The Joy Of Knowledge.
“Pope-mobile” is an informal name for the specially designed automobile (using the State City of Vatican registration plate “SCV 1″) that is used by the Pope during public appearances. Several models have been used: the first time Pope John Paul II traveled to his home country, the white painted vehicle (one of two made) was based on the Polish mark Star, a small truck from a firm in Starachowice with a speed of six kilometres per hour; A Ford Transit truck was converted in 1979 for Pope John Paul II’s first visit to UK, bigger than the one used today in the Vatican; yet another is a modified Mercedes-Benz with a small windowed “room” in the back where the Pope stands. Following the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981, the pope-mobile was fitted with bulletproof glass on four sides. However, it was sometimes driven with open windows. In the early days of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI used an open-topped vehicle.Several vehicles used for the Pope’s overseas visits remain in the host country and were reused on his subsequent visits. The Mexican Papamóvil, for example, was brought out into the public during John Paul II’s funeral. Similarly, the Philippines automobile manufacturer Francisco Motors produced the custom popemobile for the 1995 Papal visit. It cost millions from voluntary contributions in the private sector and, as with the Irish vehicle, had bulletproof windows, bombproof parts, and it was inspected by the Swiss Guards with success. When John Paul II died, this pope-mobile was briefly borrowed by parish officials of the Quiapo Church for display. It became an instant pilgrimage site to ordinary Filipino devotees who could not afford to go to the Vatican for the Pope’s burial ceremonies.Past and present popemobiles have been adapted Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicles. A converted 230 G Geländewagen was built for John Paul II’s visit to Germany in 1980. One of the current models is actually based on an M-Class sports-utility vehicle built in the United States. The ML430-based popemobile was presented to John Paul II in June 2002.For John Paul II’s visit to England, Land Rover produced a specially-modified version of one of its vehicles, which now resides at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. During the Pope’s visit to Canada in 1984, a modified GMC Sierra was used. It was subsequently used for the 1998 papal visit to Cuba and was briefly on display at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology in 2005. At some point during the 1980s, the pope-mobile was displayed at an event in England, however it was stolen by two young men and was never recovered.Ford Motor Company also produced a series of popemobiles for the Vatican based on their presidential limos. For example, the custom built 1964 Lehmann-Peterson was used by Pope Paul VI in his 1965 New York visit and was reused in 1970 in Bogotá.In 2006, an armor-plated popemobile used by John Paul II during his visit to Britain in 1982 was sold at auction for £37,000 ($70,500) in Scotland to a man from Ireland.A Mercedes-Benz 230 G Popemobile (one of two built) has been retired and is currently on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.In 2002, Pope John Paul II requested that the media stop referring to the car as the Popemobile, saying that the term is “undignified”.On June 6, 2007, a German man tried to jump into Pope Benedict XVI’s uncovered popemobile as the pontiff began his general audience. The pope was not hurt and did not even appear to notice that the 27 year-old man had jumped over the protective barrier in the square and had grabbed onto the white Fiat popemobile as it drove by. At least eight security officers who were trailing the vehicle as it moved slowly through the square grabbed the man and wrestled him to the ground. The man was interrogated by Vatican police and then taken to a hospital for psychiatric treatment.According to a number of sources, the original Pope Mobile was a modified Range Rover. But after conducting a number of searches and uncovering images of a variety of vehicles, including a Mercedes Benz and a six-wheel drive Leyland T 45 used to transport the pope, we concluded that there is no single papal vehicle these days. It appears his Holiness uses different cars in different countries.