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Mercedes modifies the latest M-Class for the head of the Catholic Church, complete with glass-enclosed throne.
When the head of the Catholic Church parades around, his legions of followers want to see him. But the Swiss Guard charged with his protection also need to keep him safe. And so the Popemobile was born. A series of vehicles have served the purpose, but none quite so visibly as Mercedes-Benz. The German automaker has furnished the church with specially-equipped vehicles for the past 80 years, and has now delivered a new Popemobile to Benedict XVI.
Replacing the previous Popemobiles that were based on earlier versions of the G- and M-Class, the new papal transport is based on the 2013 M-Class. While Daimler hasn't disclosed which engine powers the new Popemobile, we have to assume it's more likely a diesel than the top-of-the-line ML63 AMG. What we do know is that, like previous versions, it has been equipped with a special bulletproof glass box on a pickup bed with more space and easier access than the previous version. Inside is a special seat (a throne, you might say, since he is effectively the monarch of Vatican City) embroidered with Benedict's papal coat of arms.
Developed over the course of the past eight months, the new Popemobile gives the Holy Father more room to stand or sit, yet it's shorter overall to help load it on to airplanes for the pope's tours abroad. It will be deployed for the first time this week at the Spanish Steps in Rome for the celebration of the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.