Humble beginnings: Pope John Paul II’s Ford hitting auction block

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This 1976 Ford Escort 1100 GL sedan was the last car owned by Pope Saint John Paul II before he was elected to the Papacy in 1978. It will be sold at an auction over Labor Day weekend. | RM Sotheby's Photo
This 1976 Ford Escort 1100 GL sedan was the last car owned by Pope Saint John Paul II before he was elected to the Papacy in 1978. It will be sold at an auction over Labor Day weekend. | RM Sotheby's Photo

It’s not quite the Popemobile, but a 1976 Ford Escort 1100GL once owned by Pope Saint John Paul II will roll onto an auction block later this year.

In a news release, RM Auctions said the car would be part of its annual Auburn Fall event held during the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival from August 31 to September 2 at the Auburn Auction Park in northeastern Indiana.

“The papal Ford Escort represents a rare collecting opportunity and the ultimate conversation piece,” Gord Duff, global head of auctions for RM Sotheby’s Group, said in the release.

The Escort was the last car John Paul II -– who was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland –- drove before he was elected to the Papacy in 1978. It was first sold to support Vatican charities in the mid-1990s and has been in storage since.

This time around, the all-original car is being sold without reserve and was expected to fetch between $150,000 and $300,000. All proceeds will be donated to the John M. O’Quinn Foundation, an organization that focuses on conservation, education, health and other programs that benefit underprivileged youth in the Houston, Texas, area.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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