By delivering a new Popemobile to Pope Benedict XVI Mercedes-Benz continues a tradition, which lasts for 80 years now. Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, personally handed over the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, specifically produced for the Pope with special-purpose body, today at the Vatican.
"It is an honour for Mercedes-Benz to be accompanying His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his future journeys with our new Popemobile", said Zetsche at the handover of the new Popemobile in Rome. "As such, we are continuing our long-standing partnership with the Vatican. For more than 80 years now, Popes have been able to rely on the quality, safety and comfort of our Mercedes-Benz vehicles."
The leader of the Catholic Church makes use of the Mercedes-Benz Popemobile at a number of public appearances both at home and abroad. It gives him the opportunity to get as close as possible to the public without having to forego the highest possible levels of safety and comfort. It will be possible to see Benedict XVI tomorrow in the new vehicle for the first time as early as 8th December in Rome, where the Catholic Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception is traditionally celebrated at the Spanish Steps.
The Popemobile is fitted with the latest technological highlights from the current M-Class. In addition, the vehicle also features a new interior design. Compared with the preceding model, the dome has been extended significantly, providing an improved amount of space and more convenient entry access. The view of the Pope has also been significantly enhanced thanks to considerably larger glass panels in the viewing area, together with large illuminated roof lining. The throne, the central design feature in the interior, bears the embroidered coat of arms of the Holy Father.
As with the preceding model, the body of the new Popemobile is painted in diamond white. And to facilitate frequent transport of the modified M-Class by air, Mercedes-Benz has reduced the overall height of the vehicle by a few centimetres, while at the same time improving the internal standing height. Work on the new Popemobile began some nine months ago. The vehicle was designed and produced by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz has been providing vehicles for the trips and official appearances of the leader of the Catholic Church for more than 80 years now. The first Mercedes-Benz for a Pope was a Nürburg 460 Pullman Saloon, provided for Pope Pius XI in 1930. In the 1960s, Pope John XXIII received a 300d Landaulet in the guise of a Cabriolet with automatic transmission. Subsequently, Pope Paul VI first made use of a Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet, followed by a 300 SEL.
From the 1980s, Pope John Paul II initially also travelled in a vehicle designated as a "Popemobile" - a modified G-Class - to the celebrations in St. Peter's Square. From 2002, he mostly made use of the predecessor to the new Popemobile, which Benedict XVI has also used up until today. After they reach the end of their working lives, the Popemobiles can be viewed as part of the collections on display at both the Vatican and the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.