When Pope Francis chose a Fiat 500L as his official vehicle during his first visit to the United States last year, it made sense. The 500L is a modest car and quite in keeping with the Pontiff’s humility. There was another reason, though, that he picked the tiny wagon, his concern for the environment. Again, it made sense as the 500L is an environment-friendly vehicle.
Practically unused, the 500L that sold at auction yesterday for $82,000 was one of six used by Pope Francis during his to the United States. The visit, which included stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia, was four months ago. During his historic first trip to the US, hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets in the three cities where the Pontiff had scheduled his time.
Yesterday’s auction drew nearly 20 bidders, Automotive News said. The auction kicked off briskly and lasted barely 11 minutes. Described as “Pope Francis’ Philly Fiat,” the Philadelphia auction featured both in-person and online participants. The winning bid was placed by Michael and Kate Chapman of Chapman Auto Stores. The money will benefit projects carried out by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, church officials said. Interestingly, pricing for a 500L starts right around $19,000.
Along with the six Fiats, the Argentina-born Pontiff also used a white Jeep with open sides, also known by commentators as the “Popemobile.” The special Jeep let Pope Francis interact with his parishioners by giving him easy access to the huge crowds that lined up before dawn so that those people would be able to see and talk to Pope Francis. Pope Francis’ itinerary not only included the stops already outlined but also visits and a speech to the United Nations, prisoners and the homeless.