Like many companies, carmakers and their prank-happy PR teams look forward to April 1st as an opportunity to have some fun and to simultaneously rake in some brand exposure.
When you hit the hay on March 31, it's always good sense to tack a note to the mirror that says, "Tomorrow, believe nothing." The next morning, you can expect announcements of farcical new technologies, unlikely partnerships and ridiculous new models.
While many pranks entertain with their creativity, others fail the "good gag" test.
Read on for TMR's favourite five April Fools' pranks of 2012. We've saved the best for last.
MINI's UK and US arms both got in on the act, releasing their own April 1st contributions respectively.
MINI UK came up with the most realistic of all the 2012 pranks, mocking up the Cowley Caravan and Swindon Roof-Top Tent.
From a brand renowned for optional accessories, these two products are entirely believable - until you read the cars' number plates, or consider the fact that you won't find the UK towns of Swindon and Cowley at the top of any holiday destinations list.
MINI USA mocked up an entirely new model, dubbed the Yachtsman, with the bow of a small boat grafted onto the nose of a previous-generation MINI hatch. Compared with the MINI UK effort, the Yachtsman is a little hard to swallow.
Straight from every motorist’s wishlist comes Subaru’s “Optional Self Cleaning Technology," with an elaborate video to demonstrate the function. (See the video at the bottom of this article.)
The idea is great in principle, particularly for those that use their new XV as Subaru’s marketing suggests. Sadly, this imaginative new tech won't be coming to an XV near you.
Lotus went to great lengths to set up the website rotuscars.com, which closely resembled the actual lotus website lotuscars.com.
Rotuscars.com featured (note the past-tense; the site has been swiftly removed) rather risqué "Chinglish" translation of all text, including the Lotus logo itself, with the net result being more confusing than entertaining.
You can achieve a similar result yourself by running some English text through the Google Translate tool into whatever language you like, and then translate the new text back into English.
Hours of fun.
Holden Racing Team
A surprisingly cunning prank came from the Holden Racing Team camp during the weekend’s Symmons Plains round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
The team fabricated an entirely plausible scenario where star driver Garth Tander fell victim to a dose of food poisoning during birthday celebrations the night before the big race, ruling him out of the final race on Sunday.
Garth’s racer wife, Leanne Tander, was then announced the replacement driver for the race - which was made all the more realistic by the fact that endurance co-driver David Russell was racing in place of an injured Greg Murphy for the round.
The prank had many fooled, with Leanne tweeting that she’d been inundated with messages of support for the race.
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Road & Track Magazine
The magazine proposed that Ford would launch the model to stem competition from the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, creating a model with more widespread appeal than the existing two door model.
Of course, there will be no Mustang sedan. If there was, though, it would be easy to build a business case for a future RWD Falcon for Ford Australia. Oh well...
Honourable Mention: Skoda Australia
A tip of the hat must go to Skoda Australia for its prank that claimed a sponsorship deal would soon see the Sydney Harbour Bridge renamed Šydney Harbour Bridge - note the familiar Skoda caron over the S in "Sydney".
The deal would include "ŠKODA flags flying atop the remarkable structure in place of the traditional Australian National Flag, as well as the Czech brand’s winged-arrow logo in neon lights on the side of the famous arch."
Skoda Australia's release continues: "As part of the agreement, ŠKODA have provided a fleet of Octavias for use by maintenance and patrol staff, while a herd of Yetis will take the strain out of the popular Bridge Climb as thrill-seekers will now be carried to the top of the arch by ŠKODA’s class-leading 4x4 instead of tackling the arduous climb on foot."
Is this the future of road construction and repair funding?
Bring on April Fools' 2013.