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#Kyalami9Hour: An A to Z guide

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You have to see this bakkie! Nissan takes its NP300 and turns it into a 'Popemobile'

2019-09-30 14:51

Compiled by Charlen Raymond

nissan np300,pope,

Image: MotorPress

A Nissan NP300 Hardbody provided the basis for a unique ‘Popemobile’ for Pope Francis’s final stop, the island of Mauritius, on his three-country visit to Africa in September 2019.

Since 1965, the Roman Catholic Church has been using specially built cars for the pontiff, but the so-called ‘pope-mobile’ complete with viewing deck which officially replaced the hand carried has been in use since 1978.

Several manufacturers have had the honour of making vehicles over the years, but this was the first time the honour fell to Nissan and more specifically, Nissan’s Mauritian NSC ABC Motors.

nissan np300,pope,

                                 Image: MotorPress

Special specifications

The Nissan NP300 Hardbody was supplied by ABC Motors and sent to its subsidiary company, ABC Coachworks, to be modified according to Vatican specifications. 

ABC Automobile Managing Director Dean Ah-Chuen, says: “ABC Automobile, as one big family, put all its heart into the design of a Popemobile worthy of this name and of Vatican’s standard. We were and still are amazed by the outcome of three months of pure hard work. We felt an immense sense of belonging and accomplishment when we watched His Holiness in this Popemobile we made with our own hands.

"We are so proud for having contributed, in our own way, to the arrival of the Pope."

WATCH: NP300 bakkie drops to bottom in latest SA crash tests - Nissan responds

Jim Dando, Nissan Group of Africa’s director of Sales and Operations, said the Vatican’s decision to use the legendary Nissan Hardbody was a fantastic testament to the vehicle’s enduring longevity and popularity across all African markets.

He said: “I’m particularly pleased too about the honour that was accorded ABC Motors. They have been the Nissan NSC on the island country for 34 years – and in the last 19 years they have been the market leader every year, except for two. Normally a market has a leader at around 30% market share with one to two rivals chasing them. In Mauritius though, ABC leads perhaps the most competitive market in Africa – and that includes South Africa - with between 14 and 16% market share, which means that there are five competitors biting at their heels."

The Nissan NP 300 Hardbody, with its unique SCV1 number plates - an abbreviation of the Latin Status Civitatis Vaticanae (Vatican City State), will be put on permanent display by the diocese as a memento of the pope’s visit to the island.

nissan np300,pope,

                                 Image: MotorPress

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