It’s no surprise that Joe Six-Pack is a car guy. I’ve held forth on the fact that I enjoy planes, trains, and automobiles before.
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a gearhead. So when I saw the story from the Catholic News Service that a priest up and gave his old car to Pope Francis, I was pretty jazzed. It’s a 1984 vintage Renault 4, with 186,000 miles on the clock. Or maybe it’s kilometers.
At least it’s the right color!
Awwww. Ain’t it cute?
Check out the specs,
engine type: naturally aspirated petrol (ed. methane!)
engine manufacturer: Renault
cylinders: Straight 4
capacity: 1.1 litre
(67.614 cu in)!!
bore × stroke 70 × 72 mm
2.76 × 2.83 in
bore/stroke ratio: 0.97
valve gear: OHV
2 valves per cylinder
8 Total valves
maximum power output
(din) 34.5 PS (34 bhp) (25.4 kW)
at 4000 rpm
(din): 30.7 bhp/litre
0.5 bhp/cu in
(din) 74 Nm (55 ft·lb) (7.5 kgm)
at 2500 rpm
(din) 66.79 Nm/litre
compression ratio: 9.5:1
fuel system: 1 Ze carb
bmep (brake mean effective pressure): 839.3 kPa (121.7 psi)
maximum rpm: as fast as your feet will pedal.
crankshaft bearings 3
engine coolant: Water
unitary capacity: 277 cc
catalytic converter N
Would you believe this story involves a letter and a phone call too? Naturally. Take it away, CNS.
The pope didn’t get his new wheels on eBay. Father Zocca said he wrote the pope, saying he wanted to meet him, donate his car, and tell him about his ministry: living and working for 25 years in a run-down, working-class neighborhood in Verona — the northern Italian city made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Instead of feuding family rivalries, however, Father Zocca had to face off violent drug pushers who were destroying young people’s lives and leaving the priest death threats. Not even getting stabbed would stop the priest, who said, “I wanted to embody the (Second Vatican) Council in that parish in the outskirts, which has been the center of my life.”
With both parents dead at 35 years old, Father Zocca raised his 14-year-old brother. He revitalized the community and built centers for the poor, disabled and the elderly. He and his brother lived in government housing, and with an apartment on the 9th-floor, “I would joke that I lived in the highest rectory in Italy.”
Then on August 10 at 10:19 a.m., Father Zocca got a call on his cell from the pope. Pope Francis had gotten the priest’s letter and they spent half an hour talking about the priest’s work “in the peripheries,” as the pope has repeatedly called today’s priests to go. Father Zocca reiterated his offer that he had this white Renault in the garage that had been his faithful companion for decades as he drove all over Verona and Italy for his ministry.
The pope was unsure, the priest said, and suggested the priest give it to the poor.
“I answered that this car had already given much to the poor and now it had to go to the pope.” He told the magazine that he wanted to give the pope something that was a testimony to his experience and ministry of going into the outskirts “and what a better gift than my Renault 4?” he said.
When the pope was sure Father Zocca had another car to use, the pope pulled out his appointment book, leafed through the pages and started listing the days and times he would be free in early September. With the appointment set for Sept. 7 at 3 p.m, Father Zocca had his mechanic, Stefano, give the car a tune-up, clean the spark plugs and put air in the tires. The car also runs on methane so “the Vatican won’t have to worry about high gas prices,” the priest said.
On Saturday, the car was loaded on a tow truck with the priest and about 100 townsfolk, including the mechanic, following along on a chartered bus to Rome.
It runs on methane? Or is it methanol? Somebody buy that gearhead priest a beer! He’s been under the hood, messing with carburetors and stuff.
You know, the upside of owning this Renault is that since it puts out only 30 horsepower, Pope Francis’s security detail can keep up with him pretty easily. Maybe even by just jogging.
Idea! Maybe I’ll write Pope Francis and see if he’d be interested in the Mustang. That way, he can really give his security detail the slip.
On second thought, he tends to call people back, so I better not.
Happy motoring, il Papa.