Limos of Karachi

Okay, the fourteen feet Chevrolets of late seventies have found a new market in Karachi. Thanks to the skillful hands of the local auto mechanics and the so-called ‘denters & painters’.

The base car cost just under Rs 200,000. It takes around 2 to 3 months for the specialized ‘teams’ of mechanics and ‘denter painters’ to convert the car into a whole 25 feet long limousine. Estimates for this anatomy change hover around Rs 800,000. So for around a million rupees, these hardworking magicians can hand you a limousine you can quickly start renting out for weddings etc. Arif, owner of an auto painting outfit named Anas Autos Gulshan-e-Iqbal, provided these estimates while showing a Chevrolet that happened to be in two halves for the planned ‘elongation’. Arif also proudly pointed me towards a finished limo done by him that stood at Ahmed Motors, a car rental outlet close by.

I did not get a chance to evaluate the interior of the car but I can imagine that it might not be very well-done because local handmade auto upholstery and interior will dim against the interiors of new cars of today. But there is a specific class of population that appreciates the sheer size of the car even if it is no match against its modern cousins prevalent elsewhere.

With visibly increased liquidity, more and more middle class people are turning to uncommon businesses in the quest for hitting a six, so to say. Apart from regular car rental outfits, individuals with money to spare are picking up cars and getting them converted for the sake of event rentals.

Abid from Automan (also in Gulshan) operates a Limousine service. He was quick to provide information about the expected rentals that one can earn from the finished limo. ‘Rs 10,000 for 7 hours – from 8 PM to 2 AM, my owner driver. Fuel and decoration [around Rs 2,500] is yours’, said Abid. ‘If you get the car decorated from us too, we’ll do it for Rs 1,500’.

Cool. A pay-back of just 100 trips and you’ve got your Rs 1 million back and you start collecting profit onwards. Selecting the right locality to market the service and maintenance of an otherwise old car remain two of the most visible challenges.

12 Comments so far

  1. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on April 14th, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

    Wow!! If only we could all use the same level of ingenuity for the good of our country….alas!!!

  2. Bozz (unregistered) on April 14th, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    Ingenuity! I see a big hulk for small minds.

  3. yo (unregistered) on April 14th, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

    imagine this thing getting stuck on chundrigar…

  4. d0ct0r (unregistered) on April 14th, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

    i have seen few of them being converted… by our neighborhood denter..

  5. Farrukh Ahmed (unregistered) on April 15th, 2007 @ 12:23 am

    Tee Emm, sorry to say but the quality of these conversions is “disappointing”. having modifying cars since childhood, i can tell you that these cars will last a maximum of 2 yrs, if used carefully.

    The interior is far from appreciable in most cases. the ‘stretched’ chassis is of inferior quality and the car ‘buckles’ from the middle after repeated drives on our roads.

    The limo show above bears a ‘for sale’ sign (its near the disco bakery). i donot know the name of the guy but i guess the one who rents them at such a price does nothing to maintain them.
    In a recent incident, the limo broke down while carrying a ‘dholha’ for a baraat….they had to call another “usual” corolla and carry on….
    imagine the situation when you’ve announced that the baraat will be coming in a limo and then you turn up in a corolla!

    if you ask me, 800k is more than enuff to build an international standard limo, with hollywood style interior!

  6. MB (unregistered) on April 15th, 2007 @ 9:06 am

    How about chopping it down to 3 small cars ?

  7. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on April 15th, 2007 @ 10:36 am

    YoYo,where are you ancient friend? ltns? are you angry at me? :-)

  8. Hassan' (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 1:12 am

    These cars are not common but yes they are used for wedding function.

  9. Khi_d (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 6:39 am

    R u serious……u can make a international standard Limo in 800K, i guess 800K is equal to around 13K USD. and i m sure u cannot convert a Lincoln or a Cadillac into a stretched Limo for 13K.

  10. Farrukh Ahmed (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

    @Khi_d: 800k is enuff to build a limo with custom interior and gadgets. Of course, if you’re planning to stretch a new car like toyota premio or something, only the price of the car is around 1.4 mils, and the total cost will rise accordingly.
    let me know if you’re interested.

    The standard of limos as above is so pathetic i would rather use a standard suzuki sedan!

  11. Anon (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 12:16 am

    Forget your silly Limo, say hello to Suzuki Domingo! It is not yet time for the Limo industry in Pakistan, give it another 15 years, or maybe 20.

  12. rajender(+919991043910 (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

    please send virus to this number+919991043910

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