Update: Pope Benedict XVI retires, Mercedes M Class Popemobile

Update: Pope Benedict XVI is tepping step down from being head of the Roman Catholic Church, a 1st in about 600 years. A new Pope…

Update: Pope Benedict XVI is tepping step down from being head of the Roman Catholic Church, a 1st in about 600 years. A new Pope will be elected once the Pontiff steps down at the end of February 2013. Mercedes Benz M Class SUV, specially produced for the Pope, with a special all purpose body was formally handed over to His Holiness by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. By handing over this vehicle, specially designed for the Pope, Mercedes Benz continues with an 80 year long tradition where in Popes have relied on the quality, safety and comforts of the Mercedes Benz vehicles.

The Mercedes Benz M Class or Popemobile as it is called, is used by the Pope during public appearances within Vatican and abroad. In its safe and comfortable confines, it allows the Pope to be as close to the public and well wishers while on his various visits. Pope Benedict XVI was seen in this Popemobile for the first time on December 8th when the Roman Catholic community celebrated Feast of Immaculate Conception at the Spanish Steps (see image below).

The Popemobile is fitted with latest in technology, is given a luxurious interior makeover with easy entry access and enhanced internal space. Larger glass panels are added for clear and enhanced viewing with an illuminated roof lining. There is a throne in its interiors which bears the Coat of Arms of the Holy Father.

Mercedes Benz has been providing these vehicles to the Catholic Church for past 80 years. After these vehicles have played their part in transportation of the Pope, they are added to the collection on display both at Vatican and at Mercedes Benz museum in Stuttgart. For more information, scroll down.

Image: NBC

Auto News Release

Dr Dieter Zetsche hands over Mercedes-Benz M-Class in Rome: New Popemobile from Mercedes-Benz for Pope Benedict XVI

Stuttgart/Rome – 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.

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