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A brief history of the chauffeur

May 9, 2013

Chauffeurs in the modern day are smart, courteous, highly trained drivers that are employed to drive people around either in private or rented luxurious vehicles.  Chauffeurs are often portrayed as being for the rich and the famous but these are not the only people that use their services.  These days chauffeurs are commonly used for transport to and from special occasions such as a wedding or a school prom and by business men and women who need stress-free transport to business meetings or conferences.  Classic cars that are often used by professional chauffeur services in the present day are the Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Limousine and BMW.

Chauffeurs have been around since the early days of the automobile so their role has changed with the development of the motor vehicle.  The word ‘chauffeur’ was developed in 1899 from the French word ‘chaufer’ which meant ‘stoker’.  This was because motor vehicles in those days were a lot harder work than the ones we are blessed with now and it took quite a lot of work just to get them started.  Early motor vehicles relied on preheated hot tubes located in the cylinder head to start the vehicle’s engine as there was no such thing as an electrical ignition back then.  The chaufer’s job was to prepare the automobile by stoking the engine.

The early version of the chauffeur job was usually working as a personal servant for the vehicle owner.  These personal chauffeurs would be in charge of everything to do with the owner’s motor vehicle including repairs and maintenance and cleaning this meant that early personal chauffeurs had to be skilled mechanics.  As the motor vehicle has developed over the years the chauffeur’s job has changed too.  In the modern day a chauffeur service usually includes rental of both the driver and the car although there are companies that offer rental of just the driver.  Using a professional chauffeur service is seen as a luxurious, sophisticated and comfortable way to travel.

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