Earlier this month, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche headed to Rome, Italy to personally greet Pope Francis and hand over the keys to the Pontiff’s new Popemobile, a modified Mercedes-Benz M Class.
According to news reports, Zetsche and the Pope discussed sustainable and safer mobility during his visit. Zetsche is an admitted fan of the Papacy and has previously revealed that he was first lured to work for Mercedes-Benz when as a youngster he saw Pope Paul VI being driven by one of the automaker’s cars.
This latest Popemobile follows a long line of Mercedes-Benz cars used by the leaders of the Catholic Church for more than 80 years. While other vehicle makers have, over the years, supplied the Pontiffs with vehicles such as a Toyota Land Cruiser in 1976 and a series of Ford cars in the 1960s and ‘70s, Mercedes has been the dominate donor when it comes to vehicles presented to the Pope.
In 1930, Pope Pius XI received a Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 as a gift from the automaker. That was followed by a 600 Pullman Landaulet and 300 SEL for Pope Jon XXIII.
Pope Paul VI also travelled in a Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet and, later, a 300 SEL.
The phrase “Popemobile” was first used in the 1980s in reference to the modified Mercedes-Benz G Class that Pope John Paul II used for celebrations in Saint Peter’s Square.
The G-Class Popemobile was designed to allow the pope to be more visible and safer when greeting large crowds. While some Popemobiles are open air, others have been equipped with bulletproof glass due to assassination attempt on John Paul II.
This new vehicle replaces the Mercedes-Benz M Class that was delivered to the Vatican in 2002 and later used by Pope Benedict XVI.
The license plate on the vehicle reads "SCV 1."
"SCV" abbreviates to both "Stato della CittÀ del Vaticano" and "Status Civitatis Vaticanae," which are the Italian and Latin names of Vatican City.