The Newest Popemobile Is ... A Nissan Pickup Truck?
4 October 2019 - motor1
The pontiff rode in a special NP300 during his recent visit to the island of Mauritius.
A special vehicle for the pontiff has been a thing for decades, and some have been rather elegant. The Pope rode in a customized Lincoln Continental in the 1960s, had a slick Mercedes S-Class in the 1980s, and even had a special Mercedes M-Class a few years back. Now, the honor of building the latest in a very long line of Popemobiles falls to Nissan, a first for the Japanese automaker. And well, the final product is a special pickup truck.
Actually, it's not as strange as it sounds. When the Pope travels, special Popemobile conversions are often built on-site as opposed to transporting a car to different countries. During Pope Francis' recent trip to Africa, he visited the island of Mauritius where a properly white Nissan NP300 with a large glass enclosure and seat in the bed was waiting. The upfit was performed by ABC Coachworks, a company on the island affiliated with ABC Motors, which is in turn affiliated with Nissan.
"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," said ABC Automobile Managing Director Dean Ah-Chuen. "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."
Depending on where you're reading this from, you might better know the NP300 as Navara, or as Frontier in North America. It's endured with just minor facelifts since 1997, and we suspect this could be one of the truck's proudest moments. As such, with its mission now complete, the upfitted truck will be placed on display in Mauritius to commemorate the Pope's visit.