The world’s car manufacturers aren’t generally known for their senses-of-humour but once a year the various PR departments are given licence to cut loose and exhibit the human side of their particular faceless corporate behemoth through the medium of an April Fools joke.
In case you didn’t know, many car firms love an April Fools gag as much as the rest of us and they’ve churned out some memorable (and best forgotten) attempts at duping the public over the years. These April 1st pranks usually take the form of a spurious advert or press release about some unlikely new model or technology breakthrough the brand has supposedly been working on.
These pun-laden flights of fancy then lie in wait for any unsuspecting punter 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 relatively long in the memory. These are the best April Fools Day jokes from car companies, as wistfully remembered by the team at Auto Express...
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MINI chose to target its 2016 April Fools effort at the growing ‘hipster’ market, offering us the “world premier of the MINI Hipster hatch”. The spoof car features ‘Instagram filtered windows’, ‘a twin-deck cassette player’ and ‘stonewash denim upholstery’ - all features that any self-respecting Hoxton trendster would love. MINI also claims a fixed-gear drivetrain for the car to match the hipster’s retro cool bicycle of choice and offered comments from the “senior external product launch experience curator at MINI UK”, Ivana Newcarr.
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Vauxhall claimed to have entered a new era of “zero running costs and emissions” this year with the launch of its Adam C. Closer inspection reveals that this is the world’s first full size wind-up car and Vauxhall’s in-house jokers reckon a 15-minute wind powers it for a range of 125 miles. An added bonus is apparently that “by exercising your chest, shoulders, arms and core muscles, a 65kg person can expect to burn over 400 calories in just 15 minutes of winding”.
The man behind the design was ‘Mick Cannical’, Vauxhall’s Chief Kinetics Engineer. I think we’d rather get the bus.
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With emoji symbols now infiltrating all aspects of modern life, Honda couldn’t resist weighing-in with the Emoji numberplate. Here smilie faces and other nonsensical pics replace traditional letters and numbers. Honda claimed the plates are a response to demand from younger buyers and that “talks are planned with the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency in an endeavour to exclusively launch the new plates in early 2017”. Good luck in that meeting guys.
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There’s a pull-out umbrella in the door of the Skoda Superb executive saloon so the logical next stem is to install a second rain shield for use by dogs. Skoda took just that leap for April Fools day claiming that there would be “No more soggy Shih Tzus or damp Daschunds thanks to innovative design”.
The press release also treated us to the ramblings of ŠKODA project leader Dr Jacques Rustle. “British rain is officially the wettest in the world, so we knew this accessory would have big appeal with owners in the UK. During development, we captured large quantities of British rain and brought it back to our workshop in the Czech Republic before signing the design off.”
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Citroen threw the big Bucks at April Fools day this year, producing a video about their plans for a new retractable roof on the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC. The fan controlled roof is modelled on the one from the Citroen C1 Airscape and is made of 9,000 metres of red canvas.
One fan will be given the chance to decide wether the roof is open or closed for each home game and Citroen reckons it will “save between 4 and 6 goals a season” by keeping the sun out of the goalkeeper’s eyes. Surely some sort of cap would have the same effect…
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MG thought it'd have a crack at an April Fool's joke and used that old chestnut of revealing its first invisible car. With help from Professor C. Thrue and Chief Designer Avril F'ouil, the brand expressed its excitement about its new car.
Of course, with it being invisible, there were reported development issues. Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG, said: "At first we had some trouble with the cars, as people kept walking into them or we’d misplace them on the site. As soon as we placed the iconic MG badge on the front of them, using non-invisible materials, we were able to find them much more easily."
He went on to add that parking tickets would be a thing of the past, because traffic wardens wouldn't be able to see it. Of course, neither would any cars driving in that think the bay is empty...
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In an effort to increase the Aygo's appeal to young car buyers, Toyota is partnering with Instagram in order to create "the first selfie-friendly car on sale." Toyota's blog says that the addition of Instagram filters means "style-conscious drivers can now reverse in ‘Reyes’, sneak into a space in ‘Sierra’ or parallel park in ‘Perpetua’.
Despite it being fixed to the rear bumper and only two feet off the ground, Toyota research showed that the awkward placing of the camera was more of a challenge for millenials. Apparently beta testing showed that people made much more of an effort to take a #NoFilter selfie or picture of their bacon sandwich with the Aygo than with their "boring" phone.
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Lexus has been hard at work developing a new seat technology, in order to create a more meaningful - ahem - connection between the driver and their car. The V-LCRO seat technology means that the driver can remain truly attached to their seat and experience the thrills of the Lexus range in greater detail.
In the video, Paul Williamsen describes that the seat material "has a holding power of 15 pounds per square inch (PSI)", but does admit that the driver has to wear one half of the material in order for it to work. Just make sure you can pull yourself out of your car properly after you park it...
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Porsche took to its Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote its new fragrance "Eau d'Essence". For the true petrolhead, the fragrance has "essences of motor oil and nano-particles of tire rubber [that] will make you feel like you are on the racetrack. Every day."
Limited to only 919 bottles (a nod to the brand's Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans car), the bottle is shaped like a spark plug and "literally embodies the motorsport spirit."
Like Porsche, Jeep shared its April Fools via social media channels. The Wrangler Grille Grill is, well, shaped like the grille from a Wrangler!
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In that most manly of pursuits, the barbeque, it is obvious that Jeep wants to get in on the culinary delights of cooking a slab of beef to within an inch of its life. The grill would be perfect for those looking to take advantage of the Wrangler's rugged appeal and could be great for a Jeep-themed camping trip in Colorado, the Amazon rainforest or the Lake District!
"Italian heritage just got tastier." Abarth's tagline for its new 595-based ice cream van embodies the spirit of Italy - sporty city cars and great tasting ice cream! The Abarth 5995 Gelato will surely make you shout "Mamma Mia" at Brighton beach!
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Presumably pronounced the "five ninety-nine five" Gelato, you'll have to be fast if you want an ice cream from this little number; they don't call it a "hot" hatch for nothing!
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 was even a happy ending for our fictitious farmer because the Mustang was indeed coming to the UK for the first time that year.
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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."
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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."
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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 Motorsports (@redbullmotors) April 1, 2014
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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.
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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.
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
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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?
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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”.
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.
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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 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.
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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.
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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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...