Limousine Design: Modification and Customization
It is not uncommon to spot a limo in your daily routine; yet when you do, they somehow always grab your attention. Associated with money, power, fame, luxury, wealth, and opulence– limousines have become one of the ultimate status symbols. They are also a technological marvel packed with the latest and greatest in lighting, custom sound systems, flat screen video system, fog machines, bars and more. Yet, have you ever wondered just how limousines are created?
Limousines all start out as a regular sized vehicle, with countless hours of modification and fabrication put into them to make them the beasts you see roaming the streets. While almost any vehicle can be turned into a stretch limousine, the most common vehicles include Lincolns, Cadillac, and SUV’s. Although the company is now defunct, one of the most popular SUV vehicles in the mid-late 2000s is the Hummer H2, which was built from 2002-2009. A Hummer H2 Limo, can fit over 20 people and rivals a party bus in terms of capacity.
Once the vehicle arrives at the fabrication shop, the outfitting company begins by stripping the vehicle of anything that won’t be used and protecting all components that will remain in the vehicle.
Once the vehicle is stripped of the unnecessary components, the frame cutting begins. The car is positioned on a frame rail to ensure that the vehicle remains in alignment once the sections are cut. Believe it or not, there is not a special tool used for cutting the limo in half. Rather, Sawz-Alls equipped with metal cutting blades are used to cut the frame.
Once the frame is cut into two halves, the sections are slide apart from each other on the frame and support beams are welded into place at the bottom of the frame sections to hold the limousine together. These beams are made of high-strength industrial steel as they will be subjected to a lot of stress and pressure during use.
Limousines can be stretched anywhere from 10 feet to as much as 40 feet for party limousines. No matter what length they are stretched to, the limo must be built to pass all safety and inspection laws that a regular vehicle is subject to in order to be considered road worthy.
Once the pieces are connected by the steel beams at the bottom, mechanics will use as many as 20 high strength to construct the frame. Leveling strings are used to ensure the bars are straight, and the then the bars are welded into place. This is especially important because if the limousine is not completely straight it will not drive in a straight line and will never have correct alignment.
Once the bars are welded into place, construction of the limousine floor begins. Vertical side bars are also installed which must also be aligned perfectly to ensure that the doors shut correctly and that the vehicle holds true without bending or flexing during vehicle travel. Once everything is welded into place body panels are fitted onto the vehicle with a fresh coat of paint and wax.
Due to the extra weight and size of limousines compared to a regular car, it is also necessary to upgrade other components such as the brakes and suspension. For the braking, larger discs are fitted to help the limo stop in a timely manner. Once this is completed, heavy duty springs are installed which are capable of supporting much heavier loads than the springs installed by the vehicle manufacturer. The bigger the limo, the tougher the suspension needs to be.
The next step is to install the windows onto the limousine. The windows are typically made out of a very long plate of glass which can take several people to carry. On some extremely long limousines, multiple pieces of glass may be used or even plexiglass due to the possibility of the glass cracking. Once this is completed, it is time to begin working on the interior.
The first step of the interior is to begin working on the floor. Less extreme limos are typically fitted with high quality carpet, similar to what would have been found in the vehicle from the factory. However, due to the ease of cleaning, many large limousines and party buses are fitted with wood flooring.
Once the flooring is complete, work begins on the upholstery. Most frequently, the factory seating is sold and custom seating is installed in its place. Due to the fact that most limos are outfitted with bars in the middle, bar-style custom seating is upholstered and custom-made for each vehicle. Once upholstered, the seating is then hand-installed. Once the seating is in place, the bar is also installed by hand. On models with hardwood flooring, the floor is typically pre-cut so that the bar can be set into place.
Due to the increased number of electronics being ran within a limo, they are often outfitted with two alternators and batteries to keep up with the increased power demand. Despite their size, many limousines are still gasoline powered, with the largest SUV limos averaging anywhere from