There was a time when the Pope set about cruising the world in class and style. While we'll have no part in arguing the functionality of the current Popemobile, the machine simply can't hold a candle to the classy lady you see above.
This particular 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman landaulet was built specifically for Pope Paul VI and served three additional pontiffs before getting mothballed in 1985. Why do you care, you ask? Because this particular piece of motoring history is headed Stateside for the very first time as part of this year's Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance celebrations next month.
Mercedes-Benz has dug the unique 600 out of storage just for the event. Aside from the standard air-ride suspension, power brakes and heating and air conditioning, this particular model came equipped with bullet-proof glass and a unique rear seat that could be raised and lowered so that the Pope could be more easily seen by crowds.
The 2011 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance kicks off on March 11 and runs through the 13th, featuring classic vehicles from all over the globe. Hit the jump to check out the press release.
Live photos copyright © 2011 Michael Harley / AOL
JACKSONVILLE, FL; February 21, 2011 --- The 125 year anniversary celebration of the invention of the automobile continues for Mercedes-Benz and among several special cars making their way to the 16th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance held March 11-13, 2011 is the 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman landaulet built specially for Pope Paul VI.
The historic vehicle is making its first appearance on U.S. soil at Amelia Island and is part of a featured Class of Mercedes-Benz 600 vehicles on display during the automotive event, which features nearly 250 rare vehicles and benefits Community Hospice of Northeast Florida. The Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman landaulet was originally presented in September 1963 at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, and quickly became the vehicle to have among Europe's wealthy elite. Weighing in at nearly 5,000 pounds, the 600 featured a number of technological advances for the day and was equipped with Mercedes-Benz's first ever V-8 that could reach 0-100 km/h (kilometers per hour) in an impressive 10 seconds – similar performance to many of the sports cars of the period.
This vehicle built for the Pope was special and constructed with an individual seat for the pontiff that could be raised and lowered during the car's procession through crowded streets. An elevated roof, extended rear doors, and raised floor were also fitted along with other special equipment such as bulletproof glass. Over two decades, the car was used by three popes and was returned to Mercedes-Benz's Stuttgart, Germany headquarters in 1985. It comes to Amelia courtesy of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, where it is one of many famous and priceless cars in its collection.
The 600's basic equipment package was far above anything offered at the time and included air suspension, power brakes, central locking systems and an electronic heating and air conditioning system. With the numerous body designs and interior features to choose from, no two 600s were alike which ensured exclusivity for the owner. This was especially true for the owners of Pullman limousines and landaulets. The last 600 rolled off the assembly line in summer 1981 and during its 17-year production run, 2,677 were built of which 428 were Pullman limousines and 59 were landaulets.
"We are deeply indebted to the people at Mercedes-Benz for agreeing to send us the Pope's personal 600," says Bill Warner, Concours founder and co-chairman. "It has never been seen here in the United States and it makes a statement worthy of the Pope's status around the world. It is an incredible vehicle and a true showcase for Mercedes-Benz workmanship and advanced technological thinking."
The 2011 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will be held March 11-13 on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show's Foundation has donated nearly $1.7 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida's First Coast since its inception in 1996.