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Stretch limousines: Robbi Williams relies on XXL limos

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S tretch sedans belong to the United States of America like Hamburger, the Statue of Liberty or the White House. Pop star Robbie Williams just got married in his mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Friends and acquaintances were brought to the secret celebration by bus from various luxury hotels. Instead, the family members of Williams and his wife drove up in stretch limousines - typically USA.

Stretch limos have a long tradition in the USA

The United States has been the land of long versions since the 1970s. While a Mercedes S-Class or a 7-series BMW as long-wheelbase versions are already unusual in Europe, the off-the-peg sedans in New York, Los Angeles, Miami Beach or Las Vegas are not noticed. Those who are self-conscious and want to pose can be chauffeured to the location of their choice in a stretch limousine. For more than 30 years, the concept of the stretch limousine has been firmly associated with the Lincoln Towncar model.

The name Town Car at Lincoln comes from the early 1920s. Similar to the European landaulets, the American town car was a body shape in which the driver steered outdoors. The gentlemen sat well bedded in their own rear compartment with a fixed roof and indulged in the greatest possible luxury in models from Bentley, Mercedes, Duesenberg or Lincoln.

Lincoln Town Car debuted in the 60s

After the war, the term 'town car' experienced its resurgence in the late 60s. The former top model Lincoln Continental came onto the market as a special model with a particularly noble equipment and was marked with the addition 'Town Car' on the outside. But it wasn't until the early 1970s that the term town car became the epitome of US automotive luxury.

Electric leather seats, air conditioning, an extended wheelbase and all the extras imaginable were offered by the Lincoln Continental stretch limousine in the Town Car version, making it the luxury limousine of the beautiful and successful between Detroit and Los Angeles. Hotels turned their backs on Cadillac and from now on bankers in New York allowed themselves to be driven to work or a short lunch at lunchtime in mostly black painted Lincoln.

The US President drove Lincoln limos

The Lincoln car brand, owned by Henry M. Leland and his sonWilfried founded in 1917, became part of the Ford Motor Company in 1922. Until the beginning of the 90s, among other things, the respective American president was chauffeured with specially armored versions from Lincoln. The White House now mostly relies on products from the General Motors group. Little has changed in the Lincoln's clientele and standards in the last 25 years. The stretch limousine Town Car - together with its counterpart Cadillac DTS - is still the most exclusive and luxurious way of driving an American-made vehicle.

Not only in Europe are many people familiar with the Lincoln Town Car as a white or black stretch version, but even the standard model is one of the longest temptations on the market for production vehicles. Even the basic model, with a total length of 5.47 meters, is a good school ruler longer than the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series - each as a long version. If you look at the stretch limousine market in the US, more than 70 percent are town cars. They have an even higher market share among US luxury sedans. A look into the factory of Krystal Coaches in Brea, near Los Angeles, only underlines this.

Hummer H2 as stretch limousine

The body specialist is one of the largest manufacturers of stretch limousines. Most of the vehicles on the various production lines are dark Lincoln Continental Town Cars. 'That makes up around 70 percent for us,' reports John MacKinney from Krystal Coaches.

Other models are the Chrysler 300 C, the Cadillac DTS or the Cadillac Escalade. John MacKinney: 'About 40 percent of our limousines are exported. But in Europe we no longer get vehicles registered in which one sits lengthways to the direction of travel, and in America the economic crisis has thwarted our plans.'

Bachelor party XXL

Formerly, Krystal Coaches produced and sold well over 1,000 vehicles per year. But sales collapsed in 2008/2009 and the market is only slowly getting back on its feet. Of the formerly over 700 employees at Krystal Coaches, only a good 250 have remained. The bodywork specialist currently produces 50 vehicles per month near Los Angeles. They can then be marveled at in front of the hotels on the Las Vegas Strip or in the Asian gaming paradise Macau.

The limousine services as customers of Krystal Coaches and Co. have their hands full. In Hamburg, Berlin or Munich, too, more and more people want to start their hen party, wedding or birthday party with a tour in a stretch limousine. Competition among manufacturers of long versions is fierce. In order to save costs, many now produce in the low-wage country Mexico and bring themVehicles later back to the USA from where they are shipped all over the world.

Stretch conversion costs around $ 100,000

Producing as cheaply as possible also means that extravagant models are rarely found. Standard models with extensions between two and five meters make most of the turnover at Krystal Coaches. Converting a Lincoln Town Car from the standard 5.47 meters to a total length of almost ten meters costs around $ 100,000. Inside there are up to ten seats, one or two on-board bars, shrill lighting systems, mirrors and an almost incomprehensible number of specialist screens on which films or music videos are shown.

The conversion to a stretch limousine takes a few weeks - depending on the order situation and special requests. The work is always the same. The car is made 'empty' and then cut in two behind the front seats. With steel girders and sheet metal parts, the frame and body are extended to the desired dimensions and then closed again. Only then is the interior design created according to the customer's wishes. Tires, chassis and braking system are adapted to the new requirements. 'We don't do anything on the engine, however. The power is always sufficient for normal operation,' explains John MacKinney, 'the giants are not made for lawns.' Exactly - it's about poses.


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