The Pope, the one that resides on the Vatican throne, is probably the most recognizable man in the world (I almost said the most popular), and that means he’s in the center of attention – his every move is documented. And while the Pope’s role on this Earth is to help folks understand God’s words, bring piece with the speeches, broadcasts and actions, the Regular Joes and Janes seem to care more about the trivial, fun stuff, like those Prada shoes that Benedict XVI used to wear. Come on, people, let the man have his shoes! On the other hand, the public attention is well-deserved, as the Popes are royal creatures and are used to living in luxury. They have quite an expensive taste, and not only in the footwear, let me tell y’all real quick: they’ve got gorgeous halls, venues, transportation, security – you name it. Wait, did I just say transportation? Let me rewind the tape and start again. Today we’ll be talking about the Pope’s greatest cars to date, and when it comes to cars, the Church folks sure do know how to pick them. After all, they gotta keep the image strong.
The Holy Fleet – Only Luxury And Royal Cars
By the way, back in the day, until 1929, The People Of God used to be “riding” only in ornate, gilded carriages – in and out of hometown, Vatican. When the automobile industry showed the world that horses are outdated, the Holy Fleet ditched the carriages and moved on to some of the most expensive vehicles of the era, including Mercedes-Benzes, Lincolns, et cetera, et cetera. However, I have to give it out to Pope Francis who doesn’t seem to care about the joys of this world and has dedicated himself to the original task – serving God and blessing the people. He’s a humble, kind and an all-around nice man who prefers to drive (or, rather, ride in) middle-class cars as compared to the ridiculously expensive and unapologetically fancy steel horses that used to be in the Holy Fleet. Alright, it’s time to get sanctified, folks, and take a look at the Pope’s greatest cars to date. After you check out the following 5 cars you’ll look at Pope Francis differently and maybe even start believing in the Church again. I mean, come on, how are we supposed to trust them when they’re driving million-dollar cars and living in mansions, right? Being humble is what it’s all about.
#1 – The Lincoln Continental
Back in the 60s, when we had sex, drugs and rock-n-roll conquering the world, Lincoln’s now-legendary Continental was one of the most luxurious and glamorous models on the market. So, when Pope Paul VI decided to visit the United States in 1965 (that was the first time the Vatican “chief” arrived in America), Ford was requested to make one exclusively for the pontiff. And the company was given only 2 weeks to complete that task. However, Paul VI really loved it and even asked for it next time he stepped onto The Land Of Free. The “Holy Continental” featured back seats that can be raised for parades, a public address system, a removable top, and lots of other minor features that are Pope-exclusive. The Lincoln then became Chicago’s official parade car and was even lucky enough to carry the Apollo 8, 11 and 13 crews on their parades. A couple of decades later, in 2011, “The Lincoln that used to carry the Pope” was sold at an auction for 220K. Not bad for a 4 decades-old vehicle, right? Well, it’s definitely one of the Pope’s greatest cars to date, no doubt about it.
#2 – The Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman
600 Benz is an iconic car, maybe even more so than the Continental we just talked about. It used to carry all the influential folks of the past, including presidents, big-time politics, dictators, celebrities, and, well, Popes (or, rather, the Pope). For 15 straight years, from ’64 to ’81 , the Mercedes-Benz 600 was the most expensive car in the world, so, no wonder Vatican picked it as their next means of transport. Every single model was hand-crafted to the buyer’s request and specifications, so, no 2 are 100% alike, and that’s the beauty of it. In ’65 the German giant made a convertible Pullman Landaulet for Pope Paul VI to ride in. By the way, a vent on that rear fender hints that this particular car was equipped with an air conditioning system, something that was quite rare for the European vehicles from the ’60s. So, yeah, this is the second ridiculously expensive and unique car from the Holy Fleet. I’m not jealous, folks, I’m just a bit confused by the level of luxury the Church enjoys.
The Pope’s Greatest Cars To Date – #3, The Mercedes-Benz 230-G
The new Mercedes ride was all about security and looked and felt like a modern-day boxy tank, with a bulletproof construction. Hey, if you think that this is the Holy See spending top dollar on ridiculous cars again, you’re wrong, because as you could probably remember, Pope John Paul II was shot on St. Peter’s Square back in May 13 1981 while riding in his dorky Fiat Campaignola. Yep, that happened! Thankfully, the man survived, but they just had to make the next Popemobile as sturdy as they possibly could. So, that makes the Mercedes-Benz 230-G one of the most memorable cars in the Holy Fleet, and it severed the Pope since early ’80s. Fun fact: the car is still in production in 2016 and isn’t really that different from the famous John Paul II model, especially in terms of the powertrain. A brand-new, even more bulletproof edition of the 230-G is currently serving in the Vatican’s fleet. At the end of the day, it’s remembered as one of the Pope’s greatest cars to date.
#4 – The Ferrari Mondial
Wait, the Pope was driving a Ferrari? Really? Like the fancy Continental, 600 Benz and a bulletproof 230-G were not enough? Relax, man, it wasn’t even like that! Here’s how it all went down: back in ’88 John Paul II (yep, that same Pope that was shot 7 years ago) got tired of the usual stuff and decided to ride down the block in a Ferrari Mondial and visit the manufacturer’s headquarters in Maranello, Italy. The company, in turn, appreciated the visit and, 17 years later, gave the Pope a brand-new supercar – the world-famous Enzo. John Paul II, like a true servant of God that he is, auctioned the car, sold it for 1.1 million US dollars and used all that money to help out the victims of the Indonesian tsunami in 2004. By the way, last year, in August 2015, that same Ferrari Enzo was resold for 6 million! In my book that’s one hell of an investment. Even with the inflation and everything, 5 mil of net profit is super-awesome. However, it were the actions of the Pope that matter, not the auctioneers.
The Pope’s Greatest Cars To Date – #5, The Hyundai Santa Fe
Now, while Benedict XVI and John Paul II were big fans of all the expensive cars in the world (Mercedes, Lincoln – you name it), the new Pope, Francis, flipped the game 180 degrees when he ditched all those royal-class rides for middle-class vehicles. For example, in 2013 he was given an ’84 Renault 4 that he really enjoyed driving himself. But it was the Santa Fe from the South-Korean Hyundai that really made folks believe in the new Pope’s good heart. Of course, the car was redesigned a bit to suit the Pope’s requests, but it’s still quite an affordable model. He rolled in with the Santa Fe in June 2015, right after his visit to South Korea. Furthermore, the Pope was also spotted in a Kia Sedona and in a Fiat 500L. The small, cute and nimble Italian crossover with a low-budget price-tag on it is probably what the majority of Catholics are driving, anyway, so, I guess Francis thought it would be a good idea to let go of the million-dollar rides in favor of affordable, routine cars.
#6 – The Jeep Wrangler
Ok, let’s finish the list of the Pope’s greatest cars to date with an unusual entry – the Jeep Wrangler. Aha, the all-time off-road champ, the choice of huge dudes who love to play basketball, baseball and pretty much anything that has to do with a ball, has a place in the Vatican’s Fleet. On the other hand, come to think of it, the Wrangler is like the perfect Popemobile! So, last year Francis was chauffeured in this Jeep SUV on his trip in Ecuador and liked it so much that picked it once again during his American “tour”. The Wrangler that the Vatican owns is not actually any different from the usual model, as the open sides are perfect for reaching out to the crowd, kissing babies and sharing that nice smile with the city. And that’s it for the list of the Pope’s greatest cars to date. It’s good to see big-time changes in the Holy Fleet since Francis’s arrival back in 2013, and let’s just hope that the next one will be just as good and kind. Hey, don’t forget to comment – Vatican will approve!
See this video: Popes Car Collection