When Ronald Reagan moved to town, the Georgetown set expected the new president and his California cronies to bring about a renaissance of freewheeling, extravagant parties in Washington. And it also was expected that the switch in political leadership and lifestyles would bring a boom in the limousine business.
After a year of the Reagan administration, whether that's happened is apparently a matter of interpretation, according to the District's three largest livery services.
"Republicans spend money. They are better users of limousines," says George Coupe, president of Admiral Limousine Service. "My business has boomed. I had to subcontract to get 125 additional cars for the inauguration, and on the one-year anniversary, I had to give 20 jobs away, because we just couldn't handle it all."
Ibrahim Awadillah, who heads Watergate Limousine Service, disagrees. "We did more business during the Carter administration than we have so far with the Reagan administration. . . . But I'm not complaining."
Vincent Wolfington, the corporate head of Carey Limousine Service, put it in perspective: "When a new president comes into office, there is a lot of new activity for about six months. It depends whether the new administration entertains a lot at the White House, and whether people who are lobbying and talking about new policy are using limousines."
The bottom line, says Wolfington, is that it doesn't really work to peg the limousine business' success or failure to a particular administration. There are too many variable factors and too many corporations that hire them to correlate fluctuation in the limo business to the administration in power, he says.Graphic:The Rev. Channing Phillips at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Photo by AP