New Mercedes-Benz M-Class-Based Popemobile Presented to Pope Benedict XVI
The majority of American presidential limousines over the last eight decades have been either Cadillacs or Lincolns, but neither Dearborn nor Detroit can claim a monopoly on the franchise. But Mercedes-Benz can lay claim for being the official purveyor of official state vehicles for the Vatican for more than 80 years. And building a vehicle for a pontiff is a whole different proposition than your typical sedan or limo.
The latest Popemobile is based on a Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and represents the latest representation of an 80-year relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Vatican. Replacing a specially-modified G-Class used by the late John Paul II, the new Popemobile features an extended dome increasing spaciousness in the vehicle, and improved entry facilitated by a swing-out tailgate.
The view both into and out of the Popemobile has been improved with an increased glass area and an illuminated roof lining. The overall height of the Popemobile has been reduced to facilitate easier air transport, while at the same time improving the internal standing height dimensions.
The first Mercedes-Benz vehicle presented to a pontiff was a Nurburg 460 Pullman for Pius XI in 1930. The previous Mercedes-Benz models that have served in official Vatican capacity can be seen at museums at the Vatican and the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.