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?
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.
I think it’s safe to say that, like Easter, the Popemobile is a movable feast.
I believe the Popemobile is whatever they need to accommodate the Pope. If he’s in the Vatican, he’ll ride whatever’s available.
Sort of like Air Force One is any plane that the president is flying in.
I’ve never heard “Is the Pope Italian?”
I have heard “Is the Pope Catholic?” quite frequently though.
I had the same reaction, but for several centuries popes were invariably Italian (every pope from 1523 to 1978), so it would have worked just as well as asking if the pope was Catholic. Maybe the ‘Italian’ version of the saying has fallen out of favor since the last three popes have been from elsewhere.
Although Francis is from Argentina, he is of Italian ancestry. His real last name is Bergoglio.
Which goes to show you’re young. Until John Paul II, every pope for centuries was Italian.
Thanks Syke, that’s the first time anybody has said that since I turned 40. 🙂
The news media on TV last night had a segment on how the made in America US assembled Jeep Popemobile was 100% USA. I guess they forgot Fiat owns Chrysler.
I wonder if the current cooperation is more equal than the past “merger of equal” from Daimler. Anyway, I’m glad they didn’t choose to use front half of Daimler and later half of Chrysler’s name to a new company.
A North American car for a South American pope.
He’s head of an Italian church so an Italian car suits whether its labeled Jeep or Fiat.
Considering it was born of the Middle East and has been in many locales just as long as in Italy, one really can’t say its an “Italian” Church. That’s why we call it Catholic-universal.
Roman Catholic Church, I think you’ll find Rome in its regular place.
Of course, but its not merely “Italian”.
I encountered the 1964 Lincoln L-P Popemobile limousine in transit on I-70 once in the mid-1970’s in Indiana. One supposes these days special cars are trucked to their next engagement, but back then they were simply driven.
A modified GMC Sierra was built by Thibault Fire Engines for JPII’s visit to Canada in 1984.
It ought to be based on the Fiat Luxus. (500L).
As a Popemobile for the US, how about a Lancia Thema? 🙂 (Ducks for cover….!)
The Vatican holds a large number of shares in Fiat. The Pope’s ride in a 500L is the sort of publicity you can’t buy. Coincidence? I think not.
Wasn’t there a Cadillac that Jack Roush built for JP IIs visit?
Fiat Campagnola! Now that’s a Popemobile
Chrysler is not owned by Fiat nor is Fiat owned by Chrysler.
Chrysler, which is now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, is an American car company headquartered in Auburn Hills, MI.
Fiat, which is now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, is an Italian car company headquartered in Turin, Italy.
They are both subsidiaries of a holding company called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles which is based in the Netherlands and headquartered in London.
The pope was in Cuba just prior to the current visit to the USA. I do not believe Cuba has a domestic automobile industry.
In Cuba the popemobile was a Peugeot and a rather attractive one. I would describe it as a “ute” in the South American/Australian sense of the word. I guess the Cuban Peugeot came from maybe Colombia or perhaps Argentina. The base car for the Cuban popemobile was a much more attractive and interesting vehicle than the one used in the USA.
More fitting as a Popemobile in Cuba would have been a big, pre-1960 American convertible, driven daily for the last 55 years and kept alive by the determination and pluck of generations of Cuban shade tree mechanics.
Let’s see, an Argentine Pope visiting the US – seems like a Kaiser might have been a better choice. 🙂 Just paint it white, cut a sunroof, give it a blessing, and off we go.
There is a certain mistake that folks forget… Fiat and Chrysler both have their equity owned partially by Hyundai/Kia, of Seoul, South Korea. Therefore it’s Fiat Chrysler Hyundai Automobiles International, of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. London’s just a satellite office for the holding firm. FCH is known only in the Netherlands, Korea and Canada.
What are you talking about? You’ve lost me. Care to elaborate?
Yes, please clarify this!!!!
I like the fact that Francis chooses to occasionally drive himself around the Vatican, and that he uses a 1984 Renault 4. A true CC for a humble Pope–it’s fitting!
For a more accurate history of the early popemobiles, including the newly discovered 1968 Jeepster in Colombia, see the articles on The CJ3B Page: