Before you ask: it's based on a Nissan pickup truck.
The vehicle used to carry the Pope when he visits other countries - often referred to as the Popemobile - has changed a lot over the years. We've seen some interesting creations based on the Lincoln Continental, various Mercedes-Benz models, and even the Kia Soul, but now a new carmaker has had a go and building something for His Holiness.
The Roman Catholic Church has used a vehicle to transport the Pope since 1965 and the cars have been equipped with a viewing deck since 1978. Some of the cars have been extremely opulent, especially the ones from Mercedes, but oftentimes the Popemobile is built using a more humble base. On his latest trip to Africa, Pope Francis rode in a custom pickup truck from Nissan.
The Pope's final stop on his trip was in Mauritius, an African island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The NP300 Hardbody pickup truck (sold in other markets as the Navara and Frontier) was supplied by Nissan's Mauritian NSC ABC Motors. The truck was then sent to a subsidiary called ABC Coachworks, where it was modified to Vatican specifications.
"ABC Automobile, as one big family, put all its heart into the design of a Popemobile worthy of this name and of Vatican's standard. We were and still are amazed by the outcome of three months of pure hard work. We felt an immense sense of belonging and accomplishment when we watched His Holiness in this Popemobile we made with our own hands. We are so proud for having contributed, in our own way, to the arrival of the Pope," says ABC Automobile Managing Director Dean Ah-Chuen.
We didn't know Nissan had a special division on the island of Mauritius, which is one of the most competitive markets in Africa. Since being established in 1984, ABC Motors has been a market leader in Mauritius with a 30% market share. This special Nissan NP 300 Hardbody wears the unique number plate SCV1, which is an abbreviation of the Status Civitatis Vaticanae (Vatican City State in Latin). It will put on permanent display to commemorate the pope's visit to the island.