James Rup­pert

You re­ally don’t need to be loaded to buy your­self a limou­sine

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

Lounge in a limo for very lit­tle loot

I've just in­vented au­ton­omy Level 6: chauf­feur level

Cars with the abil­ity to drive them­selves haven’t fil­tered down into the used car realm I in­habit. So it isn’t sur­pris­ing that it has taken me a while to get my head around the lev­els of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing, as de­vised by the So­ci­ety of Au­to­mo­tive En­gi­neers.

On th­ese pages, we are re­ally only in­ter­ested in Level 0, which is a car with no hint of driver as­sis­tance what­so­ever. We re­main fairly ag­nos­tic when it comes to cruise con­trol, al­though we have to ad­mit that anti-lock brak­ing can do a job and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol has its mo­ments.

We could live with Level 1 au­ton­omy, which re­lates to driver as­sis­tance func­tions that don’t have to be used. Level 2 means au­to­mated sys­tems such as adap­tive cruise con­trol and lane keep­ing as­sist but, again, they don’t have to be switched on.

The lev­els be­yond that just get in­creas­ingly more dull in my opin­ion, al­though I’ve just in­vented Level 6: chauf­feur level. This is where we look at sec­ond-hand lim­ou­sines in which you can choose to drive or be driven.

The great thing about used limos is that they can be cheap. I found my­self look­ing on­line at a Vaux­hall Omega States­man Cor­po­rate 3.0i au­to­matic. This one has been over­hauled for use by a funeral di­rec­tor so it has six doors and a roof rack for flo­ral ad­di­tions. Omegas are cool again and this one has eight seats. All for £1850. It has done just 58,000 miles and is on a 1998/R-plate. Im­mac­u­late, ob­vi­ously, and rather black. The only 1990s saloon that’s more de­sir­able might just be a Volvo 760. A 1997 3.0 FS with six doors and eight seats at £1995. There is lots of leather go­ing on inside and, as an alt-mpv for an ex­tended fam­ily, it makes some sort of sense. Al­ter­na­tively, there is a Mercedes-benz E-class spin on this, but no chrome roof rack. I found a Cole­man E240 Clas­sic. The de­scrip­tion said four doors, but I counted six. It is a 2000 ex­am­ple and didn’t seem rusty so maybe £2650 is rea­son­able money.

Just to prove that not ev­ery limo needs six doors, th­ese sorts of searches throw up a proper odd­ball in the shape of a Chevro­let As­tro van – not so much a limo as a Yan­kee day van. The sell­ers claimed it as a 2006, but that must have been the im­port date. It seems to have an elec­tric bed, Playsta­tion 2 and DVD, so there is a proper in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that makes it bet­ter than any limo, and £2800 seems like a laugh.

Rather than go up into the rar­efied Rolls-royce Phan­tom at­mos­phere for limo life, it can be sam­pled much lower down the scale. The money you save can be spent on one of those au­ton­o­mous driv­ing sys­tems: that’s what we used to call a chauf­feur…

A Chevy As­tro, an elec­tric bed and a PS2, all for £2800

Eight-seat Omega for just £1850 is a deal to die for

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