The iconic Popemobile is set to return to action at this year’s Leyland Festival
The 24 ton truck, which was built for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Lancashire in 1982, was out of action at last year’s festival due to reported high costs in getting it back on the road.
It was being stored at Leyland’s DAF Assembly Plant, with a £1,000 figure reported to get it roadworthy.
But after extensive refurbishments to the vehicle’s home, the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in King Street, Leyland, the transformation of the interior of the museum has helped to secure the vast collection of motor heritage for generations to come.
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Leyland Festival Committee Chairman, Tony Harrison, said: “The Popemobile is a historic, unique vehicle. It is the pride of Leyland and represents the town’s rich commercial vehicle heritage.
“We are delighted to have the Popemobile lead parade once again this year.”
The Popemobile – or ‘Papamobile’ in Italian – is a truck-based vehicle specially created by Leyland Motors for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the UK in 1982.
The custom-made towering vehicle was designed by Ogle Design of Letchworth to give audiences a clear view of the Pope as he travelled around Lancashire and the wider country, with crowds of more than one million plus expected.
The 24 ton truck has bullet proof glass and under-floor armour to protect the Pope during his visit. The body design incorporates low ballistic material to repel small firearms.
Its Leyland Constructor Chassis was chosen for its renown off-road capability and speed if an emergency arose.
The Mayor and Mayoress of South Ribble, Coun Harry Hancock and his wife Marion, will be aboard the Popemobile as it leads the 2019 festival parade.
British Commercial Vehicle Museum Manager, Keith Moyes, said: “It is one of many treasured exhibits in our family-friendly museum.
We hope that as well as enjoying the festival celebrations, visitors will also come to our newly refurbished museum and see what we have to offer.”
Leyland Festival returns on Saturday, June 15. For more information visit https://www.leylandfestival.co.uk/