Mercedes-Benz delivers new 'popemobile' to the Vatican
Modified M-Class provides more room on the inside and a better view of the pontiff from the outside.
Mercedes-Benz has been supplying the Vatican with new wheels for the past 80 years. The latest ride, the first new one for Pope Benedict XVI, made its debut during a Catholic feast day last week at the famed Spanish Steps in Rome.
Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz, personally delivered the vehicle to the pope.
The new “popemobile” is a diamond-white Mercedes-Benz M-Class outfitted with the requisite high-security glass bubble that allows His Holiness to cruise among crowds of admirers without compromising safety. It replaces a modified G-Class that has been in the Vatican fleet since 2002 and was used by Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
The latest popemobile comes with plenty of custom touches, and does more with less.
So that the modified M-Class would better fit on cargo planes when the pope travels overseas, its overall height was reduced by a few centimeters, yet the glass dome has been extended compared with the preceding model. This allows for not only more interior space and more convenient access but -- along with a large, illuminated roof lining -- it also improves the view of the pope for people on the outside.
Mercedes-Benz became the papal automotive supplier in 1930, with Pope Pius XI's Nürburg 460 Pullman Saloon. In the 1960s, Pope John XXIII cruised in a 300d Landaulet outfitted as a cabriolet with an automatic transmission. Later, Pope Paul VI continued the Vatican’s German-luxury obsession when he purchased a Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet and later a 300 SEL. The first true popemobile arrived at the Vatican during the 1980s for Pope John Paul II, who worked the crowds at St. Peter’s Square in a modified G-Class.
Retired popemobiles can be viewed as part of the collections on display at both the Vatican and the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
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