From Ford-based presidential limos adapted for His Bubble-car-ness to SEAT Pandas to Chilean one-offs, the Popemobile has a history as colorful as the garments of the man who rides in its protective shelter. The newest Popemobile, based on the Mercedes-Benz M Class, was delivered today to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
Pope-specific additions to the M Class include an extended dome (taller than the previous version) to allow more movement and easier access; an enhanced view of the Pope for spectators, with larger glass panels and an illuminated roof lining; an embellished throne; and structural elements to ease transport of the M Class Popemobile by air.
The SUV-based New Popemobile follows a long line of Mercedes-Benz cars used by the leaders of the Catholic Church over the past 80 years. Those include the first, a Nürburg 460 Pullman Saloon for Pope Pius XI; a 600 Pullman Landaulet and 300 SEL for Pope Jon XXIII; a modified G Class for Pope John Paul II; and the previous Popemobile, used by both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, another Mercedes-Benz M Class.
The car’s first public appearance with the Pope within came during the Catholic Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception at the Spanish Steps in Rome the day after it was delivered.
This article originally appeared at The Motor Authority.