By on April 18, 2012

Spotting old cars is like an addiction for car guys. That’s why this giant sized 1960 Chevy limousine had a group of guys around it even though a wedding reception was underway next door.  The good news is that everybody found their correct seats before the respective festivities began. There were anecdotes about guys being dragged away by their ears.

No wonder. This car really gets your attention and it’s not just because of the psychedelic Shriners paint job. This is the ultimate 1960 Chevy. It has enough room for a volley ball game with extra room for spectators.

Pat Ferguson from the Shriners organization was kind enough to fill in the blanks on the car’s history:

“It started life as a 1960 Chevy Bel Air & was a Brewster Transportation touring car until the Banff Shrine Club (Now Alpine Shrine Club) acquired it in the late 60’s. It was originally a medium blue color just like the rest of the Brewster fleet & they had it stretched by Sherwood Body Co. in the US.”

The car needed a fair amount of power to haul the daily loads as Pat explained:

It originally had a 3 speed manual transmission but when it became a parade car for the Shriners they had an automatic transmission put in so they wouldn’t be burning out clutches! It currently has the 409 Chevv engine, & is a rocket on the highway. It doesn’t particularly like to run slow in parades.”

The car was designed to reflect function over form. That’s not a great leap of logic when you’re discussing a car that’s nearly a football field long:

“A couple of interesting points to mention are, that none of the doors on the driver’s side of the car open except the driver’s door to keep people from exiting into traffic. It also came with rear axle air bags to level the car when loaded with 18 passengers & all of their baggage.”

The beauty of this working Chevy is simply that it’s still actually working. Most of these types of vehicles became the biggest part of a washer-dryer combination. Seeing this car working in 2010 explains why all the male wedding goers were drawn to the car like moths to a light.

There was no word on whether the bride suggested parking the 50-year-old classic behind the building for the next wedding.

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16 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner: Shriners 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air 18 Passenger Limousine...”

  • avatar

    18 people? Lets say those 18 people averaged 175 pounds per, that’s 3150. Lets also assume they each had 30 pounds of luggage…that’s an additional 540 pounds for a total of 3690. That car has to weigh at least 4000 pounds. Total weight including fuel is just at 8000 pounds total or 2000 pounds per wheel assuming 50/50 weight distribution. Those skinny little tires can take a 2000 load?

  • avatar

    I thought Shriners only drove mini-cars and motorcycles!

  • avatar

    Let’s see those Shriners all pile out of a Tata Nano, like they’re supposed to do.

    Looking at that thing, it appears it should be a jitney in Thailand. Another American classic car wasted…phooey. I coulda owned that before it was ruined and taken proper care of it.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see how they stretched and strengthened the X-Frame under this car…the body flex was already an issue for these years of Chevrolet.

    • 0 avatar

      Dos Xx !

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to say something about the X frame and you beat me to it. It was like a piece of taffy to begin with. There is no way a GM x frame could be lengthened like this without the car collapsing in the middle. They would have had to add gussetts to this wagon.
      No way could this car’s suspension and those tires support 18 average adults plus luggage.
      The factory seats only held 3 abroad,comfortably that is, so assuming this wagon has one extra seat that would make for 12. 2 extra seats would make for 15, but that suspension would have to be pretty beefed up. They either installed bigger brakes or it takes a mile to stop this thing. Chevies of this era came with small 9X2.5 inch brakes.

      • 0 avatar


        These cars have 11″ x 2″ drums in the back and 11″ x 2 3/4″ (Not sure on the width)drums on the front, same as pretty much all the big Chevys until they got discs.

        A stock 1960 Kingswood would seat 9, with the flip up seat in back, so I would guess it holds 15 easily.

        The X frame was only supposed to hold all the running gear, the whole idea was that the body was self supporting so you would be insulated from any rough roads. It was kind of a semi unit body design. Weld a couple of sections of rectangular tube along the rock panels and it would be just fine.

        I own a Parkwood. Either this started life as a Brookwood, or it has lost some of its trim. There was no Bel Air wagon. I suspect it started life as a Kingswood, since it most likely has a rear facing seat.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The Grand Mystic Royal Order of the Nobles of the Alibaba Temple of the Shrine – to quote Ray Stevens

  • avatar

    It is a child’s dream car! Wings for fenders and painted to look like a 1960 Denny’s on wheels! And Banff! Glacier National Park had similar vehicles. It’s so big, long and powerful! Yeah, mine looks pretty tame next to this tiger! No wonder it’s a rolling Freudian attraction.

  • avatar

    I think I just had a flashback and I don’t do drugs. Last year I saw a beat up Cadillac version of this vehicle at a local hotrod/custom car builders back lot (this thing had the whole hippy/flower power thing going on and had four doors on both sides). I couldn’t decide if it was authentic or just a modified car. Now I know the answer.

  • avatar

    The information about the stretched Chevy was provided by a member of the Shrine club that owns it. Our guess is that the wagon met its maximum passenger capacity as a very tight squeeze with no room for tiny cars.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I am just old enough to recall seeing these stretched, airport limos when I was a kid in the 1970’s. Most of the ones on the road then were Checkers, but you did see the occasional Chevy or Pontiac.

  • avatar

    Wish there were some interior photos. I’m still puzzled over how four rows of seats accommodates 18 passengers. Many years ago, I rode in Checker limos to the Newark airport. Those things were tall and boxy, but I don’t think we sat more than four abreast.

  • avatar

    Call me crazy but I’ve long thought that the SUV/CUVs that have the third row ought to come with six doors instead. Would make life much easier than climbing in and out of that third row and worrying about getting trapped back there in a crash. Yeah it would look weird compared to the two/four door designs we’ve had for 100 years but it would be so much more practical.

    I’d love to have a six door version of our CUV for family/friends hauling. No off road use. Just groceries plus seatbelts for six…

    I’ve thought about making an airport limo out of our current daily driver. Would be great. Not very fast over the Rocky Mtns should we decide to go cross country… LOL!

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