Pope Francis continues to rack up “Cool Pope” points in South America, where he’s currently rolling in a Jeep Wrangler. That’s right: the pope is visiting Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, and has a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Popemobile.
His Holiness rolled through the city of Quito, Ecuador on July 5th in his Wrangler surrounded by the holy entourage and thousands of fans. The Jeep Wrangler Popemobile is equipped with a massive glass enclosure, plus new LEDs and a special red carpet.
The Popemobile has gone through many iterations, some of which you may have a hard time believing. Popemobiles come in two varieties; the locally made, customized versions, and the official Popemobiles, now the only kind after the attempt on John Paul II’s life in 1981. Some are made for daily open-air service in St. Peter’s Square and others are bullet-proof Popequariums which take him around the world.
The 1930 Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 is the first car acknowledged as a formal Popemobile, built for Pope Pius XI as a gift from Daimler Benz AG. Then came The 300D Landaulet Popemobile thirty years later, with Mercedes spanning the gap during the tumultuous period.
In 1964 it was a stretched Lincoln Continental, next the Landaulet version of the 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600, beginning a streak of Mercedes. That is, until the 1979 FCS Star broke the mold – it was a Polish-built industrial truck normally outfitted for firefighting duty. When John Paul II he visited Ireland in 1979 a Ford Transit, of all things, was converted for him.
By 1980, he was back to Benzes. Mercedes provided a customized G230 which would become the guidepost for Popemobiles to come. In 1981, it was a a Peugeot 504. Seriously.
The first bullet-proof Popemobile was built following the first assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981. The Rover took the precedent set in the design of the 230 G. This most massive of Popemobiles was built by Leyland Truck for the Pope’s visit to Scotland as well as additional travels around the UK in 1982.
The first fully armored car, a Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL, landed in 1985. For a visit to Mexico during 1999, John Paul II rode in a glassed-up bus through unprecedented crowds of onlookers. Following his death in 2005, this Popemobile was put on permanent display in Mexico City at the Basilica of Guadalupe. And yes – people do make pilgrimages to see it.
Beginning in 2002, the Mercedes ML 430 Popequarium became the standard bearer. In 2004 a Fiat Campagnola rolled through Vatican City, primarily during masses at St. Peter’s Square. That Fiat had a short run, supplanted by a far more stylish G500 right at the end of 2007. This one is the first that can be converted from open-air duty to bulletproof glass.
But you don’t need to be the Pope to enjoy a good Jeep Wrangler! Come into our showroom at Mancari’s, your Jeep dealer in Oaklawn and get behind the wheel today!