Saturday, June 22, 2024

2015 Fiat 500L used by Pope Francis could sell for $100,000

Fiat’s dowdy 500L isn’t exactly a champion in terms of resale value; it’s not hard to find a used example for less than $10,000. And yet, auction house RM Sotheby’s is offering a 2015 Lounge model that could sell for up to $100,000. While that’s a tremendous amount of money to pay for a 500L approaching its 10th birthday, the model in question stands out with unusually low mileage and an interesting history.

RM Sotheby’s notes that Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, which later merged with PSA Peugeot-Citroën to form Stellantis, provided the 500L to the Catholic church for the pope’s U.S. visit in September 2015. It’s a choice that makes sense: the 500L is Italian (Vatican City, the Catholic church’s headquarters, is a city-state surrounded by Rome) and it’s relatively spacious. Trying to stuff Pope Francis into a regular 500 would have been far less convenient. It’s also a relatively low-key car: The pope has made it a point to be humble (he once drove a Renault 4). 

Surprisingly, it doesn’t look like there’s anything special about the 500L; it’s seemingly a run-of-the-mill regular-production model. Finished in Grigio Scuro with a body-colored roof, it’s powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s equipped with leather upholstery and a six-speed automatic transmission, but it’s not bulletproof or otherwise modified.

Had it ended up at your nearest CarMax store, it could have easily been written off as just another used car with one possible exception: the mileage. Its odometer displays about 773 miles, which explains why it’s in like-new condition. RM Sotheby’s explains that the 500L was used in the 2016 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City, donated by the Archdiocese of New York to benefit Catholic causes, and purchased by the Dare to Dream Collection. The sale notably includes a copy of a previous title listing the Archdiocese of New York as the legal owner.

Although it’s not quite a Popemobile, the 500L is expected to sell for anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 when it crosses the block in Toronto, Canada, during an auction scheduled to start on May 31. It’s certainly going to look odd next to some of the other cars in the Dare to Dream collection: There’s a 1996 Ferrari F50 that could sell for up to $4.5 million, a 1972 Lamborghini Miura that could bring in $3.5 million, and a 2008 Bugatti Veyron expected to sell for up to $1.75 million, among numerous other high-end cars. Like the entire collection, the 500L is offered without a reserve. The highest bidder will take it home, and the market will ultimately decide how much money it’s worth.

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