The first “Popemobile”, or rather the white off-road vehicle used by the Pontiff for brief journeys and in order to be seen by crowds, appeared immediately after the 1976 Jubilee and was used sporadically by Pope Paul VI, although it was not yet referred to using the term “Popemobile”.
John Paul I never used it, while Pope John Paul II, who refused to use the sedan chair, favoured it straight away.
The first example of the “Popemobile”, therefore, was the Toyota Land Cruiser, followed by the Fiat Campagnola, sadly associated with the attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life in St. Peter’s Square on 13 May 1981.
Immediately after the assassination attempt, the level of security and personal protection for the Holy Father was increased and a new armoured version of the Popemobile appeared. Examples of the latter include both the Land Rover Santana and the Mercedes-Benz 230 GE which entered into use in 1983 and 1990 respectively, and remained in service until 2002.