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The Best Automotive April Fools

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

Between balance sheets and stock prices, the business world is not known for its humor. The automotive business is known for being particularly stern, with marketing departments issuing carefully-worded press releases and fastidiously planning launch dates. But even the most serious companies sometimes cut loose on April Fools’ Day. Here are some of our favorite automotive-themed April Fools’ pranks from recent years.

Car and Driver reports government cuts NASCAR

Car and Driver magazine is well known among automotive enthusiasts for its April Fools’ pranks, but its 2009 gag managed to fool even some of the most seasoned journalists. Following a US government takeover of Chrysler and General Motors, the magazine reported that President Obama was putting an end to Dodge and Chevrolet participation in NASCAR, citing the sport as “an unnecessary expense” that could save the companies $250 million. Unfortunately, the hoax seemed all too believable for some news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, which reported it as a genuine news item.

Subaru teaches old dogs new tricks

Subaru announced it would begin offering dog driving lessons at last year’s New York International Auto Show, citing inspiration from the brand’s own “Dog Tested, Dog Approved” television ads. The automaker said the lessons would teach dogs basic vehicle operations, from applying the parking brake to activating emergency warning lights. Although Subaru didn’t have pricing in mind for the dog driving lessons, it did quote a driving instructor – April Fuhl – in a press release, noting that one of the dogs enrolled in the lessons “especially loved learning how to pull donuts in the parking lot using her teeth and her tail.”

Hyundai helps car owners move on

Hyundai’s own April Fools’ prank last year involved funerals… for cars. According to the Korean automaker, while the arrival of a new car provides motorists with elation, they’re invariably left with sadness about the status of their old car. Hyundai UK said it could quell such despair by offering “discreet, dignified, and dedicated disposals for old cars,” even going so far as to include a photo of a car being buried in a cemetery with its press release. The automaker said it could provide a full funeral for £2,000 – about $3,215 – or, for around $2,500, it would “cuddle” an owner’s old car into a cube before laying it in the ground.

Infiniti monitors tummy rumbles

Infiniti capitalized on its reputation for gadget-packed cars with its own April Fools’ Day prank last year, announcing it had developed the world’s first in-car hunger monitoring system. Infiniti said that the system, dubbed Gastronomi, would be available on the new M sedan and would monitor “hunger pangs and tummy rumbles.” The automaker said that not only would the system alert drivers of the need to stop for food, “but will also navigate the car to the nearest restaurant that suits the driver’s taste and pocket” in order to save drivers from using up any further energy.

PickupTrucks.com announces Scion Truck

An April 1, 2008 gag from PickupTrucks.com disclosed that youth-oriented Toyota brand Scion would soon be getting a truck based on its parent company’s full-size Tundra pickup – surprising news, since Scion is best known for small hatchbacks and fuel efficiency. Fortunately, the PickupTrucks.com article was riddled with clues to help dissuade readers from believing the story, including quotes from Scion spokeswoman April Fursten and the promise that the first 500 trucks would come bearing “special tribal tattoo artwork based on Maori and Celtic designs.” PickupTrucks.com also promised that the truck, which was reportedly powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, would go on sale the following April 1.

IKEA unveils its own car (some assembly required)

On April 1, 2009, it was not a car manufacturer but rather Swedish DIY furniture company IKEA with one of the most puzzling April Fools’ Day announcements. The French arm of the company promised that April 1 would mark the debut of the Leko, an all-new car to be manufactured by the company. Advertisements showed the Leko wrapped in a cover, and Internet automotive sites and blogs were speculating on the existence of the vehicle as the date approached. When April 1 arrived, it turned out Leko was neither a car nor an April Fools’ prank, but rather a car-sharing service intended to help customers without cars get rides to IKEA stores.

NBA Star gets popped

Denver Nuggets power forward Kenyon Martin was the victim of his own automotive-related April Fools’ prank last year when a Nuggets ball boy filled Martin’s BMW 7-Series sedan with popcorn during a practice session. Martin was upset with the incident, vowing to get even with whoever pulled the prank and even threatening to sit out for the postseason unless the perpetrator confessed. Eventually, the would-be jokester did confess, volunteering to pay the cleaning bill.

Mini does bait and switch

Members of the automotive press gathered at the Mini display at last year’s New York International Auto Show were the victims of a clever April Fools’ prank from the cheeky automaker. While the journalists expected to see Mini debut its small Countryman crossover SUV, the automaker’s spokesman instead promised a full-size SUV, hidden under a cover next to the stage. Even with the knowledge of the SUV’s April 1 debut, journalists were surprised – until the cover came off to reveal a big SUV-shaped box, cleverly containing the Countryman.

Suzuki goes racing

Ever eager to drum up support for its Kizashi sedan, Suzuki issued a press release last April Fools’ Day announcing the car’s debut in NASCAR for the 2011 season. Dubbed the “Car of Tomorrow,” a play on NASCAR’s own new racecar, the race-prepped Kizashi was said to have a V8 engine crafted from two Hayabusa motorcycle engine blocks. Suzuki also noted its crew chief would be the legendary Cole Trickle – better known as Tom Cruise’s character from the 1990 NASCAR film Days of Thunder.

American LeMans goes back to the future

Speaking of racing, the American LeMans Series played an April Fools’ prank of its own last year. The racing series issued a press release noting that there would be a new vehicle eligible to compete in its races: the DeLorean. The only caveat was that drivers entering DeLoreans would have to draw power from a flux capacitor fueled by a Mr. Fusion home energy reactor – thus complying with the ALMS’s “green” focus. The Back to the Future references continued as the series further stipulated competitive DeLoreans would be limited to speeds below 88 miles per hour.

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The Best Automotive April Fools - Autotrader