Buy your own Popemobile and share a seat with the stars

| 6 Aug 2011

Just imagine rolling into the Goodwood paddock – or any classic car event – in this. If its 21ft length doesn't doesn't do all the impressing you want to do, then maybe you could deck it out with cardboard cut-outs of some of its former passengers: Pope Paul VI, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and a host of others (there's room for them all!).

The car, a 1964 Lincoln Continental, was built to orders from the Vatican for the Pope's visit to New York to address the United Nations in October 1965, and the transformation was completed in just two weeks.

As well as the lengthened wheelbase, it has exterior step plates and handrails for security, additional interior seating for aides and prelates, a raised seat for the Pontiff, extra interior lighting, public address system, and auxiliary power from a bank of seven batteries. Plus, of course, a removable roof section and other security measures to protect the Pontiff.

The limo's extraordinary life didn't end with that Papal visit, though. It was loaned to the city of Chicago where it became a parade favourite and then was called into action again when, in 1968, the Vatican requested this car for the Pope's visit to Bogota. The high altitude of the Colombian capital prompted another raft of modifications to the engine, aviation fuel from the Colombian Air Force and a comprehensive kit of tools and spare parts.

But what about the astronauts? On December 27, 1968 the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned space flight to orbit the moon, splashed down in the Pacific. Its astronauts, mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders were fêted with a tickertape parade through Chicago. They rode in this Lehmann-Peterson Lincoln Continental, as would the Apollo 11 (Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin), 13 (Lovell, Mattingly, Haise) and 15 (Scott, Worden, Irwin) astronauts as well.

If you fancy it, Bonhams, which is auctioning the Lincoln at its Quail Lodge sale on 19 August, reckons $250-350,000 will secure it. A lot for a Lincoln limo, but we reckon this one's history could send bidding stratospheric (sorry).