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Which Popemobile For A Humble Pope? Photo:
popemobile_fiat_panda Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_qubo_02 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_oltre_concept_04 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_strada_02 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_oltre_concept_01 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_strada_01 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_qubo_01 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_doblo_01 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_oltre_concept_02 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_doblo_02 Photo: tmr
popemobile_fiat_oltre_concept_03 Photo: tmr
Tim O'Brien | Mar, 14 2013 | 1 Comment

What kind of Popemobile will appeal to a Pontif known for his humility? A man who, when the Papal limousine was on offer, chose to ride the shuttle-bus with his fellow-cardinals to the Vatican residence.

Perhaps not one with a Mercedes badge on the nose.

Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was possibly a surprise nomination as leader of the Church of Rome and its 1.2 billion Catholic followers. Few however will have been surprised at the choice of a prelate from South America (it holds, after all, 39 percent of the world's total catholic population).

Nor that - though a Jesuit - he is a follower of St Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order of monks and who chose poverty over a life of privilege.

The trappings of wealth and remoteness perhaps sit poorly with a church in trouble in the old world, and growing fastest among the emerging economies of the new.

So what will such a man choose for a Popemobile?

The son of an immigrant Italian railway worker, you would have to think that Italian cars would be running in his blood. For a humble Pope then, a stretched Fiat Panda with a glassed-in back might seem to be the choice.

But bullet-proof glass is heavy and, a sad fact of the age, also a necessity. That would seem to scratch the Panda - although anything is possible for the coachbuilder's art.

Above: Fiat's Hummer-like 2005 Oltre concept.
Above: Fiat's Hummer-like 2005 Oltre concept.

A military vehicle perhaps? Like Fiat's amazing Oltre concept of 10 years ago, its visualisation of a Hummer-like off-roader.

No, nothing remotely military will ever wash in the former home of Cardinal Bergoglio and a continent that has been wracked by bloody coups, juntas and despotic generals for the better part of a century.

Perhaps then a Fiat Qubo? Better yet the larger Doblo. Seating for seven gives the coachbuilder a wheelbase to work within, and a payload up to 1000kg also means a platform with some inherent robustness.

One that may be suitably modified with a bulletproof back and reinforced floors.

Above: the quirky Fiat Qubo.
Above: the quirky Fiat Qubo.

Or perhaps no such thing. A Pope who prefers a shuttlebus might be equally happy in the back of a wagon, or standing in a ute like the Fiat Strada Adventure and not be too fussed about a bullet-proof bubble.

Yes, this may be the conveyance for such a Pope: the Doblo or the Strada.

Windows down in the Doblo, a few acolytes in the middle seats, and the Pontif sitting behind.

Or perhaps just standing in the back of the Strada, one hand on the roll bar, the other free to despatch blessings across the heads of the faithful.

That would be our pick.

(But he'd have to get it past the howling nannies, of course... "standing up in a ute... oh the risk, the risk...")

Above: the Fiat Strada could be just the ticket.
Above: the Fiat Strada could be just the ticket.

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