'Popemobile' Plush, Impervious
READY FOR POPE - Sister Jeannette Guevremont takes a picture of the "Popemobile" in Pierreville, Quebec, Thursday. Two of the vehicles, designed to withstand a commando attack, have been built for the September Canadian tour of Pope John Paul II. (UPI)
     MONTREAL (UPI) - Pope John Paul II will tour Canadian cities this September in a 21-foot-long limousine that is ''very discreet, very noble," luxurious and designed to withstand a commando attack.
     Two "Popemobiles" have been built at $130,000 each featuring couch seating for 10, plush red velour carpeting, dual air conditioners, state-of-the-art communications and a special cooling system.
     The gleaming white vehicles will feature the papal crest on both sides and the Vatican flag fluttering from the hoods.
Like Pope's Personality
     "It's very discreet, very noble, like the personality of Pope John Paul II," Claude Gervais, spokesman for manufacturer Pierre Thibault Inc said Thursday.
     Under the body, however, the vehicle was built for battlefield conditions.
     Based on a standard General Motors pickup truck, the five-ton Popemobile is encased in two-inch armor plate and capped with an enclosed cockpit of bulletproof glass that stands 8-3/4 feet high.
     The 11,000-pound vehicle is powered by a modified eight cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Two specially lined gas tanks are impervious to explosives. Special communications equipment and other security apparatus were added.
     Gervais would not say what the vehicles top "Speed is, but points out "it will travel very fast and very low."
"Like a Crash Truck"
     "It's a lot like a crash truck," he said, referring to the compact fire engines used at race tracks and airports for emergencies. "
     Thibault Inc., which builds 60 percent of the world's fire trucks, built two Popemobiles for the Sept. 9-21 papal visit at $130,000 each.
     The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Vatican security and the Conference of Catholic Bishops all had a say in the fina1 product, designed by Arcade Letour of Montreal, Gervais said.
     About 30 of Thibault's 200 employees were assigned to the project. "It's a miracle we got it built it in one month," Gervais said.