The History of the Chauffeur

In today’s world, a chauffeur is a person employed to drive a private or hired car. In our case, our chauffeurs are trained and hired to drive our luxurious and modern fleet of Mercedes-Benz cars.

We know chauffeurs today as suited gentlemen who drive clients to their desired destination – but how did this custom come about, and why the term ‘chauffeur’? Let’s take a look at the history of the chauffeur.

The term ‘chauffeur’ stems from the French word ‘chaufer’ back in 1899 meaning stoker. Due to the fact that early automobiles required quite the effort to start, the ‘chaufer’ or ‘stoker’ would need to preheat the motor by stoking the hot coals as they all ran on steam at the time. Another job which was down to the chauffeur was the overall maintenance of the car which involved routine maintenance and cleaning of the vehicle. Chauffeurs were always required to be skilled mechanics in the olden days as they had to deal with breakdowns and tyre punctures which were a regular occurrence. The French applied the term ‘chaufer’ to anyone who was a skilled automobilist in the late 19th century with the Americans then opting to use the French ‘chaufer’ rather than the British word ‘driver’ because back then, all the best cars came from France! Some American owners even imported French mechanics or chauffeurs to care for their newly purchased cars.

During the early 1900’s, the word chauffeur allowed more flexibility with its definition and could be used to refer to a wealthy automobile enthusiast and a privately employed delivery or taxi driver. The term could even refer to anyone who drove an automobile, whether for hire or pleasure.

Now that we’ve covered the history of the term ‘chauffeur’, let’s take a look at how this tradition came about.

The History of the Profession of the Chauffeur

Before automobiles were introduced, horse-drawn carriages were the only form of transportation available. This required an immense amount of care and upkeep not only on the carriages themselves but also on the horses that were charged with pulling them. Aristocrats in the 15th century therefore needed dedicated and skilled automobilists, also known as “coachmen”, to drive and maintain their horse-drawn carriages, marking the start of the tradition of having someone entrusted with ensuring you arrive at your destination safely and with ease.

It wasn’t until the introduction of motorized vehicles that these “coachmen” became “chauffeurs”. 

As automobiles were introduced and the world then continued to modernize, so did the role of the chauffeur. The economy worsened in the late 19th century, with employers reducing their household staff and forced to learn to drive themselves.

This trend did not kill the profession but instead enabled it to evolve over time. Interesting to point out is that there was even a magazine ‘The Chauffeur’, published weekly specifically for chauffeurs and their industry. This showed the steady demand for these highly-trained professionals. 

Handling and maneuvering a vehicle back in the 1900s was nothing like it is today with a much higher level of physical labor and complicated coordination. The rich were happy to leave such difficult maneuvers to the experts.For this reason, the role of a chauffeur was always a very professional one and held to the highest standards.

Chauffeurs were later expected to be presented smartly and well-groomed. They must now be conservatively dressed in a clean and pressed black or dark suit, dress shirt, tie and polished shoes. In Japan, they even require their chauffeurs to wear white gloves!

Here at Dacoby, all our chauffeurs take pride in their work and present themselves in a very smart manner to ensure they provide our clients with a luxurious and flawless driving experience.

The role of the Chauffeur might have developed over the years along with tech advancements, but one thing’s for certain, the history of the chauffeur profession was and still remains a symbol of luxury, comfort and taste. The good news is that luxury chauffeur services have become something of a norm for people who come from all walks of life. 

At Dacoby Luxury Chauffeur Services, our professional chauffeurs will collect and escort you to your destination in prime elegance, ensuring a comfortable and safe journey with the added bonus of traveling in style. With several years of experience, we pride ourselves on offering an excellent, reliable and on time chauffeur service within Malta and Gozo.

Discover more about Dacoby and the luxury services that we offer here.

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