The roots of the modern day limo lie in the creation of horse-drawn carriages that had a partition between the driver and his passengers, where the passengers rode in privacy and luxury.
There were first sedan chairs upon which the upper crust sat and four brawny men suspended them in the air while transporting them to their destination. Eventually, the four men were replaced with wheels and they were pulled with a team of horses. With open carriages, travel was an impersonal, dusty, and dirty process. As carriages became more elaborate, royalty and the elite wanted a more sophisticated mode of transportation that also signified their rank or social standing in society. Courts of other European capitals followed “la mode francaise”. In Limousin, France, the shepherds wore hooded black cloaks in the fields. Drivers of the horse-drawn carriages adopted this cloak to protect them from the elements as well. Hence, the term limousine was created to refer to these elegant carriages transported by men wearing a “limousin”, as the cloak had become known. It became the preferred mode of transportation by distinguished society across Europe.
In 1886, Karl Benz invented the first automobile with a combustible engine. Other auto makers began rallying to invent the first automobile limousines. In 1902, the first limousines were introduced where the driver sat outside in a covered compartment and the passengers sat in an enclosed body with privacy and protection. The 1908 Studebaker – Garford B remains the iconic limo of that era. By 1938, Swing music was most popular. Musicians, such as Big Band leader Benny Goodman, traveled the country with their band members in what became known as the first stretch limos. They were also nicknamed “big band buses” because they transported luminaries such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and their respective entourages. Then Hollywood caught the limousine fever and were widely adopted by the movie industry. Once reserved for aristocracy and the wealthy, the modern day limo is far more available to the public.