The Popemobile that carted Pope John Paul II around Ireland during his 1979 visit will soon roll into the streets of Dublin, ready for hire.
The papal conveyance has been out of commission for more than 30 years, sitting in the Dublin Wax Museum, but will be available for rentals of the celebratory sort starting in 2013.
Owner Paddy Dunning, who acquired the vehicle after buying the museum a few years ago, put $78,000 into refurbishing the vehicle so it can be used by the public. He plans to rent it out for $325 an hour.
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“We put a Mercedes [chassis] under it so that it can be utilized by the general public. It will be available for sports groups, charity events, and weddings. It’s the new Hummer, the new limo,” Dunning told Time.
Promotional materials also suggest bachelor parties and prom nights as rental options, though Dunning hesitated in talking to Time about such presumably rowdier events.
The Catholic Church has yet to release an official statement on this new use of the “papamobile,” as it’s called in Italian. More than a million people met the pope in Phoenix Park to hear him speak. The pontiff used the opportunity to call for an end to violence in the nation.
The Popemobile was designed specifically by Ford Ireland for John Paul II’s three-day visit to the heavily Catholic nation. The vehicle features an oddly shaped carriage and a platform near the front of the vehicle, where the pope greeted his followers. A papal throne and 14 additional seats for passengers are featured inside.
Dunning hopes the vehicle becomes more of a “Hopemobile,” he told Time, traveling around Ireland and collecting stories from “unsung heroes.” He recently drove his aunt, a nun, and some of her fellow nuns and priests to Dublin airport, telling Time it was a fantastic experience.
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