Pope Benedict’s Used Volkswagon for Sale on eBay

Popemobile for Sale? (Reuters)

A second hand car once said to be registered in the name of Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger — the new Pope Benedict – is up for sale on eBay and the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to bidding. The vehicle, a metallic gray 1999 Volkswagen Golf, went up for auction on the German site (www.ebay.de) at a minimum price of 9,900 euros ($12,790) Wednesday and, just over 24 hours and more than 300 bids later, the price had temporarily hit one million euros ($1.3 million). German Web Site n-tv.de identified the seller as Benjamin Halbe, 21, from the town of Olpe in Germany’s Sauerland region, who said he bought the car from a local dealer in January. “It drives like heaven,” the site quoted Halbe as saying.

The Web Site of the German newspaper Bild quoted an eBay spokeswoman in Germany as saying the online auctioneer had checked with the vehicle licensing office which had confirmed the name of the original owner was genuine.

Ratzinger, who is from Bavaria in southern Germany, has been at the Vatican for more than two decades and is not known to drive. The Vatican was not available for comment on the auction, which closes on May 5 at 7.30 p.m. (1730 GMT). The auction site describes the vehicle as a two liter petrol-powered manual, with 75,000 km (47,000 miles) on the clock since it was first registered in March 1999.

“Does black smoke or white smoke come out of the exhaust pipe?” one posting on the site asked – a reference to the signal used at the Vatican to show whether a new pope has been elected by the secret conclave of cardinals.


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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.