Greg Washburn was watching the most recent James Bond movie when he realized that he and the super spy share an interest in vintage limos.
“At one point, he and this woman get picked up in the desert, and she goes, ‘What kind of car is this?’ ” Washburn says. “He says, ‘It’s a ’52 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith,’ and I’m like, ‘That’s my car!’ ”
Actually, Bond identifies the car as a 1948 Silver Wraith in “Spectre,” but who can blame Washburn for being too excited to catch every detail?
A ’52 Silver Wraith is one of two vintage limousines he acquired and restored to launch BeSpoke Limousine Services.
“I just love classic cars,” said Washburn, whose regular ride is a Maserati. “I’m a car guy. I noticed that Wichita didn’t have this service and most other cities do. It’s just a nice niche to fill.”
Washburn’s other limo is a 1962 Bentley S2. Both cars are “touring limousines,” manufactured for “rich people who had chauffeurs driving them around,” he said.
Although slightly longer than a regular automobile, they’re nothing like the stretch limousines that can carry a small crowd.
“They’re made for two or three people in the back,” he said of his limos. “They look like a regular car on the outside.”
Inside, though, they have old-fashioned wood-and-glass limousine partitions that drivers use to communicate with their passengers and other plush features. Their size makes them ideal for weddings, anniversaries and other special events that couples celebrate – or at least Washburn hopes.
A software engineer by trade, Washburn called his start-up costs “significant” and laughed when asked when he hopes to break even.
“Well, at this point I’m thinking if I’ll ever get my investment back,” he said. “I shouldn’t say that. It’s going to be a long time. It’s a lot of money involved here.”
He found one limo near Chicago and the other in Washington, D.C. He had the vehicles shipped to different shops for restoration, with the whole process taking three to four years.
Washburn said he has shown his vehicles off at two bridal shows this year and has several reservations. For weddings, he charges $490 for the first two hours and $95 an hour after that. That includes extra touches such as a red carpet, champagne and flowers on the car. His regular rate is $240 for two hours and $95 an hour after that.
“I’m not competing with the stretch limousine companies in town because I don’t have a stretch, and they don’t have vintage,” he said.
In addition to restoring the limos, Washburn had modern safety and comfort features such as air conditioning and seat belts installed. Washburn said it wasn’t easy to find the cars in the first place.
“These are the ones that really are mostly used in the vintage (limousine) business,” he said. “They’re considered the best-looking Rolls and Bentley ever made.”
James Bond would probably agree.
Now you know
BESPOKE LIMOUSINE SERVICE
Owner: Greg Washburn