Welcome to our eulogy for the stretch limousine. (Dims lights, cues “The Long and Winding Road.”)

Once the ultimate status symbol — even if just for a one-night rental — society has evolved beyond the stretch limo. The National Limousine Association says they comprise less than 1% of limo company services today, down from 10% a decade ago.

RIP, but why?

There are a few culprits for the stretch limo’s demise, per The New York Times:

  • The Great Recession rocked the primary client base and changed their spending habits.
  • Coming out of the recession, affordable chauffeur services expanded in the form of Uber and Lyft.
  • Two prominent deadly crashes, in 2015 and 2018, soured public opinion and led to stiffer regulations.

To that, we’ll add: the internet happened.

  • Attention was at a greater premium pre-social media and the limo was a reliable eyeball magnet — when one pulled up, most passersby craned their necks to see who was inside.
  • Now adulation is available on demand — and not at the cost of easily navigating cities. Enter the inconspicuous black SUV, the new standard in luxury transport.

Limos’ future as a novelty act

It’ll be interesting to see how stretch limos fare with Gen Z. For a generation that runs on surprise, they may be too cliche.

  • Kids in Portland, Oregon, set a new standard last weekend, arriving at prom in a rented World War II tank.

But even if there’s just one prominent limo left in the end, it’ll be a badass one — US presidential limo “The Beast” isn’t going anywhere.

BTW: It’d be hard to de-stretch The Beast, a veritable Bond car full of weaponry and gadgetry, which requires space for a fridge carrying a supply of the sitting president’s blood type. Yes, really.


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