Fiat used by Pope Francis in New York is available at auction

Pope Francis waves as he is driven away in a Fiat 500 model after arriving in the United States at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington in this Sept 22, 2015 file photo.
Pope Francis waves as he is driven away in a Fiat 500 model after arriving in the United States at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington in this Sept 22, 2015 file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS
Pope Francis waves as he departs Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in a Fiat 500 after arriving for his first trip to the US in this Sept 22, 2015 file photo.
Pope Francis waves as he departs Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in a Fiat 500 after arriving for his first trip to the US in this Sept 22, 2015 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - It's a rare chance to own a mini-Popemobile, but the price tag of the four-door hatchback is steep: US$195,000 (S$263,000) as of Wednesday (March 30), with a day to go in bidding.

The black Fiat 500 Lounge was one of two that ferried Pope Francis around New York last September during his first visit to the most populous city in the United States, New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told AFP.

"We never had cars like this left behind for us to use," he said.

"We were presented this unique opportunity, and decided to continue the work that was highlighted during the Pope's visit here in New York."

The Charitybuzz auction website lists details like the car's fuel efficiency, fixed glass roof and premium seats.

But would-be bidders are likely more interested in its connection with the Pope, which the auction website said has been verified by the Secret Service and will be confirmed in a letter by the Archdiocese of New York.

Proceeds will go to Catholic schools and charities in the New York diocese, as well as two international agencies: Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

The auction ends Thursday at 3.00 pm local time (1900 GMT).

"In a couple of occasions, (Pope Francis) was in the Popemobile. For the rest of his time, when he was not in the Popemobile, this is how he travelled around in the motorcade," Zwilling said.

The second Fiat will also be used to raise money for charitable causes, although plans have not been set, Zwilling said.

The auction comes after a Fiat used by the Pope in the eastern US city of Philadelphia was sold for US$82,000 at a gala in late January.

The Fiat 500 Lounge base price is US$24,695, the auction site said.