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Chronicle Herald
Feb. 7, 2008

It’s all limousine
One-of-a-kind ‘luxury lounge’ has room for 23 to party in style
By BILL SPURR

WHEN Eli Kifle came to Halifax from Ethiopia in 1989, he started out a taxi driver.

Hard work and charm soon made him a Mercedes salesman, but he had still more impressive vehicles in mind.

Now the owner of Town Limo, with a fleet of 12 vehicles that includes Town Cars, stretch limos and a Hummer, Kifle also has what may be the most eye-catching vehicle in town, a quarter-million dollar limo bus.

From the outside, it looks like a cross between a transport truck and a bus.

Inside, though, it’s all limousine.

Dwarfing the Hummer in the driveway, the 23-passenger "luxury lounge" is an expanse of black leather and marble behind tinted glass.

Not to mention five wet bars, two TVs, satellite radio, a "killer sound system" and specially designed cup holders, some for wine glasses and some for rocks glasses.

The soft rubber winter floor is replaced by custom-made carpeting in the summer.

The bathroom is bigger than an airplane’s and the audio and video systems are all operated by remote control.

"What I was going to do was send my Hummer to California to split it open and extend it to 14 passengers, but then I ran into . . . Crystal Enterprises, which is a well-known manufacturer. (I found out) we’re not allowed to stretch Hummers in Canada, even though in some parts of the country they have them," said Kifle. "But in Nova Scotia, it’s a no-no, so the Hummer was eliminated, so my next step was something bigger. They suggested this kind of vehicle."

Kifle bought an International 3200 chassis, then spent three months designing the interior of the limo bus. Crystal Enterprises had done similar projects with Fords, but this was their first International, and it’s the only one like it in Canada that Kifle knows of.

"This is my own design, the way I wanted it," Kifle said.

"The bars, the TVs, the computer hook-up, the Power Point, PS2, all that stuff — a traditional stretch limo wouldn’t have it. In here you can do business while you’re travelling."

Though his Town Cars and stretch limos are still his busiest vehicles, Kifle has seen demand for the limo bus increase since he took delivery last March.

Most recently, a group used it to be delivered to a Super Bowl party, and tonight it’s booked to ferry around celebrities in town for the Kingsmeadows Sports Dinner.

"We arranged to use the bus to take all the celebrities from the reception at Pier 21 to go to the Cunard Centre. It’s only about 500 metres but we arranged it just in case of inclement weather," said Doran Donovan, President of Canadian Progress Club, Halifax.

"We also used it for a party for the Uteck Bowl. It was fantastic, the bus drove around Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford and picked us up, we had a few pops on the bus, then it dropped us off in the parking lot. After the game, we got back on and went downtown, just guys talking sports and laughing, the whole nine yards.

"It was fantastic."

The cost of using the limo bus depends on the length of the booking, with a three hour wedding package for $900 proving to be so popular Kifle said he could use another vehicle just like it in the summer.

"We used it for weddings and graduations a lot last year, and this year we’re booked solid in June, July and August. Our weddings in this vehicle start April 4, then there are proms, bachelors parties, things like that," he said.

"The longer you rent it, the cheaper it gets, basically. If you want to take it for ten hours, it’s $1,500," he said.

"We do a lot of golf tournaments, and the groups will often have themselves videotaped while they’re playing and then watch the tape on the TV on the way back from the course."

‘The bars, the TVs, the computer hook-up, the Power Point, PS2, all that stuff . . . you can do business while you’re travelling.’

ELI KIFLE
Town Limo