The Pope is a successor of the apostle Peter, a poor fisherman chosen to head the Church by Jesus, himself a humble carpenter. It might seem anomalous then for a Pope to have expensive tastes and indulge in worldly pleasures. Well, there have been many pontiffs over the centuries who have been known for their immoderate lifestyle. This includes their choice of official rides, which over the years have comprised uber-luxury Pullmans, Lincolns and Ferraris. While many of these may have been gifted to the Pope, these have all been used to carry the Bishop of Rome around.
Things are a bit different now, with the current pontiff, Pope Francis, being markedly more egalitarian in his views and lifestyle choices than his predecessors. For one, he doesn’t live in the official palace quarters, and recently inducted a relatively modest Hyundai Santa Fe into his fleet as the new Popemobile. Popemobile, by the way, is the name given to the specially-equipped vehicles used to transport the Pope at his public appearances at the Vatican and away. These are vehicles specially designed to protect the Pope while allowing him to be visible to the crowds.
However, those who were hoping to witness some pomp in the form of elaborate, gilded carriages during Pope Francis’s ongoing visit to the UAE, will be sorely disappointed. In fact, the pontiff turned up in a diminutive Kia Soul this morning for the official reception at the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi!
But that doesn’t hold us back from indulging in some wishful thinking. Below are our picks from the papal car collection that we wish the Pope had brought on his first visit to the Arabian peninsula.
1. Jeep Wrangler (see main image)
The Jeep Wrangler has been used many times by the current Pope, including his visits to Ecuador and the United States in 2015.
2. 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser
The white classic off-roader is believed to be the first papal vehicle to be termed “Popemobile”, and would have made for a great talking point, what with the historic association this region has had with the legendary Toyota nameplate.
3. Land Rover
The Land Rover Series 3 Santana 109 built by Santana Motors of Linares, Spain, entered the papal fleet in 1983. Like the Land Cruiser, this one would have been a great choice for the regional tour.
4. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Having entered service in 1990, a Mercedes-Benz 230 GE remained the Popemobile of choice for over a decade. While that was retired, a G-Class is still part of the fleet. A firm favourite with royalty in this part of the world, the G-Wagen would have added a touch of grandeur to the Pope’s motorcade.
5. Ram Truck
Based on a Ram 1500 Sport painted in Bright White, this is one of the brawniest of Popemobiles. While the outside is rugged, it’s been decked out in a red carpet and a leather armchair, adding that touch of luxury.