Pope Benedict XVI’s signature white Mercedes-Benz ML-based popemobile is an iconic popemobile, but popes didn’t always ride in Mercedes-Benz cars. Back in 1965 for Pope Paul VI’s visit to the United States, a custom built 1964 Lincoln Continental Limousine was built for the Holy Father. That ’64 Continental is now up for auction at Bonhams on August 19 in California, where it’s expected to sell for up to $350,000.
This 1964 Lincoln Continental Limousine was custom built by Lehmann-Peterson for Pope Paul VI’s visit to the New York in 1965 to speak at the United Nations and celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium. According to RM Auctions, the Lincoln Continental was commissioned by Henry Ford II for the pope’s first visit to the western hemisphere, after Ford determined the Continental was, “more appropriate” than the Ford LTD the Vatican originally requested.
The Vatican wanted the Continental popemobile to be built with a transparent bubble roof, a convertible top, and a throne in the rear to allow the Pontiff to be better seen by crowds. The Continental Popemobile also included running boards for the Swiss Guards, and a public address system.
After the pope’s visit, the 1964 Lincoln Continental popemobile was shipped back to Lehmann-Peterson in Chicago. While in Chicago, it spent some time chauffeuring astronauts from the Apollo 8 and 13 missions (including Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong), during ticker tape parades. The Continental was pressed back into papal service in 1968 and shipped to Bogota, Colombia for Pope Paul VI’s visit there.
After the pope’s visit to Columbia, the Lincoln Continental made its way to a French museum, until it went up for auction at the Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction in 2006, where it was expected to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000.
The Lincoln could fetch between $250,000 and $350,000 at this year’s Quail Lodge car auction.
Source: MSNBC, Bonhams, RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Ford, Theo-Graphics/Bonhams