Car manufacturers are giant, faceless corporate behemoths with a complete sense-of-humour bypass from the boardroom down, right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes a loose cannon in the PR department decides to show the human side of a global car brand and April Fools’ Day is a surprisingly popular time to do it.
Despite what you might have guessed, car manufacturers love an April Fools’ Day joke. Their pranks usually take the form of a spurious advert or press release about some unlikely new model or technology breakthrough.
These pun-laden flights of fancy then lie in wait for any unsuspecting person who’s failed to check their calendar or consume the requisite gallon of coffee on April 1st morning.
There’s a cluster of new April Fools’ Day efforts from car companies every year and while some are scarcely worthy of the term ‘joke’, others live long in the memory. These are the best April Fools Day jokes from car companies, as wistfully remembered by the team at Auto Express…
April Fools Day 2015: the cream of the crop
Ford’s massive Mustang shrubbery
In one of the more elaborate April Fools stings of 2015, Ford produced a spoof breaking news video about a farmer so besotted with the Ford Mustang muscle car that he planted a giant shrubbery in the shape of the car’s iconic badge. The report claims that the painstakingly laid out prancing pony is visible from planes landing at Stansted Airport and there’s even a happy ending for our fictitious farmer because the Mustang is indeed coming to the UK this year.
Skoda’s chameleon car
On April 1st 2015, Skoda revealed the solution to the age old car buying question, what colour should i choose? The answer being ‘all of them’.
The brand announced a Colour Concept system, a £500 option on the Fabia supermini that allows buyers to mix and match body, roof and wheel colours with appalling results. Better still, the ShadeChange function lets you change the colour of individual body panels at the touch of a button. According to Dr Gio Kyng of Prague University, “each panel is coated with a microscopic layer of unobtainium – a newly discovered element that changes colour when a small electrical charge is applied to it.”
Nissan’s GYM button
Nissan announced a new way for drivers of its cars to fight the flab when behind the wheel for April Fools’ Day 2015. The GYM button disables labour saving gadgets like power steering and increases the force required to operate the pedals and gearbox. Suddenly your drive to work becomes a blood vessel bursting workout capable of burning an average of 1,415 calories a day.
Vauxhall’s mobile kebab shop taxi
Vauxhall announced a breakthrough for the evening entertainment industry for April Fools’ 2015. The Taxi Kebabi is a 9-seater Vauxhall Vivaro Combi taxi with built-in kebab shop. The van comes with bold ‘Abra Kebabra’ exterior decals and a couple of chicken doner Kebabs rotating gentley in the boot.
As well as the two gas-fired spit rotisserie grills, the modified Vivaro is said to have salad bowls integrated into the arm rests, chilli dispensers and of course a tasty selection of sauces. The quote for this one came from taxi driver Jason Donervan “With Vivaro’s class-leading whole life costs, this incredible vehicle offers us hard-pushed drivers another valuable revenue stream that could ultimately see taxi fares being slashed.”
Mercedes’ AMG Sprinter
Mercedes was quick out of the blocks for April Fools’ Day 2015 with a spurious rendering of a Mercedes-AMG Sprinter63 S circulated on social media. The panel van was claimed to be packing a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 503bhp, enough to get any red-blooded delivery driver hot under the collar. Sports suspension, a full body kit and upgraded wheels completed the package but it would be hard to imagine any sane employer footing the fuel bill.
Volkswagen’s extra tiny van
April Fools’ Day 2015 really did bring the van manufacturers out in force, even the usually straight-laced Volkswagen. The German brand proposed the Caddy Maxi Mini, a 2.4m long micro van with one seat and only enough room for a tool box or the driver’s lunch. Basically, you could take more with you if you got the bus.
To top it all, VW quoted its head of commercial vehicle product development, Dr. Avin A’laf. “We see the Caddy Maxi Mini as our equivalent of the chocolate bars at the supermarket checkout. We hope that when customers come and buy one of our multi-award-winning full-size vans, they’ll add a Caddy Maxi Mini as a little treat.”
April Fools Day: best efforts from years past
Skoda’s hairy Yeti
Skoda introduced us to the Yeti Ice special edition for April Fools’ Day 2014. The car features a special faux fur finish developed by Skoda engineers working in the Himalayas. The press release, which came complete with quotes from Skoda experts Dr Yu Ciddingme and Prof Lukat Thedate, explained that personalisation options including side partings and fur extensions are available.
Red Bull F1 in race tweeting technology
— Red Bull Motorsports (@redbullmotors) April 1, 2014
Red Bull announced a new addition to its F1 steering wheel for April Fools’ Day 2014 – technology that would allow drivers to tweet during a race. Fittingly announced via the medium of Twitter, the new wheel was billed as the perfect way to let F1 drivers stay in touch with their fans.
Vauxhall’s Brazilian World Cup Astra
Vauxhall attempted to dupe the nation with a special edition Astra Copacabana tied-in with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The footballer graphics on the flanks and giant Brazilian flag on the roof are just about believable. The turf-covered seats, sand-filled footwells and on-board cocktail vending machine inside, less so.
Mazda’s four-seater MX-5
We’re excited to share with you the first picture of the all-new Mazda MX-5 4 seater. pic.twitter.com/TYsg9UphtP
— Mazda UK (@Mazda_UK) April 1, 2014
The nippy little Mazda MX-5 can now be enjoyed by the whole family – thanks to Mazda’s introduction of the four-seater version on April Fool’s Day 2014. That extra-long wheelbase and extra weight shouldn’t affect handling too much, right?
BMW’s Force Injection Booster
BMW announced a new system that puts the thrill back in to driving for April Fools Day 2014. It claimed that the Force Injection Booster works by “extracting kinetic energy from the car’s engine and converting it into positive g-forces”. The effect being that drivers can experience the thrill of high speed driving even at modest speeds of just 20mph.
Additional BMW ‘AirNet’ technology works to keep occupants hairdos in tiptop condition while all this is going on. In the press release Professor Mika Notbetrü, Head of BMW Innovation, described FIB technology as “Mind-blowingly unbelievable”.
ChipsAway’s dent repair app
According to smart repair specialists ChipsAway, you can now repair damage to your car’s bodywork with their new mobile phone app. It’s the kind of technology that would put companies like ChipsAway out of business on a flash but it’s also an April Fools’ joke. Nice video though.
MINI’s Cooper T
You’ve heard of the Cooper S and Cooper D MINI models, well MINI asked you to suspend disbelief to accommodate a Cooper T on April Fools’ Day 2014. It sounds plausible until you learned the car supposedly runs on tea.
Capable of covering 40 miles on a single cup and equipped with Dunk Avoidance Technology to prevent unscrupulous individuals from lowering biscuits into the fuel tank, the Cooper T was a tough one to swallow.
Peugeot’s Audio Sonic Personalisation Programme for car horns
Peugeot announced a new personalisation option for its cars in April 1st 2014. The Audio Sonic Personalisation Programme for car horns invited customers to record their own sounds for their car’s horn that would “reflect their taste and character” so that “everyone can enjoy a truly individual horn”. An accompanying video showed the technology in action.
SEAT’s electro reflective’ exterior panel finish
SEAT came over all James Bond with its 2008 April Fools’ Day joke. A press release revealed the manufacturer had developed a groundbreaking ‘electro reflective’ exterior panel finish that could adapt to mimic the car’s surroundings. There was no word on how owners would find their car again once they’d parked it.
Hyundai’s i10 Popemobile
Hyundai treated us to an unlikely modified version of its i10 city car in on April Fools Day 2009. The premise behind the i10 Special Project Popemobile was that the the head of the catholic church wanted to get around in something more environmentally-friendly than the usual armourplated SUVs.
The game was given away by Hyundai’s press release small print that claimed, “all leather from the seat facings was replaced with parts of tapestry woven by monks from the Indian city of Utta Bullacs”.
BMW’s M3 pick-up truck
When is an April Fools’ Day joke not an April Fools Day joke, When it’s a BMW M3 pick-up.
BMW lifted the lid on this 414bhp V8 ute based on its M3 Convertible in 2011, proudly announcing that there was enough space in the back for 20 golf bags!
We sniggered but it turned out that the M3 pick-up was real. It was subsequently spotted lapping the Nurburgring and, weighting 50kg less than an M3 Coupe, is said to be capable of 186mph.
Vauxhall’s Accelerator Pedal Retarding Intervention Lump
In 2006 Vauxhall announced a neat optional extra for its Astra VXR hot hatch (on April 1st). The Accelerator Pedal Retarding Intervention Lump was a detachable chunk of the floor mat that sat underneath the throttle pedal and prevented drivers from giving it the full potatoes.
Vauxhall claimed that under extensive testing, the ‘lump’ reduced the VXR’s normal 6.2 second 0-62mph time to a far more stately and environmentally-friendly 14.06 seconds. Cheap but effective.
Kia KEE_Wii kills the steering wheel
In 2008 Kia looked to capitalise on the success of the Nintendo Wii games console with a KEE_Wii concept car April Fools’ Day joke.
Kia said that the car had a portable controller instead of the conventional steering wheel and pedals. This enabled it to be driven from any of its four seats, even by the kids in the back. “It seems obvious to us that if children as young as eight can drift, rally and race their way to multiple world championships on a games console, then this new driving system will be simple enough for anyone to use,” said the blurb.
Coming from the manufacturer responsible for the cee’d and the pro_cee’d, nobody batted an eyelid at the KEE_Wii’s silly name but five-year-olds driving cars was a step too far.
Land Rover’s self-levelling tax disc
Land Rovers are known for the extreme unnatural angles they can achieve off-road without toppling over but, as we all know, that can present a huge problem for anyone wanting to read the car’s tax disc. This was the thinking behind Land Rover’s 2011 self-levelling tax disc joke.
The British brand even went to the trouble of creating a video of the launch of the pivoting tax-disc holder. In the film, it claimed that the device was designed by a Mr Joe King, of all people.
Kia really pushed the Photoshop boat out in generating the images of its Aero-Soul April Fools’ gag in 2009. The car was said to be modified with a new ‘Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line system’ that harness the power of the wind to save fuel.
SEAT Aero-Tonto wind turbine
SEAT probably put a lot of thought into its wind turbine-equipped Ibiza Ecomotive April Fools’ effort in 2009 but little did they know that it was destined to be comprehensively overshadowed by Kia’s spectacular Aero-Soul.
The Aero-Tonto system is based on a similar false premise of harnessing the power of the wind to boost efficiency. SEAT claimed that the turbine on the roof generated enough energy to power the car’s high beam headlights at 24 mph. You wouldn’t want to take it through a car wash though.
BMW’s Political Roundel Attachment Tag
As election fever gripped the country in 2010, BMW looked to cash in with a political April Fools’ Day effort. The Political Roundel Attachment Tag (PRAT) was an opportunity for BMW drivers to show their allegiance to a political party by changing the colours on their car’s badges.
Auto Windscreens prescription windscreen
It’s not just car manufacturers that like an April Fools’ Day prank. In 2010 Auto Windscreens revisited an old joke by announcing the world’s first prescription windscreen. There was even a mocked-up video and publicity shot featuring British Touring Car Driver Tom Chilton.
Tailored to the individual’s ophthalmic prescription the windscreen was created to eliminate the need for drivers to wear their glasses or contact lenses at the wheel. The Auto Windscreens press release even went so far as to claim that each screen came with a giant cleaning cloth.
BMW’s Magnetic Tow Technology
Another classic BMW April Fools joke was the 2009 announcement of Magnetic Tow Technology.
The system purported to use a magnetic field that would allow BMW drivers to creep up behind other traffic and latch on for a fuel-saving ride. “For once, we’re happy to be behind the competition,” said the tagline on BMW’s spoof ad.
What’s the best car-related April Fools joke you’ve seen? Tell us all about it in the comments section below…