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How the use of chauffeur driven limousines has changed over the past few decades.

Years ago, the use of a chauffeur driven limousine was a great signifier for wealth and prestige.   Classic car makers, such as Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Bentley bore the hallmarks for class, elegance and ensured that people were left with the impression that the person being chauffeured was a force to be reckoned with.

Many 1980s films showed the chauffeur driven limousine as a signifier of power and wealth.  For example, Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman had a chauffeur and a limousine, and only found trouble when driving himself through Beverly Hills in a friend’s car.

As the years have progressed, the chauffeur driven limousine became a thing of the past.  Many people would hire a limousine for a wedding, or other event but it became more and more rare.

However, at the turn of the millennium, the chauffeur driven limousine suddenly became popular again.  This time around, it became a much more populist past time, and rather than the elegance of the past, groups of men and women became able to hire a limousine for an evening to drive them around the centre of their town.

These ‘party limousines’ soon became to be seen as quite tacky.  They often involved copious amount of alcohol on board, as well as loud music and girls in scantily clad outfits.

Soon, these limousines became bigger, and the stretch limousine and the Hummer limousine became an extremely popular form of transport for these women to parade around their town centre in.

However, it is important that a clear distinction is made between this type of limousine, and what is still available.  The right car or limousine can still signify great power and wealth.

Take for example, Lord Alan Sugar.  At the beginning of each episode of The Apprentice, he is shown in his Rolls Royce, with the personalised number plate ‘AMS1’.  This is done to signify the fact that Lord Sugar is an extremely wealthy man, in charge of multi-national, global businesses.  This is something that the audience already knows about Lord Sugar.  However, the use of the chauffeur driven Rolls Royce compounds this impression for the viewer.

Similarly, in the hugely popular ‘Sex and the City’ TV series and films, one of the main characters ‘Mr Big’, makes his way around global cities such as New York and Paris in a chauffeur driven limousine.  Throughout the series and films, it is not completely clear what Mr Big does for a living, and it is never explicitly told to the viewer.  However, the audience knows that Mr Big must be a man of power and wealth, given that he adopts this mode of transport.

Article written by Chloe Matravers, commentator and expert in London limousine hire London.