Nearly every time that the Pope makes a public appearance, he gets to ride in one of the most unique and recognizable vehicles in the world- the famous Popemobile. Millions of visitors flock to Italy each year to listen to him speak. For fans of the Pope, seeing him live can be a once in a lifetime experience, so naturally he wants to stay visible to as many as possible.
History of the Popemobile
Up until 1978 there was no Popemobile. Traditionally he would arrive to the stage carried on what is known as a “sedia gestatoria” – a portable chair that would be carried by twelve specially assigned “footmen”. They would place rods that ran alongside the throne on their shoulders and march through crowds so that the Pope could be seen. Pope John Paul II was the first to not use the device, and opted for a motorized version. After his assassination attempt in 1981, the Popemobile was fitted with bulletproof glass.
There have been many different car companies that have made the Popemobile. The first time the name was coined was when John Paul II visited Poland. It was there he traveled in a modified FSC Star, which moved at roughly 3 mph. Since then, there have been models made by Ford, Fiat, SEAT, GMC, Leyland, and Mercedes. The current ride of choice for Pope Benedict XVI is a modified Mercedes M-Class SUV. Features include bulletproof glass, armored side panels and a reinforced steel undercarriage making it something of a traveling fortress.
Auto Europe offers a full line of premium vehicles, but the Popemobile may be the only car we don’t offer. If you’re interested in a luxury car rental for your next European Vacation, contact us today!