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Popemobile Here in the US

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

EDITORS NOTE: With a new Pope just chosen, I thought you might like to read this "Popemobile" article from 2008...enjoy

Special Dignitary Design

Special to The Auto Channel
AIADA Contributing Editor

Over the next few days, as Pope Benedict XVI tours Washington and New York City, thousands on the route and countless millions will see the newest model of the car nominally known as the Popemobile. The car for the Pope.

Here’s what is known about this vehicle, specially built after two years of planning, for the Pope by Mercedes-Benz based on the ML 430. The leader of the Catholic Church will stand in a six foot high bulletproof double-pane window climate controlled enclosure so he can easily be seen.

According to Daimler, the Popemobile is pained in the Vaticanmystic white finish. The interior is upholstered in white leather and is accessed via steps lined in red at the rear of the vehicle. Each door has the Vatican coat of arms while the license plate designation is SCV 1 which is the acronym for the name of the Vatican in Italian.

There’s a 272 horsepower engine with automatic transmission to propel the Popemobile, but the speed seldom exceeds 10 mph in the city and the MPG was not available. Two trips will be made by the Pope in Washington on special routes and once in New York City during his six day visit to the United States.

Actually this is just one model of the Popemobile according to news sources in Europe, there’s an open air cabriolet model the Pope may use in nice weather and the fleet also includes M and S-Class Mercedes models with special armament.

While in the U.S., pprotecting the Pope is the responsibility of the United States Secret Service along with members of the Papal Swiss Guards and Italian Cabinieri.

Pope Benedict XVI is continuing a long tradition with the new Popemobile from Mercedes-Benz. Pope Pius XI was the first to receive a Mercedes-Benz as an official car in 1930 - a Nürburg 460 Pullman limousine.