How Limousines Work


Josh: Josh Clark

Chuck: Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant

Vo: Voiceover Speaker

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[MUSIC]

Vo: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

[MUSIC]

Josh: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark with Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant, and Jerome, Jeri-do we say your last name these days, Jeri?

Chuck: No, we've never said it.

Josh: Okay.

Chuck: She's like, "Keep it that way."

Josh: Yeah. Jerome, Jeri, blank.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Yeah.

Josh: Jerri Blank.

Chuck: That's a real person, right?

Josh: No, she was on Strangers with Candy.

Chuck: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. I was like, man, I know that name.

Josh: Yeah, that name sounds really familiar.

Chuck: That was the character, right?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: She really cleaned herself up and went on to become a spokesperson for Downy.

Chuck: Who, Amy Sedaris?

Josh: No, Jerri Blank.

Chuck: Oh. Yeah.

Josh: They're one in the same.

Chuck: Yeah. I love Amy Sedaris. I like the Sedarises.

Josh: She's great. Yeah.

Chuck: Some people don't.

Josh: Aren't they fighting?

Chuck: Oh, Amy and David?

Josh: Like a lot of-David and everybody else-

Chuck: Fighting?

Josh: -I think he wrote like some New Yorker article about his dead sister. Their sister, who I think-I can't remember what happened, but-

Chuck: Uh-huh.

Josh: -he wrote like a memoir about her in, I think, the New Yorker-

Chuck: They got mad?

Josh: -and the rest of his family like called him out on like the inconsistencies, and errors, and facts and-

Chuck: Maybe they were tired of it, because all he's done is write about his family.

Josh: Yeah. I guess they're like, "That's it, David, we're done."

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Yeah, no more? "Cut us in or we're going to cause big trouble for you."

Josh: [LAUGHS] I was about to do my David Sedaris impression.

Chuck: I thought about it for a second [LAUGHS].

Josh: Then I realized like I don't do a David Sedaris impression, so.

Chuck: I could, but, yeah-I'm not going to go there.

Josh: So limos.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: At least some of the Sedarises ride around in limousines.

Chuck: I bet they have.

Josh: And I can guarantee they have, because Chuck, it turns out the definition of a limousine is way broader than you would think.

Chuck: Yeah. Yeah, it doesn't necessarily mean some super stretch.

Josh: No, but it can.

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: Basically a limousine, technically, is any car with a roomier back seat than the average car. And if you throw in a driver, there's nobody who's going to say, "That's not a limo."

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: You can be like, "Yes, it is," and be right.

Chuck: Yeah. Like technically, if you want to hire a Town Car to take you to the airport-technically, that's a limousine.

Josh: Yeah, you know the car services in New York?

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: Those are limos.

Chuck: That's right. They have them here in Atlanta, too. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Do they have a car service here in Atlanta?

Chuck: Yeah, are you kidding me?

Josh: All I see are just the worst-oh, yes-yeah, yeah, yeah. Because there's a special tag.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Did you know that Atlanta taxi drivers are the worst taxi drivers on the planet? Have you noticed?

Chuck: From experience it's pretty bad, but I just Uber it now.

Josh: That's different.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: That's different than the taxis.

Chuck: Oh no, that's what I'm saying. That's why I Uber it, because they're different than the taxis.

Josh: Man, it's so bad.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Seriously, anybody who comes to Atlanta, if you make it out of Hartsfield, look around at the taxis and how they drive. Your mind will be scrambled.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: It's crazy.

Chuck: I think cabbies are kind of like that everywhere, though.

Josh: No, no. Like very frequently, they are the best drivers in the entire city. They know where they're going.

Chuck: Ehhhh.

Josh: They don't just meander, they don't like drift into lanes, they don't drive super slow.

Chuck: I've had the opposite experience.

Josh: Most cabs that I've been in, like the driver was pretty great.

Chuck: Usually when I'm in a cab in New York City, I wonder, "Is this the ride where we hit somebody or some other car?"

Josh: Yes, but you don't. And they're going really fast.

Chuck: Yeah?

Josh: In Atlanta, they drive ten miles an hour and hit everything.

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: They just side-swipe everything.

Chuck: Slow and lousy. Come to Atlanta. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: So anyway, we're talking limousines, man. Let's get back on track.

Chuck: Yeah, I should say, too, I hate limousines. Like I love a good Town Car ride to or from an airport.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: But as far as a stretch limousine, I just hate that whole thing.

Josh: Just a little kind of, "Hey look at me"?

Chuck: Oh, it's just dumb. It's longer and it's got a bar. It's just-I don't know, I think the whole thing is stupid, and like, just part of that whole narcissistic culture that I despise.

Josh: I gotcha.

Chuck: You know? I've got money so I want to be in a longer car with a TV in it. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Well, for a very long time if you wanted a TV in your car, or a phone, your car better be double the size of the normal version of it.

Chuck: All right. I just had to get on my soapbox. Like if it's for prom and you're all going in-like I get like a fun thing like that, but-or a Fur Bus. Renting a Fur Bus for your niece's birthday, like we did. That was fun.

Josh: What?

Chuck: You've never done that?

Josh: No, I thought you were saying we rented it for my niece's birthday.

Chuck: No, my niece's birthday. You weren't a part of it.

Josh: Oh.

Chuck: It was my family. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Yeah, I wasn't invited. Scott invited me.

Chuck: This was before I knew you, my friend. Anyway, I can see the fun of it occasionally, but just as a means of transportation, I think it's pretty obnoxious.

Josh: I gotcha.

Chuck: Especially those huge, huge, like Hummer stretches?

Josh: [LAUGHS] Yeah.

Chuck: I just want to like to dematerialize those with my eyes. I wish I could shoot a laser beam-

Josh: That would be pretty amazing.

Chuck: -and expose the people within. Just all of a sudden, they're on the street, with their bourbon and Coke, "Oh, what happened to my super-stretched Hummer?"

Josh: I wonder how you'd have to do that?

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: So like your laser beam eyes would have to just-just get like-

Chuck: I'd kill the people.

Josh: -fiberglass?

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Like destroy fiberglass and steel and upholstery?

Chuck: And rubber.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Yep. There you go.

Josh: So I think as we've stated, a limousine doesn't necessarily have to be what you hate.

Chuck: Yes.

Josh: It can also be just a car that's driven by somebody where you've got a roomy back seat for the passenger.

Chuck: Nice big trunk.

Josh: But even before that, even if you want to say, "Wow, that's a broad definition of limousine," man, let's go even further back and include clothing as a limousine-in the definition of limousines.

Chuck: That's right. Because I learned, as I imagine you did, the word "limousine," comes from a town in France called Limousin.

Josh: [LAUGHS] Or Limousin.

Chuck: We'd like to introduce our new Principal Skinner-Principal Seymour Skinner.

[LAUGHTER]

Josh: Yeah. That was a great one.

Chuck: That is one of the all-time greats. Yes, it was Limousin, without the E on the end. And like you said, the original limousine wasn't a car, it was a kind of like a little hooded raincoat that protected you.

Josh: Yeah, like little red riding hood wore a limousine.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: It was-yeah, a hooded cloak. And it was invented in Limousin, France, and it became synonymous with Limousin, France, because they called it a limousine.

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: So as people started building coaches that protected the rider, the passenger, from the elements, they were like, "Wow, this is kind of like a hooded cloak in a really, weird way."

Chuck: Yeah. A little bit of a stretch.

Josh: "Let's start calling these limousines."

Chuck: Yeah, even if it was a horse carriage, the idea that you were not driving this carriage and you had a nice, little comfy seat that's covered in the back, they called it a limousine.

Josh: And very frequently-probably all the time is a better way to put it-the driver himself wasn't covered.

Chuck: No.

Josh: Like there was just the passengers that were covered.

Chuck: No, you'll get rained on and like it.

Josh: [LAUGHS] Exactly. "If you complain, we'll put you on the rack."

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: "Driver."

Chuck: And this continued until they started building regular, as I think Jonathan Strickland wrote this, what he calls horseless carriages, very cheekily, AKA the automobile, and they called those limousines. And they started like very early on in New York City, they started-someone started a limousine service.

Josh: I think in the '20s.

Chuck: Yeah, 1920s is not too bad.

Josh: And these cars-the first-the earliest limousines were basically built from the ground up. Like you built a car with the intention of building like a stretch longer car-a limousine, as we understand it today.

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: And it might not be like a stretch sedan.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Some of the early limousines looked a lot like station wagons or like an old Model T station wagon. You know what I'm saying?

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: But very quickly, these companies figured out that it would be vastly easier to take an already manufactured car, and stretch it. Basically do a conversion.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: And that became the tradition for a very long time, I think starting in the '20s.

Chuck: Yeah, and luxury cars, obviously from the beginning, were the prime targets because this is what rich people were used to having their fannies sit upon while they were being driven around. So Mercedes Benz and Cadillacs and Fleetwoods and LeBarons were all prime candidates. Even the famed Bentley had a limousine, the Arnage, that they only made 20 of.

Josh: Did you look at that?

Chuck: It's pretty sweet. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: I've got to admit.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: For a non-limousine guy?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: I was like, "Oh, that's kind of nice."

Josh: That's a very nice car.

Chuck: You ever ridden in a Bentley for any reason?

Josh: No.

Chuck: I haven't either. Now you can get a Chrysler that looks like a Bentley.

Josh: Was that the 300?

Chuck: I don't know. I call-

Josh: I think it is the 300.

Chuck: I call them "Fentleys."

Josh: For some reason, John Varvatos had a 300 edition-limited edition.

Chuck: Who's that?

Josh: He's a clothing designer.

Chuck: Oh yeah?

Josh: And in the ad for his edition of the Chrysler 300, it's him and Iggy Pop just randomly-

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: Iggy Pop is in the ad with him. I guess they were giving wasted together that day that he had to film.

Chuck: Did he have his shirt off? Iggy?

Josh: Probably, I can't remember.

Chuck: Yeah. You don't see him with a shirt that much.

Josh: No.

Chuck: He's very proud of his wiry, muscular body.

Josh: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chuck: And I don't blame him. All right, I think we've wasted enough time.

Josh: [LAUGHS]

Chuck: So let's, right after this break, talk about that limo conversion, because to me, that's about the most interesting part of limousines.

[MUSIC]

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Chuck: All right. We're back and we were talking about limo conversion. Like you said, early on they used to build a limo to be a limo.

Josh: Yeah, like just some guy would build a car from the ground up, and he would build it extra long, and that's where the early limousines came from.

Chuck: Yeah. It was a company called Armbruster, in 1928. Were they Arkansas?

Josh: It was-I think they're American. They are American. I don't remember if it's in Arkansas or not, but it was actually-I found in a write-up on the company from like 1987. It says 1923 is when they build their first limousine.

Chuck: Oh really?

Josh: And that by at least 1926, they were doing conversions. Because there's a picture of an early stretch Buick that they made.

Chuck: And they realized that conversions was where it was at.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: Was take an existing car, cut it in half, and stick something in the middle of those two pieces.

Josh: Right, because somebody else is going to the trouble of building the engine, of designing like the dynamics of figuring out how to put the tires where and all that stuff.

Chuck: Why do all that?

Josh: Like-yeah. When you can just cut a car in half-

Chuck: Add more car. [LAUGHS]

Josh: -and yeah, add more car and then bam, you have a stretch limousine.

Chuck: I had no idea they did it this way.

Josh: No. When I read it the first time, I was like, "Surely he just made a horseless carriage joke. I know this must be a joke, as well." No. That's how a lot of limousines are made. And it's funny you bring up the 300-Chrysler 300-you said the one that looks like a Bentley. Because I saw, I guess, a test of one of them, that was-like Chrysler builds these 300 stretch limousines.

Chuck: Oh, they do?

Josh: Yeah. So if you see a Chrysler 300M Limousine, it was built by Chrysler most likely.

Chuck: Which is very unique these days, right?

Josh: Yes. Because for the most part, like you're saying, the industry standard is some company will get ahold of a Cadillac or a Lincoln Town Car, cut it in half like you say, and then add to it. And there's you're stretch limousine.

Chuck: Yeah. The process goes a little something like this. They strip-that sounded like I was going to sing it in a song.

[LAUGHTER]

Josh: And a one and a two.

Chuck: They strip all interior out, they protect everything that's in there, obviously. Strickland says they use fire-resistant paper on everything.

Josh: Yeah, which-okay.

Chuck: Sure. Why not? I guess you don't want it to catch on fire while you're doing it.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: You're going to mount it on a set of rails that can be adjusted, as to get your car off the ground, keep it all aligned properly, because when you're adding more car, you have to have it super aligned. And then they cut the thing in two pieces.

Josh: Yeah. And not lengthwise.

Chuck: No, no. That'd be weird. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: I guess you could make it a lot wider, but you're looking for length.

Chuck: Maybe that's the new limousine.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: Just like super wide.

Josh: It's super wide.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Apparently, the industry agrees that you typically can't go more than double the size-the original size of the car.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: After that, it's just probably not going to pass any safety tests. Which we'll talk about in a minute. But once the car is cut in half, hopefully, you remembered to put the car on these rails that elevate it, and that some of the rails are attached to a dolly so you can separate the car to the length you want. If not, you have to basically throw it away and start over. [LAUGHTER] But so, if you pull one-usually the rear back from the front-and then you go and add rails-basically, the extenders that are going to lengthen the car.

Chuck: That's right. And like I said, your car is temporarily braced to keep it from twisting or moving around.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: Because you want it like to be super exact, obviously. Because if the front of your car is a half inch to the right from the rear of your car-

Josh: [LAUGHS] That's bad.

Chuck: -you're in big trouble.

Josh: Then you're going to add what's called the floor plan-or floor pan-sorry-and it's basically the floor of the limo, which will later on become carpeted and upholstered and everything, but for the time being, it's just a piece of metal that is the floor of your new addition.

Chuck: Yeah, and that is after you have done all the other boring stuff like extending the driveline and making sure you have-because, you know your wiring is not long enough-nothing is long enough. And you just have to-

Josh: No, because you just cut it in half, and now there's a huge gap.

Chuck: You literally just have to extend all those parts.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: You know, the brake line, and all that boring stuff. You have to just extend all that stuff.

Josh: Yeah. I got excited about the floor pan and jumped ahead.

Chuck: No, that's right. You stick in your floor pan and then you-

Josh: Well, hold on, I want to say something about the floor pan and the driveline.

Chuck: Okay.

Josh: So you've extended the powertrain.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Right? The thing that-that big thing that like powers the back wheels.

Chuck: That no one knows what it is?

Josh: Right.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: But you've extended that thing.

Chuck: Yeah, you're just hear like powertrain warranty, and people are always like, "What in the world is a powertrain?"

Josh: That's like the steering and the axles and the thing that spins around and spins your rear axle and all that; that's your powertrain. It's true. So you have to add to that because you've just cut through it again.

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: And then you add the floor pan, which is the floor of the limousine.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: And do you remember that limousine fire from, I think, last year-a couple years ago?

Chuck: Oh, they were stuck inside.

Josh: It killed the bride-to-be-

Chuck: Yeah. God.

Josh: -on the San Mateo Bridge.

Chuck: Awful.

Josh: Apparently, the California Highway Patrol investigated it, and ruled it an accident, but it was because the floor pan of the limousine that had been added later, was up against the drivetrain, and the friction-

Chuck: No way.

Josh: -created enough heat and spark that apparently, there's a crack in the floor pan and that heat came up and caught the upholstery on fire. And that's where the fire came from.

Chuck: Wow.

Josh: Was from this modification that had taken place years before.

Chuck: Well, which is one reason why Cadillac doesn't want their name on that limo, let's say, because it has been modified by someone other than Cadillac.

Josh: Right. But Cadillac's name is still on the limo. As far as the U.S. government is concerned, once you cut a car in half and extend it, you're the new manufacturer.

Chuck: Yeah, totally.

Josh: Cadillac says, "Well, that's great, we've got a bunch of yahoos running around cutting our cars in half, making them longer, but if somebody sees it on the road or somebody sees a photo of it with the truck burned out"-

Chuck: Yeah. "Our name is still on it."

Josh: They see the "Cadillac." So Cadillac and other companies, like Ford, have programs to basically certify, train, and go back and investigate the people who are doing these conversions.

Chuck: Yeah, because we didn't mention, but when you make a car substantially longer and heavier, you might have to modify the brakes some, you might have to modify how it turns, you might have to reinforce the suspension or the frame itself-because you can't just make a car 12 feet longer and expect it to behave the same way.

Josh: Right, exactly. Like, the original stopping power was for the 12-foot car, not the 24-foot car. So you do have to do some modifications.

Chuck: Yeah, but those companies are super smart to have official programs, I think. Because every car, even if it is modified later, has to, to be roadworthy, it has to pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Josh: That's right. Cadillac's program is called the Cadillac Master Coachbuilder program. It's pretty awesome.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Ford has something called the Qualified Vehicle Modifier program. And so basically, they're saying, "Hey, if you're going to be doing this and you can legally do this, we're going to make sure you do it right."

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: And guess what time it is?

Chuck: Time to get in our limo?

Josh: Not yet. It's time for a message break.

[MUSIC]

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[MUSIC]

Chuck: All right. So we mentioned that the limo, generally speaking, even though they've gotten ridiculous these days, shouldn't be more than twice as long as it originally was.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: And since you can't get that much longer, what you can do is if you want to impress people and get their business, is trick it out on the interior as much as possible.

Josh: Yes.

Chuck: With-you name it, man-and they've got it.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: To plasma TVs, and hot tubs and bars, and sound systems, and like-anything you can think of. It's littered with neon and tacky things. [LAUGHTER] In my opinion.

Josh: Tacky is the right word, I think.

Chuck: Yeah. Not for me.

Josh: Did you see-if you go to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum in Branson-

Chuck: Have they been there?

Josh: No, I saw a picture.

Chuck: Oh. I was about to say. [LAUGHS]

Josh: I want to go Branson someday before I die.

Chuck: I'm sure you do.

Josh: Yakov Smirnoff has his own place there.

Chuck: I know. Yeah.

Josh: I'm going.

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: Umi is going to take me.

Chuck: I'm surprised that hasn't happened already, to be quite honest.

Josh: [LAUGHS] I'm kind of, too, yeah. We've been going other places. But in Branson, there's a 30-foot 1982 pink Cadillac stretch limousine that has a heart-shaped hot tub in the trunk area.

Chuck: That also has Josh's 40th birthday written all over it. [LAUGHTER] This might be a good time to go.

Josh: Maybe 40th birthday present would be the limo itself.

Chuck: Oh, like to own it?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Yeah. Just drive around Atlanta.

Josh: That'd be awesome. You could drive around anywhere. You could drive around Branson and it'd be fine. You've got like a hot tub in your car.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] I love how Strickland also points out-I don't know when this was written-most limos also have telephones installed. In case all 14 of your cell phones are broken. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: I made note of that, as well.

Chuck: All right. There are some other considerations if you want to drive a limo. Because you can be a private person and drive a limo. Just like hire yourself out, or go work for some rich person.

Josh: Oh, I thought you meant like the kind of person who keeps to himself or herself.

Chuck: No, no, no. I mean, you don't have to necessarily work for a limousine company.

Josh: I gotcha.

Chuck: You can just buy your limo and say, "I'm Chuck the limo driver."

Josh: Right.

Chuck: You know? Or I want to work for-

Josh: As long as you have the proper hat-

Chuck: That's right. [LAUGHS]

Josh: -you're fine.

Chuck: And call yourself Bitterman.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Licensing, it depends on what state you're in, it depends wildly-some states you can-don't need any kind of special license.

Josh: Some states just say, "Fill out this form."

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: And probably, "Give us 50 bucks."

Chuck: Some say bring your limo and-although, how would you do that if you're not licensed?

Josh: I guess tow truck.

Chuck: Yeah. Get your limo here and take this test in your limo to make sure you can drive that behemoth.

Josh: Blindfolded.

Chuck: Blindfolded?

Josh: It's part of the test.

Chuck: So it all depends on what state you live in. Safety standards are the same for any other car, like we said.

Josh: Yeah, and the car that you bought to convert, already-before you ever bought it-went through the safety tests.

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: But now that you've converted it, it has to go through safety tests again.

Chuck: Right.

Josh: So they include things like crash tests, and if you're interested in that, there's limo crash tests on YouTube.

Chuck: Oh, really?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Does it show rich people inside? Like with their drinks flying around?

[LAUGHTER]

Josh: Man.

Chuck: What?

Josh: You're not down with the one percent, are you?

Chuck: No, I just think a crash test dummy in an evening gown might look funny. [LAUGHS]

Josh: That's so funny you say that, because one of the ones-I guess it's some-there was an Australian Fifth Gear, maybe it seemed like?

Chuck: I don't know.

Josh: It was pretty cheeky. They were clearly drunk on the show, but it was like-it was a limo crash test, and they put their clothes-their evening gown and tux on crash test dummies. So, I mean-

Chuck: Wow.

Josh: Yeah, you have to-look up Fifth Gear limo-I guess limo crash test is what would bring it up.

Chuck: Huh.

Josh: And yeah, they're clearly drunk. Because they spend the first like three minutes drinking and then mooning people out of the limo.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] What?

Josh: And I'm like, "What? Where's this thing from?" And I saw it was Australian.

Chuck: Oh, those wacky Aussies.

Josh: But it's a pretty cool crash test, because they have some great cameras set up. And like they don't put seatbelts on the dummies.

Chuck: Uh-huh. So they're just flying around?

Josh: Yeah, it's a pretty neat crash test.

Chuck: I do need to see that, because that's exactly what I was describing.

Josh: And there's another crash test, too. Way more boring. It's just basically a series of still photos, which I guess you can make the case like that's what all videos are, but-

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: -this is like really slow still photos.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] And hey, listen. I don't want to-we always say do what you want to do, I'm not going to pooh-pooh if you want to go out and hire a limo and-with your friends, and drive around and get drunk and go to a bunch of bars. That's fine. You know? It's just not-don't expect me to get in the car. Although, I would say, the Wine Country limo is not a bad idea.

Josh: Do they have those?

Chuck: Oh, sure. Yeah. In fact, I think people in Wine Country aren't too happy about them. You know?

Josh: Oh, because it's like a party bus kind of thing?

Chuck: Yeah, basically. Like it's-

Josh: Well, hey man, if you like have wine tastings every five feet, what do you expect?

Chuck: I know. Yeah.

Josh: Everybody there seems very cool.

Chuck: Because you don't want to drink and drive.

Josh: We went when it was-it was the off-season. So I'll bet everybody was a little more mellow.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Because there weren't a bunch of tourists around.

Chuck: Oh, yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: No, but you're right. The people that live in Wine Country, Northern California, they're a nice, laid-back lot.

Josh: [LAUGHS] They are fairly laid-back, I think is a good way to put it.

Chuck: Because they have the best job in the world.

Josh: We have the best job in the world.

Chuck: That's right. If we only made wine.

Josh: [LAUGHS] I've got some going in the toilet.

Chuck: Some pruno?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Gas mileage is a big consideration because you're not going to get good gas mileage at all. And you may, as a company or an individual, have to pay an extra gas guzzler tax on each vehicle in your fleet, on top of that.

Josh: It's basically like-you know how you pay a lot of money for gas? Well, now you have to pay even more money. Because you're thing uses up so much gas.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Although Strickland mentions a 32-foot stretch Hummer limo that a guy named Shaun Murphy-he misspelled his own name-on the Cool Fuel Road Trip-he used a-he drove a Hummer limousine that ran on a bunch of different alternative fuels.

Chuck: Oh cool.

Josh: Like biodiesel, methane, ethanol, vegetable oil, sugar.

Chuck: Wow.

Josh: It could also use geothermal, solar, and wind energy. And he got the limo up to 75 miles an hour. Which sounds illegal to me.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: You should not be driving a 32-foot anything 75 miles an hour.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] I agree. If you are interested in owning your own limousine, to be your own private little driver, it depends on what kind you get, of course-you may can get one like a Lincoln stretch for 30 to 40 grand?

Josh: Sure.

Chuck: Or you may pay $300,000 if you want that super-stretched Hummer with a hot tub.

Josh: I have the impression that that 30 grand Lincoln stretch, like the hubcaps come off when you take corners and stuff like that.

Chuck: You think so?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: And I also bet that the 1 of 20 Bentleys go for way more than 300 k each.

Chuck: Do you ever see someone driving around in an old limo?

Josh: Uh-huh.

Chuck: It's clear it's just their car?

Josh: Right.

Chuck: It's like a 1972 Caddy limo.

Josh: Yeah, yeah.

Chuck: That's pretty sweet.

Josh: It is sweet, but at the same time, it's like, that's a really poor choice.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Especially if like you're on a tight budget. [LAUGHS]

Chuck: Right. Like you live in a city with tight streets, and-

Josh: How much money do you spend on gas? You know?

Chuck: Yeah. That's true.

Josh: That's what I shout to them out the window whenever I pass someone like that.

Chuck: Should we talk about presidential limousines a little bit?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Because I think those are kind of interesting. They call it the Secret Seven in this great-was it Popular Mechanics article?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: In 1939, the Sunshine Special, and up until this point, I think, standard automobiles had been used to drive presidents around and shuttle them. But in 1939, they said, "We need something for the Secret Service, and we have a president in a wheelchair that-his name is Roosevelt-and he has certain considerations."

Josh: Yeah. Right. Plus at least one attempt has been made on his life already.

Chuck: So we might want to think about adding a little more security to these cars.

Josh: Yep.

Chuck: And that's exactly what they did. It was armored-the body was armored. It was built by coachbuilders in Buffalo, New York. It had oversized, hinged doors, I guess to account for that enormous wheelchair that they had back then. And lots of armor plating and even bulletproof glass in 1939, which is kind of impressive.

Josh: Yeah. It looks like Al Capone's car, if you ask me.

Chuck: It's pretty sweet.

Josh: Then there's the 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: This was awesome. It was a Truman presidential limousine. And it was-basically, for every-with every new limousine that came along, there were new innovations. It became heavier and more armor-plated and just safer. This one came with a bubble top. Because it was a convertible, but Truman realized that like, if he had the top up when it was super safe, no one could see him.

Chuck: Right.

Josh: So he had the bubble top installed. Kind of like the Popemobile.

Chuck: Yeah that's what I was going to say, is that what it's like?

Josh: I think so.

Chuck: All right. And that one was retired to the Henry Ford Museum, as was the Sunshine Special in Dearborn, Michigan. So if you've ever been there, you've probably seen a few of these on display. Kennedy's famous car that he was in on November 22, 1963, when he was assassinated, was a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible, obviously. But it was still safe. Not with the top down, obviously, but they had certain safety features built in. They had a rear seat that was-well, this wasn't a safety feature, but it had a rear seat that could be raised and lowered, to give people a better view. It had a metal hoop behind the driver's seat, so when the president is standing up, they can hold onto something.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: But it was armored after his assassination, with a permanent bulletproof hard top, and then, left in the fleet, which really surprised me.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: I would've thought they would've completely retired that car.

Josh: Or just given it to a museum, or destroyed it or something. But yeah, leaving it in the fleet, that's penny-pinching.

Chuck: Yeah. And that is in the Henry Ford Museum now, as well.

Josh: I'll bet.

Chuck: In 1972, the Lincoln Continental that President Ford and Reagan-the same car that they were both shuttled into after assassination attempts, famously.

Josh: Yeah. This is the limousine that reminds me of like old Times Square in New York.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: Like where Basket Case was set. You know?

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Right. I never saw that.

Josh: It's worth seeing at least once just to say you saw Basket Case.

Chuck: Right.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Old, seedy Times Square?

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: I got just a taste of that when I first started going to New York in the '90s.

Josh: Uh-huh.

Chuck: Just there were still some peepshows and stuff around. And it was just starting to be like Disney-fied, as they'd said.

Josh: I missed it entirely.

Chuck: Eh, you didn't miss much.

Josh: But man alive, you can go to Red Lobster there now.

Chuck: I know. It's funny how people pine like, "Remember when it was crappy and there was crime and drugs and prostitution everywhere?"

Josh: Who says that?

Chuck: Oh, dude, New Yorkers.

Josh: I mean, I can understand being like, yes, this corporate stuff is just dumb or whatever, but-

Chuck: People are very nostalgic for old, crappy Times Square.

Josh: Huh.

Chuck: Yeah. The 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood was used in the early 1980s. And that one-one of those-there was a pair of them-was used in the movie In the Line of Fire, with Clint Eastwood.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Pretty neat.

Josh: Remember he played the guy who didn't get to Kennedy in time when he was assassinated. It haunted him.

Chuck: Oh, is that his backstory?

Josh: Yeah, and John Malkovich was like a total weirdo.

Chuck: Sure. He was trying to kill the president, right?

Josh: Assassin. Who used a wooden gun.

Chuck: I don't remember that.

Josh: I remember a lot about that movie for some reason.

Chuck: Yeah, that's a lot of detail, Josh.

Josh: Then there's the Bush era, Cadillac DeVille. Which is-I mean, I associate that with Bush now that I'm looking at it.

Chuck: Yeah, it was a GM-oh, I'm sorry-it was a Cadillac DeVille, of course, but it was built on the frame of a GM SUV, supposedly.

Josh: Smart.

Chuck: Yeah. Five-inch-thick armored doors. Bulletproof glass so thick it blocks out parts of the light spectrum, apparently.

Josh: [LAUGHS] So everything looks blue-

Chuck: Yeah, maybe.

Josh: -from the inside. And you go insane.

Chuck: And it was rumored to feature a-what they called a self-contained passenger compartment with its own secure air supply.

Josh: Cool.

Chuck: So I guess just like a chamber to hide someone in, inside there?

Josh: Mm-hmm.

Chuck: Crazy.

Josh: And then lastly, Chuck, the most recent one came out in 2009, and it's a Cadillac, too. And it came out, I guess, just in time for Obama's inauguration.

Chuck: Yeah, and this one, they started to be a lot more secretive about-

Josh: Like how they're made?

Chuck: Yeah, exactly.

Josh: Makes sense.

Chuck: But they had pretty good speculation that, you know, it's armored-plated underneath, all around. They think it's diesel-powered, but they don't know for sure. And good luck, like this thing is like a tank on wheels. Good luck penetrating that Cadillac.

Josh: Yes.

Chuck: You know?

Josh: So there's one other thing I want to point out. If you're into limos, especially extreme limos, there's another Popular Mechanics article called "Stretch it Out: 10 Extreme Limos," that you sent.

Chuck: Yeah like Lamborghinis and stuff?

Josh: Yeah, Lamborghinis, monster trucks-and I looked it up, apparently there's a lot of monster truck limos.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: I also found online, a DeLorean limo.

Chuck: Oh wow.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: I'd like to see that.

Josh: Yeah. It's worth looking at. There's a semi limo.

Chuck: Yeah, that one is basically like a large apartment on wheels.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Like you can have a party for 50 people, there's multiple bars.

Josh: Did you see inside?

Chuck: Uh-uh.

Josh: It looks like an Applebee's on wheels.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Oh, is it a fern bar?

Josh: Yeah, there's a lot of like polished brass railings and like the carpeting-

Chuck: Oh, wow.

Josh: -and the upholstery. It looks like an Applebee's. It's very strange.

Chuck: Well, you can't account for good taste.

Josh: It looks pretty sweet, though.

Chuck: Yeah?

Josh: I'm sure that anybody who-there's like three different lounges in there.

Chuck: Wow.

Josh: Three.

Chuck: That's a lot of lounges.

Josh: And then a Mexican company converted a-I think a 747? No, a 727 into a limo. They took the wings off.

Chuck: There are TV shows out there that you can view all these things-extreme everything, you know.

Josh: Oh, I'm sure there's also TV shows about the people who repo them, too.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Yeah. Right.

Josh: So if you want to know about limos, you can start by typing that word in the search bar at HowStuffWorks.com. And since I said that, it's time for listener mail.

[CHIMES]

Chuck: I'm going to call this "Funny Homeless Story," if there is such a thing. April has been working in New York City, but I gather that she is in Atlanta and she's just there for work for a period of time.

Josh: "Dear Josh and Chuck, I miss the old Times Square."

Chuck: [LAUGHS] She did say that. No, I'm kidding. She talks about how she listens to us on the train there on her commute in New York City, and she feels really bad for homeless people, but especially, when she sees a homeless person with a dog. She says after passing several homeless people in New York, people/dog combos, "This weekend, my grand plan was to stop at a pet store and get some dog food and treats and have cash available for the next homeless pair, so I could help out and hopefully, have a conversation with them to make them feel human for a little bit." This is-April, you're awesome, by the way.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: "I bought my supplies and two blocks from the store, I see a homeless man with a Husky, and I think, 'Perfect.' One of my dogs is a Husky, so I'm partial to them. After having a five-minute conversation with Michael, petting his dog, giving him dog food and some money for a nice meal, I get ready to leave and as I'm about to walk away, he said thanks for the dog food, but it's not my dog. I'm just watching it for someone in the building." [LAUGHTER] Awkward. "I ultimately asked if the dog had a home and food, he said yes. So I asked if I could take the dog food back so I could give it to a dog in need. He agreed, and hopefully, he was able to get a nice meal himself and appreciated my conversation and didn't think I was too crazy. I then went on to walk 30 blocks to my hotel, with a relatively heavy bag of dog food, without seeing another homeless pet. Good thing, because I didn't have any more cash for the person and it would probably would've been weird to give a person dog food, but nothing to help him or her. Me and my bag of food will be walking around various New York City neighborhoods this weekend, though, because now it is my mission to help someone out. It's been a good, little reminder for me to be thankful for what I have. Especially as we approach winter up here." And that is from April Cummings.

Josh: That is very nice of you, April.

Chuck: Very cool. I hope you find a homeless dog, in person, that you can help out.

Josh: Yeah. If you want to share a story about how you're making the world a better place, we want to hear about it. You can tweet it to us @SYSKPodcast, you can join us on Facebook.com/StuffYouShouldKnow, you can send us an email to Stuffpodcast@HowStuffWorks.com, and as always, join us at our home on the web, StuffYouShouldKnow.com.

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Vo: For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com.

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