, “is the answer for the limousine operator who wants a lower priced unit he can finance now and add certain options to later.” Standard on ’86 Federal limousines are a choice of either a side or center console with oil-rubbed finish, auxiliary cooling fan, rear heating and air conditioning, reading lamps, and a vinyl roof.
Limousine Werks of Barrington, IL, debuts with a complete line of Cadillac, Lincoln, and Mercedes limousines. Standard Limousine Werks vehicles will be manufactured with a 54-inch extended wheelbase.
Interior features include a lighted crystal area, lighted cabinet storage drawer, and walnut center or corner console. The ice cabinet is roomy enough to hold three champagne bottles in upright positions. The enlarged rear-facing seat increases passenger comfort. Limousine Werks offers a long list of options such as color television, VCR, moonroof, overhead control panel, and a dual battery system.
Limousine Werks vehicles feature a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty. Extended warranties are available. In addition, armored conversions are offered on all models.
Moloney Manufacturing will produce a mixture of limousines and EM sedans at the company’s new production facility in Chicago in ’86. Both the Flagship and Grand Flagship limousine models have been newly refined as a result of Moloney’s continuous quality control program.
In addition to the limousines, Moloney will produce an increasing number of EM sedans in which both the passenger compartment and trunk of the new downsized Cadillac are extended eight inches. Designed for an individual who wants a larger car they can drive, or be driven in, the EM sedan has ample legroom and trunk space while maintaining an overall length which is still ten inches shorter than a standard rear wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham.
Moloney limousines and sedans are available from authorized Cadillac and Lincoln dealers across the country.
New York Custom Coach
1986 projects to be the biggest year ever for New York Custom Coach. The company plans to build luxury limousines with stretch-lengths from 12- to 65-inches New for ’86 will be twin moon roofs, twin bar cabinets, and roll-front cabinets.
Among the engineering features of New York Custom Coach limousines are double-boxed, reinforced chassis and roof rails and side impact crash bars. Optional interior features include sculptured wood around the partition, doors, and ice bucket.
Triple-weld framing, all-steel center sections, and an electronic relay panel are construction features that will be found on the 1986 limousine models from O’Gara Coachworks. With plants in Simi Valley, CA, and Bound Brook, NJ, O’Gara offers stretch-lengths of 46 and 52 inches. New for 1986 is a single cut 54-inch extended wheel-base limousine. The 1986 models also offer more interior room.
A new option available from O’Gara is the Personal Security Vehicle Package (PSV). Although the PSV is not an armored car package, PSV does provide increased protection for passengers through the use of an anti-penetration glass called OmniGard. An alarm system, safety rim tire bands, inside-trunk release, dual batteries, and locking gas cap are also included.
New for 1986 from Royal Carriage of Laguna Beach, CA, is the tandem-axle van limousine. Built on a Dodge or Ford Maxi Van chassis, the corporate model features executive seating for eight to ten passengers. Oak trays with cigarette lighter, ashtray and cupholders keep everything at the passenger’s fingertips.
The full oak console and partition contains the climate control vents. Speakers for the sound system are located underneath each seat. The chairs swivel for conferences. Color television, electronic bar, VCR, and a refrigerator are all standard. The van limousine is backed by a two-year warranty and is built to order.
Southampton’s John Gore reports that the company will primarily build fifty-four inch single-cut Lincoln and Cadillac conversions in ’86. In addition, Southampton will build a number of sixty-four inch double-cut conversions. Gore feels that the fifty-four inch stretch-length is becoming the mainstay of the livery industry.
New for ’86 will be pressure sensitive controls, and an automatic temperature control system is being developed. Other features on Southampton limousines are walnut interiors, moonroofs, dual partitions, modernized overhead controls, circuit breakers, and dual vanity mirrors. One note of interest to limousine operators is that all the accessories in a Southampton limousine, including the electronic bar and moonroof, can be conveniently controlled by the driver.
Williams Motor Works
For 1986, Williams Motor Works of Gardena, CA, plans to add two new vehicles to its limousine line. Built on either a Cadillac or Lincoln Town Car body, the 51-inch single-cut limousine is slated to be priced below William’s 56-inch double cut model.
The top-line entry is the Renaissance, a 56-inch double-cut limousine that combines European design and styling. The carefully crafted roof requires no vinyl top. In addition, the Renaissance features low-profile tires and body-painted chrome. Teakwood trim enhances the Scandinavian styled interior. The control panel has been redesigned and includes a compact disk player in the armrest.
All Williams limousines feature a full, one-year warranty, as well as a five-year frame and structure warranty.
Related Topics: American Custom Coachworks, American Pullman, American Tiffany Coach Builders, Bradford Coachworks, Collins Professional Cars, Corporate Coachworks, Dillinger/Gaines, Empire Coach, Executive Coachbuilders, Federal Manufacturing, Limousine Werks, New York Custom Coach, O'Gara Coachworks, Southampton Coachworks, Williams Motor Works Corp.
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