VATICAN CITY—Pope John Paul II, who owned the Popemobile for more than a quarter of a century, passed away last Saturday. "The Popemobile was known the world over," said Peter Egan, a writer for Road & Track. "A fine example of European craftsmanship, the hand-built, 4.3 litre, V-8 powered, pearl-gray vehicle was exceptionally well-loved, even more so after the bulletproof bubble was added in 1981 to safeguard its passengers against assassination attempts. During the time he owned the Popemobile, John Paul II visited more than 120 countries. He loved the open road." The specially altered Mercedes-Benz ML-series off-road vehicle has been maintained by papal staff since the pope fell ill in August 2004. The pope's will is expected to grant its use to either the next pope or John Paul II's young cousin Zbigniew.
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