Limousine Werks - 1984-1994 - Chicago, Illinois


Another successful Moloney offshoot was Limousine Werks (LW). Started in 1984, LW was to become the largest builder of Cadillac limousines in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Founder Matt Baines grew up with cars, racing street machines in Chicago during high school. In the 1970s, he joined the Moloney operation as a salesman and worked his way upward to vice presi­dent of sales. There and later with LW, Baines was careful to develop strong relationships with car dealerships across the nation. Baines also pioneered the company's cultivation of the burgeoning livery trade, including selling to Fugazy Continental, one of the first operators to bring stretch limousines to New York City.

At LW, Baines worked closely with Detroit. He put those networks to good use with the development of various promotional, show, and concept cars. In 1991, when Buick prepared to re-launch the Roadmaster after a quarter-century sabbatical, Baines made the intro­duction a splash. The first car off the line, serial num­ber one, was sent to L Wand converted into a limousine. Buick dealers were thrilled. This and other projects helped LW maintain strong sales while the rest of the industry was pulling back during the early 1990s recession. When Chrysler's Lee Iacocca asked General Motors to recommend a good builder, the call was placed to Baines, who built eight Chrysler stretches for the opening of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

A 1989 Cadillac Limousine Concept Car. In response to the request from Cadillac to stretch a De Ville for an upcoming auto show, coachbuilder Matt Baines replied, "But that's in 25 days!" The Cadillac man­ager replied without humor, "You told me you could do anything. " Reputation and business were salvaged when Baines' Limousine Werks stretched the limousine in 24 days. At the show, everybody loved it. (Courtesy of Matt Baines, Commercial Vehicle Center, Oak Grove Village, Illinois)

Baines says he most enjoys the one-off projects, the individual custom car which, he explains, was the impetus behind the stretch limousine. While Cadillac sold factory limousines to dealers, "the customers were getting more sophisticated," he says. LW was always directed toward the custom car and personalized cus­tomer service. When a client complained of no place to lay his pipe, Baines had a special rack worked up. Another had a particular interest in gadgets and toys. This client, a six-year-old singing phenomenon, wanted "a complete media center," says Baines. "It had 20 speakers and was like someone's living room." For Baines, these are the inspirations and challenges that make the business a joy. Baines sold LW in 1994 to his old employer, Earl Moloney. Today Baines remains in the limousine business with both his enthusiasm and the Commercial Vehicle Center of Oak Grove Village, Illinois, a major limousine distributor.





For more information please read:

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists ISBN 8096897403

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The story of the Limousine


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