History Capsule: Is the Popemobile Italian?

CCers know the old response: “Is the Pope Italian?” So what about the new Toledo-built Popemobile?

Pope Francis (regarded as a CCer for both his blue Focus and Renault 4) was photographed riding in a modest black Fiat 500 rather than a traditional limo or the familiar Mercedes Popemobile after his arrival from Cuba at Andrews Joint Base outside Washington DC. Notice the SCV-1 plate on all the Popemobiles in this post  (Status Civitatis Vaticanae for Vatican City State.)


image source: www.theguardian.com

Reports indicate that he will be riding in the white Toledo-built Jeep Popemobile at the top of this entry when he visits Philadelphia and New York City. Although we know Pope Francis is an Argentine rather than an Italian, how should we categorize the Jeep-built Popemobile now that Fiat owns Jeep?  What’s your opinion?


SaraoBaguio copy

Evidently the new white Popemobile is hardly the first Jeep Popemobile. An earlier Mahindra high hood flat fender 3J-3B Popemobile was used in Pope Paul VI’s visit to India in 1964, and Pope John Paul II used the similarly-equipped 3J-3B seen above on his visit to the Philippines in 1984.



This commentator was surprised to learn that the Jeep was not the first North American-built Popemobile (the Popemobile designation that evidently applies to any auto in which a pope rides). This is a link  to a fun Washington Post history of the Popemobiles that includes a 1984 GMC pickup and this 1964 Lehman- Peterson Lincoln Continental limo in which Pope Paul VI rode while making the first papal visit to New York City nearly 50 years ago.


Reputedly, the custom limo was constructed in just eight days from a high mileage factory test car.   Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins also reported rode in the Lincoln in a ticker tape parade up Broadway after they returned from the moon. Nine other returning astronauts and LBJ himself also rode in that Lincoln.