Philly Auto Show opens with benefit tonight

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 One of the Fiats that ferried Pope Francis around Washington, New York and Philadelphia in September will be up for auction at a Philadelphia Car Show benefit. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

One of the Fiats that ferried Pope Francis around Washington, New York and Philadelphia in September will be up for auction at a Philadelphia Car Show benefit. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Auto Show will open to the general public Saturday, but a Friday night black-tie benefit will feature the auction of one of the cars used by Pope Francis during his September visits to the U.S. 

The other will be on display during the show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

David Kelleher, chairman of the 2016 show and a car dealer himself, promised the best show ever.

“We have 700 vehicles, it’s the old rank and file,” he said. “You come to see the car you want to buy,  and you can do it 10 feet away without a salesperson.”

During the Friday event, organizers will auction the Fiat that ferried Pope Francis around town in September — and Kelleher is hoping to raise big money for charity.

Half the proceeds will go to Catholic Charities for family, housing, and homeless services. The second 50 percent will be split among Mercy Hospice, a recovery home for women and children; la Casa del Carmen, a family service center in North Philadelphia; and four special-education schools in the archdiocese.

Kelleher said he has no idea how much bidders will be willing to pay for the car that retails for about $20,000.

“Where do you put the number on history?” he said. “I can tell you I think we have a real solid shot at returning six figures.”

Kelleher is among the dealers who will vie to buy the Fiat with a plan to put the vehicle on display in their showrooms. Others just want the car as a piece of history.

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