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Ford designs “Popemobile” throwback to auction off for Catholic charity

J-P Mauro - published on 01/26/22

All proceeds will go to the Pope Francis Center's mission to end homelessness in Detroit.

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Ford Motor Company has joined Detroit’s Pope Francis Center in its mission to eradicate chronic homelessness in the city by 2030. The Michigan-based car company has customized a Ford Bronco that is designed after the 1980 model, which was retrofitted into a popemobile for Pope St. John Paul II’s 1979 trip to America. Now the one-of-a-kind SUV is headed to the auction block to raise money for the charity. 

The custom-built Bronco started out as a standard 2021 four-door donated by David Fischer Jr., president & CEO at The Suburban Collection Holdings, LLC. Although no pope has ever ridden in it, every inch is brimming with papal influence.

It has been modified with the classic Wimbledon White paint, a color not seen on the Bronco since 1966. The “Bronco Pope Francis Center First Edition” nods to the past with custom Detroit Steel Wheels with Rapid Red Stripe and iconic silver-painted elements for a heritage inspired look. The sleek “First Edition” emblems emblazoned on the sides emphasize that this is an altogether unique vehicle. 

Ford’s Chief Designer, Steve Gilmore, said of the partnership:

It’s an honor to be able to help support a great charity like the Pope Francis Center. Father Timothy McCabe and the team at the center were really instrumental in this project, collaborating on theme ideas and colors. The key was finding those special touches that really speak to the heritage of the ’66 Bronco, and then combining them with some of the modern features on a Bronco First Edition.”

JPII’s popemobile

While it was certainly inspired by the popemobile of old, it doesn’t have the exact look. The 1980 model had removed the back canopy so that the Holy Father could stand in back as it moved. Further, the rear gate would swing down to reveal stairs. The whole bed of the truck was surrounded with handlebars for JPII to anchor himself. It was a unique piece of Bronco history that was handed over to the Secret Service after the papal visit. 

The new car is not so open, but its sleek design strikes a nice balance between modern and retro. It is scheduled to go up for auction at an annual Barrett-Jackson auction on January 27, at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Visit the auction house website to see how to bid

Pope Francis Center

The Pope Francis Center has been working to aid Detroit’s homeless population for 30 years. What began as a lone pastor opening church doors to homeless to help them escape a particularly nasty storm has snowballed into an enormous operation.

The Center’s primary function is to tend to the needs of the homeless with food, hygenic supplies, and clinics. According to their website, in a given year they serve 109,000 meals, provide 6,000 showers, and wash 2,500 loads of laundry. Since the world pandemic began, the Pope Francis Center has also been working to ensure the homeless are vaccinated.

All proceeds of the auction will go to help fund the Pope Francis Center. Click here to learn more about their mission to end homelessness in Detroit

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CharityPope
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