Popemobile – The history of Pope’s cars

Popemobile – The history of Pope’s cars
Popemobile – The history of Pope’s cars

The Popemobile refers to a vehicle built or modified specifically for the pope. Numerous such vehicles have been produced over the years, which is why today we’re going to take a tiny glimpse at the history of the Popemobile. The pope is one of the most popular religious figures on the planet. His job often requires him to travel between destinations, therefore it’s no surprise that he gets to travel in style.

Although back in the day, more traditional vehicles were used to transport the pope, in the early 20th Century, things were beginning to change.

Ford produced one of the first modern Popemobiles, which was first used by Pope Paul VI in 1965 on his trip to New York. The car was based on Ford’s presidential limousines, for which it was responsible at the time. Apart from the custom-built Ford, Pope VI also used a Mercedes-Benz 600 to get around.

Back then, the term “Popemobile” wasn’t really a thing yet as it waouldn’t be popularised until John Paul II became the Pope.

John Paul II first began using a modified Polish mark FSC Star in the late 1970’s. It was mainly reserved for the Pope’s visits to o Poland.

Another vehicle introduced around the same time as a popemobile was a heavily modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV. It’s the vehicle that many believe to be the first true popemobile, however this is highly disputed as it would be very difficult to pinpoint the exact car that started it all.

In the early 1980’s, the people transport came in the form of a modified Fiat Campagnola. The vehicle came under a lot of criticism however, following the failed assassination attempt on John Paul II. Although the vehicle was fitted with bulletproof windows, they were often kept open as the pope made public apearances.

A SEAT Panda was the next popemobile to be introduced in the mid-1980’s. The vehicle allowed the pope to stand still whilst the car was moving, which meant he could greet the crowds.

In the years that followed numerous different vehicle were used by the Pope, including cars from Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover and Chevrolet.

Following the death of Pope John Paul II, the vehicle that Pope Benedict XVI used frequently was a Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV. The modified car was arguably the most luxurious popemobile to date as it came with white leather and gold trims.

Some fascinating vehicles were produced to serve as the popemobile over the years. Some were simple whereas others offered a great level of luxury.

The late Pope John Paul II has reportedly disliked the name and urged people not to call the car the “popemobile”.

Are you a fan of the popemobile? Let us know down below.

Be sure to have a quick browse through the rest of our blog where we post regularly about luxurious vehicles.


  1. Although the first popemobile boasted a degree of luxury befitting a king, in technical terms, it was still no more advanced than the average cars coming off production lines at the time. It would still be a while before the pope’s car was constructed in a more elaborate way. Such modifications would include wider windows, removable roofs and a throne-like seat in the back for the pope to sit on while waving benevolently to throngs of believers at a snail’s pace.

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