Auctioned Ford Bronco Inspired by the Popemobile Raises $500K To Fight Homelessness

2021 Ford Bronco Pope Francis Center
Proceeds from the sale of the 2021 Ford Bronco Pope Francis Center benefit the Pope Francis Center in Detroit. Ford Motor Company

A unique Ford Bronco inspired by the Popemobile was auctioned off at the annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona last night. Proceeds from the sale benefit Detroit's Pope Francis Center, a charity committed to solving homelessness in Detroit by 2030.

The $500,000 hammer price of the 2021 Bronco Pope Francis Center First Edition custom build brought the audience to its feet on the first day of the auction, which runs through the weekend.

"It's an honor to be able to help support a great charity like the Pope Francis Center," said Steve Gilmore, chief designer, Ford Vehicle Personalization. "Father Timothy McCabe and the team at the center were really instrumental in this project, collaborating on theme ideas and colors. The key was finding those special touches that really speak to the heritage of the '66 Bronco, and then combining them with some of the modern features on a Bronco First Edition."

Lot #3001 was introduced by Henry Ford III, grandson of the automotive titan, and Aaron Shelby, grandson of the legendary Carroll Shelby. The model was donated for auction by David Fischer Jr., president & CEO at The Suburban Collection Holdings, LLC.

1980 Ford Bronco Pope John Paul II
The product that inspired the 2021 Ford Bronco Pope Francis Center was this 1980 Bronco that was customized for use by Pope John Paul II. Ford Motor Company

The design of the one-off 2021 model was inspired by a 1980 Bronco that was specially modified for use by Pope John Paul II on his visit to the U.S. in October 1979. That model, painted Wimbledon White, featured an open-air rear compartment that allowed the Pope to stand and greet crowds as he traveled. After the Pope's visit, the model's ownership was turned over to the United States Secret Service.

The customized 2021 four-door Bronco model wears a Wimbledon White exterior paint job. The color was featured on the 1966 Bronco, but is not available in today's lineup.

Custom wheels wear a matching Wimbledon White finish and Rapid Red stripe at the center thanks to Detroit Steel Wheels. That stripe matches the SUV's bodyside striping and hood corners.

The face of the Bronco's grille, the upper portion of the front bumper, and other bits have been painted silver to add to the vehicle's vintage appearance. A rooftop lightbar, side pod lights and wheel-well rock lights beef up the model's exterior appearance.

A unique set of Bronco First Edition graphics rounds out the exterior changes from the traditional Bronco. They are Rapid Red in color and place the Pope Francis Center name alongside "First Edition".

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The interior has been modded as well. It gets a MOLLE strap system on the inner swing-gate, a Wimbledon White-painted instrument panel with vent accents, grab handles and red Bronco brand lettering. Seating and door trim has been changed over to white vinyl with contrasting black seat surround and interior trim.

A vehicle cover and storage bags for tube doors were also included.