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Popemobiles In Historical Perspective

The car below is the Mercedes donated by Mercedes to Pope Pius XI. Custom built for His Holiness.

Mercedes Nuerburg 1930. Custom buit for Pope Pius XI. Donated by Mercedes.

Mercedes Nuerburg 1930. Custom buit for Pope Pius XI. Donated by Mercedes.

Far from considering the gift a horror for Renaissance Princes, Pope Pius XI received the car personally.

Yes, that one is the Pope... You Renaissance Prince, you...!

Yes, that one is the Pope… You Renaissance Prince, you…!

After the historic Concordate with Italy in 1929, Graham Paige, a now-forgotten US car producer, donated this splendid example to, again, Pope Pius XI. The gift was, I suppose, gracefully and gratefully  accepted. The car was also clearly not sold to give the money to the poor.


Graham Paige 837, donated by the firm.

Graham Paige 837, donated by the firm.


Not yet anything concerning Pope Pius XII.

If you have links to photos of the Pope in a Vatican car (not the guest car he used in Germany, say) please post in the comment section.


Pope John XXIII used a magnificent, breathtakingly beautiful Mercedes 300 Landaulet. The cost of even the standard version was prohibitive, this Landaulet’s must have been stratospheric.

Pope John XXIII in one of his Renaissance Prince moments...

Pope John XXIII in one of his “Renaissance Prince” moments…


Pope Paul VI also wasn’t particularly shy (or perhaps there was no poverty back then; one of the two). The leading car is the Mercedes 300 Landaulet we already know, but all the other cars are Mercedes sedans. Not very favela-friendly, then…


Spectacular Mercedes motorcade.

Rome: spectacular Mercedes motorcade.


Later, Paul VI switched to another Renaissance-like creation, and another custom built Mercedes Landaulet; this time, of the Model 600.

Pope Paul VI Mercedes 600 Landaulet

This car is just a show-stopper. I have seen in the flesh the standard version of it. A miracle of elegance, class and beauty. A fitting car for a Pope. Below is a photo of this wonderful vehicle in action


Tsk.. Tsk... what is next, a Beethoven concert?

Tsk, tsk… what is next, a Beethoven concert?


In the following years, Landaulet seemed to fall a bit from grace (for security reasons, I suppose), but the Vatican was equipped, thanks to Mercedes, with some rather impressive vehicles besides the usual and not very kingly white Papamobiles.

The one below is a Mercedes S500, with armour and glass rooftop. A platform allowed the Pope to comfortably but halfway securely greet the masses. The car has been in used until the present days. It is not known that its use ever caused widespread protests amongst the present poor. We are here in the Eighties.


Bishops must stay out...

Bishops must stay out…


A more expensive, rather impressive custom built example for more relaxed occasions is the one below: this is another Landaulet, though of a less spectacular sort than the Mercedes 300 and 600. The Mercedes S is the following version to the one above. We are here already in the Nineties.

Custom Built Spectacular

Custom Built, too…

The last couple of decades have seen the use of some of the present vehicles, but with – due to the omnipresent security concerns – the massive use of those familiar white 4×4 meant to let the Pope resemble a fish in the acquarium. I never liked those vehicles, and they won’t be allowed to be pictured here.

Fast forward to 2013.

This is the bishop of Rome’s latest vehicle.


This is a five years old (note the front: this isn’t the latest model) Ford Focus. In order to stress the splendour of the Church, it is a hatchback. We are not told if it has air-con.

Bishop Francis would be appalled at knowing that Pope Pius IX, one of the most notorious “Renaissance Princes” of the XIX century, had his own train car.

I say! Shameless!

I say! Shameless!


Allow me to conclude this little gallery with my personal suggestion for an appropriate vehicle for the Bishop of Rome, one that would allow him to stress the importance of poverty, to put the accent on the preservation of the environment, and to resonate with the poor of the Argentinian pampas…


Forget the landaulets! Emissions are completely organic...!

Forget the landaulets! Emissions are completely organic…!


I allow myself to suggest the name for this revolutionary change of mobility perspective:





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