Not long ago, we were perusing RM Sotheby’s various lot listings and drooling over all the precious metal that we’ll never be able to afford.
Among a sea of Ferraris with perfect patina and overpriced air cooled Porsches sat a 1976 Ford Escort GL sedan that the auction house predicted would sell for up to $300,000. Not only was this little 1.1-liter Ford unassuming – it was a bit ratty, sporting a rather large dent on its front passenger side door, faded paint and a somewhat rusty engine bay. Confused, we reached out to RM Sotheby’s looking for more information, but we never heard back. We were left scratching our heads, but the mystery has now been solved: this old Escort was once owned by Saint Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II owned the baby blue Escort just before he moved into the papal position in 1978. It’s not clear what happened to the vehicle directly after his election, but an NBC News report from 2005 indicates it was sold to one Jim Rich at auction in 1996 for $102,000. Rich intended to display the vehicle at his Chicago restaurant, but wound up using it as his daily driver after falling on hard times. He then sold the vehicle to wealthy car collector John O’Quinn for a significant $690,000, who has seemingly held onto it ever since.
RM Sotheby’s will sell the vehicle at its upcoming Auburn Fall auction, which will be held over Labor Day weekend. It’s no longer worth quite as much as it was in 2005, but that’s likely due to the fact that Pope John Paul II had just recently passed at the time O’Quinn purchased it. It remains valuable, especially for a run down old Escort, and is presented in a similar condition to when ‘Saint John Paul the Great’ owned it – dents, steelie wheels and all.
Even if the Escort doesn’t sell for $300,000, it will likely still be one of the most valuable second-generation Escorts on the planet if it can find a new home later this summer.
Photos via Darin Schnabel ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
a version of this article first appeared on AutoGuide