LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (February 20, 2009) – The Petersen Automotive Museum has recently added another unique vehicle to its collection: a 1998 Cadillac De Ville Parade Phaeton, more commonly known as a “Popemobile”. This vehicle was specially designed for the late Pope John Paul II to present his now famous “Address to All Generations” to a crowd of more than 100,000 of his followers in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Until recently, the Popemobile resided in the General Motors Heritage Center Collection. The Holy Cadillac briefly visited the Petersen Automotive Museum in the 2005 for an exhibit entitled: “Presidents, Popes and Potentates: Cars of Heads of State.”
Lengthened and modified into a convertible, this lavish De Ville is equipped with an elevated platform for the armchair-like papal seat, wide doors, retractable steps, and official Vatican seals and flags. While the General Motors de Mexico design studio began work on the car, Cadillac contracted with the American coachbuilding firms of Eureka Coach and Roush Technologies to complete the project in a mere six weeks. The Pontiff blessed the vehicle upon its debut. Modern religious and political leaders rarely use such vehicles because they do not offer the same level of protection afforded by enclosed vehicles with armor plating and bullet-resistant glass, making this Popemobile especially unique.
The Museum chose to add this vehicle to its collection because according to Curator Leslie Kendall, “The Petersen Automotive Museum has many automobiles with a head of state connection, but nothing that relates to the leader of one of the world’s most influential religions. Opportunities to collect vehicles like this are few and far between.”
If you would like to see the Popemobile in person, it is currently on display in the Petersen Automotive Museum lobby for an extended period. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For general Museum information, call 323.930.CARS or visit the Museum’s Web site address at www.petersen.org.