The Lincoln Continental is a 4-door convertible built specifically for the Pope when he visited India
A 1964 Lincoln Continental used by the then Pope and gifted to Mother Teresa will be part of the 1000 Miglia race in the United Arab Emirates next month. It is driven by UAE-based auto historian Mohammed Luqman Khan, who became famous for finding and restoring Sheikh Zayed’s vintage Rolls Royce. He will be joined as co-driver by the car’s owner, Indian industrialist Yohan Poonawalla.
Khan, who has worked closely with Poonawalla for years to curate his prolific collection, says he’s looking forward to the race. “It will be challenging for sure, but also exciting,” he said. “I’ve lived in the United Arab Emirates for over 12 years, but I’ve never walked the route that this rally goes through. What better way to do that than at this legendary rally known as the most beautiful race?”
The 1000 Miglia – popularly known as the “Mille Miglia” – comes to the UAE for the first time, bringing together 100 of the most unique classic cars. Dubbed the most beautiful race in the world, the race started in Italy in 1927 and is iconic among car enthusiasts.
The Lincoln Continental that the duo will drive is a 4-door convertible built specifically for the Pope when he was visiting India, and is commonly referred to as the ‘Popemobile’.
When Pope Paul IV visited India in 1964 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress, the vehicle was imported for the Pope. The long-wheelbase open-top touring car was considered ideal for a good view of the millions of devotees who thronged the Indian streets to get a glimpse. Photos from the visit show him in the car, which is outfitted with flagpoles on each side.
Before the Pope left India, the Pope gave this Lincoln to Mother Teresa, the Calcutta-based Nobel laureate, who then auctioned it off and donated the proceeds to a charity.
Khan helped Poonawalla acquire the car and has restored it to its original glory. “We changed the color back to the original white hue,” he said. “The original interior has also been retained. It is mechanically in excellent condition and is kept in good condition.”
The luxury car designed by Elwood Engel is the only Lincoln taking part in the rally.
It will be the first time the Mille Miglia has come to the United Arab Emirates and will feature over 100 cars in its inaugural edition – 60 from the Arabian Peninsula and 40 from other countries. According to Martin Halder, CEO of Octanium – one of the organizers of the event – the cars will be divided into three classes:
Original Mille Miglia class: Manufactured between 1927-1957
Jubilee Class: Manufactured between 1957 and 1971 to honor the founding date of the United Arab Emirates
Contemporary Cars: Handpicked unique pieces made after 1971
The event, which runs from December 4th to 8th as an extension of the United Arab Emirates’ National Day celebrations on December 2nd, will see cars race 1600 km through the country’s seven emirates. The racetrack will traverse iconic locations such as Jebel Jais, Downtown Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace.