The days of the bullet-proof Popemobile are long gone – the cars Pope Francis travelled in during his visit to Africa are no exception. So what can we deduce from his rides?
1. Honda Ballade Sedan
This fairly ordinary car took the Pope around Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Kenya’s The Star newspaper describes it as “humble”.
Motoring journalist Guy Bird thinks it is “deemed to be sensible” showing a “broad concern about the economy”. “It isn’t flash,” he adds. Fellow motoring journalist Zog Ziegler is concerned that it isn’t too spacey. “There isn’t much room for his papal robes in there – they aren’t spoiling him”.
That may be having an effect, speculates Quartz’s Ariel Zirulnick. She writes that the Pope “earned the adoration of Kenyans” in this ride which is “a stark contrast to the luxury SUVs and limousines in which leaders here usually get around”.
2. Kia Soul
This South Korean brand, which picked up the Pope in Uganda’s Entebbe airport, sells well around the world and is “little bit up from the Honda” says Mr Ziegler.
But it is still another relatively inexpensive car, notes Mr Bird. He is also impressed with the 4×4 crossover’s high roof, which he thinks should have made papal waving easier.
And he muses whether the name of the car has any meaning.
3. Mitsubishi L200
That curved glass is expensive, notes Mr Ziegler. “And it’s not for security as it’s open on the sides”.
It’s probably more of a wind shield “to stop his hat falling off” he speculates. The curved glass is not the only extravagance – despite not being a “showy” brand, Mitsubishis aren’t cheap, he says.
They are durable and “can go anywhere” he adds. And this is something that Mr Bird agrees on.
“A pick-up is something a farmer would use – they are sending a message out that he is a regular guy,” says Mr Bird.
4. Modified Toyota Land Cruiser
None of these brands can be described as glitzy, says Mr Bird. But this Toyota, which took the Pope around the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui, is several generations old, he notes.
It’s made by the world’s largest car company, points out Mr Ziegler. “It’s a bit cheap,” he says. “It looks like they’ve just added a bit of chipboard on the top”.
But he says there is one big thing going for it – it’s “very, very tough, possibly [more so] than the Mitsubishi”.
It all adds to the image Mr Bird thinks the Pope is giving off – he is in a functional vehicle, getting a job done.
There is one more thing these cars have in common – the licence plate SCV 1. This is an abbreviation of the Italian and Latin names for Vatican City, Stato della Citta del Vaticano and Status Civitatis Vaticanae.