Vini Bergeman


Vini Bergeman or Carl Vini Bergeman owner of Ultra Coach Builders, Corona, California

Ultra Coachbuilders has an expanded, shall we say, approach to the limousine. Founder Vini Bergeman, originally of Bronx, New York, moved to California in 1971. In the "trick car" business, Bergeman's Kolor Me Kustom company mostly "built studio stuff," he says. Similar to others who were curious about these things, one day in the late 1970s, he "just decided to build limos." The first car was already longer than anyone else's, he says, which he built "to fit more people, just to goof around." From there, how­ever, Bergeman proceeded literally to extend the limits of the limousine.

Thirty-feet, forty-feet, double or triple rear axles, Bergeman constantly pushed the enve­lope. "I'm an innovator, not a duplicator," he says. In addition to breaking the 100­ and then the 200-inch stretch barriers, Ultra Coachbuilders has produced a 50-foot stretch mono­rail for Disney, and-one of our favorites-a 180-inch purple Lincoln stretch limousine that featured a black canvas top, rear spoiler, vented front fenders, three moonroofs, under-chassis neon floodlights, fold-out bed, suede upholstery, "6,000 strands of fiber optic lights," and "suicide" arrangement center double doors. The purple car, no doubt, served some of Los Angeles' more colorful figures.


Vini was also part of the team on the 2nd episode of Monster Garage when Jesse James and his team of designers, welders, fabricators, and mechanics transform a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine into a fire truck


Vini Bergeman, chief designer of limousine builder Ultra Coachbuilders, in Corona, Calif., has certainly seen the explosion in over-the-top vehicles. The company will produce about 600 vehicles this year -- double last year's output. This year he will stretch Ferraris, Hummers, and install some 60 hot tubs in rolling party-mobiles. Bridal parties are a big part of his business as end users, and the market for the overtly flashy shows no sign of slowing down. "People are going crazy with their weddings," says Mr. Bergeman.


It is in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest street legal vehicle in the world. It is a 1997, 36-passenger, 66-1/2 foot long white Lincoln limousine built by Ultra Coachbuilders. The monster limousine cost $1.8 million and was built for Sheik Hamad Bin Hamdan Al-Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates for
use when he visited the States. The limousine is in two pieces with a hitch in the middle to bend around corners. The rear compartment behind the hitch was built to be detachable, so that when the Sheik was
not entertaining he could enjoy a normal 30-foot limousine.

Vini Bergeman, founder of Ultra Coachbuilders, has over twenty-five years experience in the building of exotic limousines.  He says, "Most of the strangest limousines ever built come from me. I was the first builder to go over 48 inches. I was the first guy to put a Jacuzzi in a stretch, and I certainly was the firstto put a putting green on the back of a stretch limousine. I'm the owner of a toy store. I turn the wildest dreams of big kids into real vehicles. If a client can dream something, then I can turn that dream into reality."

Actors love to stretch, but this isn't exactly what Stanislavsky had in mind. From Lamborghinis to '39 Chevys, extending one's ride to limo lengths is a booming new Hollywood business. According to Ultra Coach-builder's Vini Bergeman, a pioneer of stretching cars, any auto can go long, even a VW Bug, though the process can cost up to $1 million. "I started doing this because people just wanted weird stuff," says Bergeman. Popular stretches include Navigators (Snoop Dogg), Hummers (Sisqo, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and GARTH BROOKS), and Excursions. But skip the Jacuzzi, unless you want to wear an underwater seat belt. Not to stretch the point, but high-visibility stars like the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and George Hamilton opt for regular-size models, while Michael Jackson tools around in a Lincoln Town Car-tinted windows, natch.

Ultra Kustom Cycles, a subsidiary of Bikers Dream, also debuted its new creation - "Dream Cycle." Designer Vini Bergeman unveiled the quarter of a million dollar custom built aluminum motorcycle Saturday, March 1st at the Daytona Beach Main Street Expo.

El Nino 1951 Mercury - Barris/Vini Bergeman
2004 - Stretch Mini Cooper with Jacuzzi - Vini Bergeman/Barris


Only in the United States can someone design this extravaganza, a Lamborghini Countach Limousine, totaling 6 Metres in length. This very special Countach was in fact nothing more than a rather poorly finished replica, and surely didn't use any original parts from the Italian based factory.
The bodywork was made up of fibreglass based on a standard size kit, the Ultra Limousine Corporation, in La Palma, California, enlarged the bodywork to 5.71 Metres. Dick Dean, a specialist welder, made the tubular steel chassis. This very special car used a Ford 2.8 Litre 6-cylinder engine, a very underpowered car all together, and the wheels were rather boring, old-fashioned multi-piece chromed ones, mounted with BF Goodrich tires instead of the famous Pirelli's.

But the work that went into creating this one of a kind replica was enormous, when the bodywork was delivered, the specs were all wrong, the windshield spacing was almost disastrous, it just didn't fit and the glass had to be remade to get it into the space. The doors were too wide, they just wouldn't close, Vini Bergeman, owner of Ultra Limousine Corporation, had to rebuild them inside his own workshop. We can still see that none of the four doors really fit like the two doors on the original Countach, where only a space of 3 milimeters was allowed, all around the door.


The premiere of The Kustomizer will air Monday, November 22 2004 on The Discovery Channel at 9:00 PM eastern.

About The Kustomizer: The Kustomizer is a reality show based on the everyday life of Vini Bergeman, owner of Ultra Limousine just outside of Los Angeles. Bergeman's job is to customize anything: cars, motorcycles, boats, jets, etc. His specialty is limousines, and his success over the past thirty years has not only earned him the respect of high-level customers all over the world, but also a multi-million dollar mansion near Hollywood. A transplanted New Yorker with a big personality, Bergeman oversees a series of unusual jobs while enjoying life with his colorful friends.


Jim A. Luff  - The Limousine Industry Goes Hollywood - Limo Digest, October 2004

Meet Bid Daddy

Prior to jail, Martha Stewart went from caterer to homemaking icon with her television show Martha Stewart Living and array of books, videos, and a magazine. In the financial world, billionaire Donald Trump became "the Don" when he went Hollywood with his television show The Apprentice. In the limousine world, Ultra's Vini "B" has gone from limousine manufacturer to the television star "Big Daddy." The Kustomizer, which will air November 22 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, features Big Daddy doing what Big Daddy does best - stretching it to the extreme. Positioned in a coveted prime-time location between Discovery's hit shows Monster Garage and American Choppers, The Kustomizer will have a guaranteed audience of motorheads, all watching Big Daddy strut his stuff.

In the pilot episode, Big Daddy takes two Mini Coopers and stretches them together, putting a hot tub in the middle. Yes, two - the car has two fronts and no back. For those of us who know Vini, this is nothing extraordinary. In fact, it is quite sedate compared to some of the other extreme vehicles he has built in the past. Big Daddy is proud of the fact that he built the world's longest limousine, which was verified by Guinness World Records. Larger-than-life exotic vehicles are his mantra and include the "Popemobile" and the monorail at Disneyland.

Along with stretching it to the extreme, the pilot episode introduces you to the cast of characters who are perfect foils to Big Daddy. For those who have not had the honor of meeting Vini Bergeman, you will see a cross between Bronx meets California - only louder. Big Daddy speaks with his fellow showmen in one tone - HIGH. First you will meet Carmine who, we are told, sold Big Daddy his first motorcycle at the age of sixteen and is still waiting to get paid for it. It is obvious these two men are good friends. Carmine is all New York. Moving to the other end of the spectrum you'll meet "Roy Boy" who you come to find out is the stepfather of Big Daddy's son. Yes, Roy Boy married Big Daddy's ex-wife. Perhaps this first episode is a little Jerry Springer meets Discovery channel, but the show commands your attention. Roy Boy and Carmine are a bit of Larry and Curly, respectively, to Big Daddy's Moe, but it works. Also introduced among the cast of characters is "Bronco" who shadows Big Daddy's large frame and is just as loud. Bronco's stature, however, hides his softer side. Bronco frequently carries his two Pomeranians, which Big Daddy feels should be used to "mop the floor." The pooches share their love for Big Daddy by snarling their teeth and hissing at him.

Last year, we announced Big Daddy ... er, Vini's, retirement from the limousine building arena. Apparently he hasn't completely retired. According to Vini, he has signed a five-year contract with Discovery. He was discovered last year when he was doing a character spot for a show called Shifting Gears. "The producer came back and asked if I wanted to do a show, and I told him, 'No way,'" Vini said. "I can't follow any script." He came back to say that he would do it if they gave him full control of the show as well as the final decision.

The show is about 50 percent customization and 50 percent Big Daddy. When you think he has done it all, he comes up with something new and wacky. "I just got done building a surfboard that goes 45 miles per hour," laughs Big Daddy. "I hurt my ribs riding it. It has a (purpose built) motor that lays on its side." Although the first episodes stretch a limousine and build a motorcycle, The Kustomizer will not be limited to stretching the conventional. "The next episode might be a house or a boat," explains Big Daddy.

In addition to meeting Big Daddy's crew, the audience is invited to tour a Big Daddy crib, which is as over the top as he is. At 20,000 square feet, the palatial mansion sits on a California hilltop. The living room alone could house a few families. Audiences also get the privilege of going into Big Daddy's bedroom, but we need to keep some surprises for when you watch the show.

Big Daddy feels that this is only the beginning of his super-stardom. "I just signed a commercial endorsement deal and am currently negotiating a few more. The limousine industry has always treated me good. I am now leaving all of it to the youngsters in the industry. I am at the next chapter of my life, and I hope all of my friends in the limousine industry watch my new show. I am still the same guy I always was. You can still get a custom vehicle from me."



For more information please read:

Jim A. Luff  - The Limousine Industry Goes Hollywood - Limousine Digest, October 2004

Paulette Thomas - Wedding Bells Ring Up Profits for Limo Services - The Wall Street Journal.

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional Car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company: a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999


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