Move over, Batmobile! The Popemobile is the sickest, and holiest, ride in the world. As Pope Francis makes his first visit to the United States, everyone’s looking out for his cruiser. Here’s what to know about it’s history!
Pope Francis is coming to America for the first time, and he’s bringing the Popemobile with him. We’ve all seen images of the pope’s ride as it travels around the world, but not much is actually known about the vehicle (except that it has ample room for giant hats). Click through to find out five important facts!
1. It’s literally bulletproof
The Popemobile, in its current incarnation, is designed to withstand violent attacks against the Pope. After the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in 1981, the car was fitted with thick, bulletproof glass.
Though the car usually only travels at about 10mph, it can reach speeds of 160mph in order to provide a lightning fast escape. It’s thought that the car can fend off bomb attacks as well, but fortunately that’s never been tested!
2. Maybe don’t actually call it the Popemobile
Okay, so it’s really fun to say (and write) the word Popemobile, but some popes have expressed disdain for their vehicle’s nickname. Pope John Paul II called it “undignified,” and Pope Francis feels the name sets him too far apart from the people.
3. It started out as a luxury ride
While the term “Popemobile” only came into pope-ular use during the fairly recent reign of Pope John Paul II, the concept of providing the pope with a designated vehicle has been around for decades. The first official Popemobile was a Merecedes-Benz Nürburg 460 Pullman, given to Pope Pius XI in 1930. It was a car fit for a king; the interior was embossed with doves and silk carpeting. A stretch model, it was basically a PopeLimo.
Since then, models have become less ornate. While Mercedes has made 12 different ones over the years, SEAT, GMC, Toyota, Fiat, Isuzu, Kia, Hyundai, Land Rover and Jeep have all made models as well.
4. Pope Francis is sick of this Popemobile business
For trips with security concerns and overseas visits (like his stop in the United States), Pope Francis uses the standard Popemobile — but very reluctantly. Calling it a “sardine can,” he has eschewed the bulletproof glass for an open air vehicle to keep him closer to his people. Though it puts his life in danger, he believes he’s in the hands of God. Anytime he’s not making official appearances, he’s cruising around in a normal Ford Focus or a 1984 Renault 4 that a priest pal gifted him.
5. They gave up being carried around on a throne
Popes used to just be straight-up carried around on thrones throughout St. Peter’s Square. The Sedia gestatoria carried popes on the shoulders of 12 footmen wearing red robes all the way up until 1978, when it was officially replaced by a car. The throne was surrounded by white ostrich feather fans, the seat an extravagant ordeal of red silk, velvet, and gold.
HollywoodLifers, are you going to try to sneak a peek at the Popemobile when it cruises through? Tell us in the comments and take our poll!
— Samantha Wilson