The latest popemobile is actually a Nissan NP300 Hardbody pickup.
We knew that Pope Francis was a humble guy, but we never knew he was also a pickup kinda guy. Previous popemobiles (at least for this particular pope) have included a Dacia Logan, Fiat 500L, and a Skoda Rapid Spaceback. A Nissan NP300 is brand new territory for this lover of urban commuters.
The decision to adopt the NP300 came on the final stop of Francis' 3-country visit to Africa last September. The NP300 is known as the Nissan Navara or Frontier in other markets where it has already moved on to its third generation. This particular model is a first-gen NP300 which is still in production in various countries around the world.
To get it ready for its Holiest of passengers, the NP300 was purchased by Nissan partner NSC ABC Motors and then handed over to ABC Coachworks to be made into something worthy of the pope. Which really just involved painting it white, installing a papal canopy in case it rained, and also a unique license plate that read SCV1 – an abbreviation of the Latin Status Civitatis Vaticanae (Vatican City State).
ABC Coachworks is used to this sort of thing. They're bread and butter is modifying busses and vehicles for use by police, ambulance, and emergency fire services. All modifications were overseen by the Diocese of Mauritius who gave it his blessing once all was said and done.
"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."
The NP300 popemobile will be on display by the diocese of Mauritius in honor of Pope Francis’ visit.