100 Things You Should Know About Daimler | #2

Popes have been riding in Mercedes-Benz cars since 1930

The Pope counts on automobiles from Mercedes-Benz since 1930. Lots of them became iconic popemobiles.

We know from a reliable source that the heartfelt cry “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz” from 1970 didn’t come from the head of the Catholic Church. That’s because popes have been riding in star-brand cars since 1930. Back then, Pope Pius XI, received a Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 as a gift from Daimler-Benz AG. It marked the beginning of a now almost 90-year relationship, which has probably lasted longer than every Christian marriage that has ever been concluded.

The first modern model to be delivered after World War II was a Mercedes-Benz 300 d, the same as used by German Chancellor Adenauer. Representatives from the Stuttgart-Untertürkheim plant presented the vehicle to Pope John XXIII in 1960. The car in question was a landaulet, which is a type of vehicle that has a convertible top for the rear and a fixed roof for the front seats. For the German tour of Pope John Paul II in 1980, Mercedes-Benz developed the first pope vehicle to feature a transparent superstructure. The vehicle was a converted G-Class off-roader, which was presented to the Vatican as a gift in 1982. The raised seat position enabled the Holy Father to get a better view and come into closer contact with the people during his public appearances. Since then, these types of vehicles have colloquially been referred to as “popemobiles.” The pope himself wasn’t very happy about this name, because it wasn’t in keeping with the dignity and purpose of these automobiles.

However, in the summer of 2002, DaimlerChrysler presented the Holy Father with a popemobile based on an M-Class 430. It was a custom-made vehicle, which was later also used by John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI. A converted M-Class, which is now known as the GLE, can also be found in the vehicle fleet of Pope Francis. This popemobile was presented by former Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in person. And because even back then, traffic in Rome tended to stand still rather than flow, the pope also received a smart e-bike, which is as sporty as it is environmentally friendly. No matter which kind of vehicle or even which vehicle brand the pope is relying on, we wish him a safe journey — urbi et orbi: in Rome and in all the countries he visits.

Return to the Vatican: In 1984 Pope John Paul II received the lavishly restored Mercedes-Benz Nürburg from 1930.
Return to the Vatican: In 1984 Pope John Paul II received the lavishly restored Mercedes-Benz Nürburg from 1930.
En route to the Quirinale Palace: Pope John XXIII in his Mercedes-Benz 300 d landaulet (W 189 series) on his way to a meeting with the Italian President.
En route to the Quirinale Palace: Pope John XXIII in his Mercedes-Benz 300 d landaulet (W 189 series) on his way to a meeting with the Italian President.
Mercedes-Benz G 500 from model series 463, open-top ‘Popemobile’, developed by Mercedes-Benz for the Vatican. Photo from 2007.
Mercedes-Benz G 500 from model series 463, open-top ‘Popemobile’, developed by Mercedes-Benz for the Vatican. Photo from 2007.
Latest Popemobile from Mercedes-Benz for Pope Benedict XVI. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, former 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, 2012 at the Vatican.
Latest Popemobile from Mercedes-Benz for Pope Benedict XVI. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, former 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, 2012 at the Vatican.
Holy Father receives smart ebike from Dieter Zetsche: In addition to the official papal vehicle, the Popemobile, Dr Dieter Zetsche, former Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, handed over a smart ebike to Pope Francis.
Holy Father receives smart ebike from Dieter Zetsche: In addition to the official papal vehicle, the Popemobile, Dr Dieter Zetsche, former Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, handed over a smart ebike to Pope Francis.
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In this column, we present you interesting, quaint or widely unknown facts from the world of Daimler. We publish a new episode of "100 Things You Should Know About Daimler" every two weeks.

Christian Scholz

took Latin for five years in school but nonetheless never became a priest. However, as a child, he already was thrilled by the popemobile in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

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