Every year on this particular day, car brands tend to get a bit silly. Here are some of the best car company April Fools’ Day jokes from years gone by.

If you work in media or journalism, you better have your wits about you on April 1st. Companies across all nations and industries like to get a bit creative with their press releases on April Fools’ Day, with the results ranging from cringe to a cruel tease of a cool albeit fake new idea. Here, I’ve compiled some of the most memorable car company April Fools’ Day jokes, but I’ll let you decide which ones work, and which fall a bit flat…

Lexus Lane Valet

Starting off with Lexus Lane Valet, this is a bit of technology which I – and I’m sure the rest of you reading this – would love to have in reality.

We’ve all experienced it: you’re cruising on the highway when eventually you come across a dawdler hogging either the central lane, or even worse, the overtaking lane. Well, Lexus’ high-tech pipe dream would put an end to that, using tech communication between cars to gently move inattentive drivers out of your way… when safe to do so, of course.

BMW M3 pickup April Fools

BMW M3 pickup

BMW is known to love a good joke in its marketing, and in fact, often gets credited as the first company to make April Fools’ Day announcements ‘a thing’ within the automotive sector. It kicked things off with a very serious print advert describing how its top engineers had designed a waterproof convertible thanks to innovative air channeling technology. It would even work at a standstill in a car wash…

Fast forward to 2011, and BMW produced probably one of its most expensive April Fools’ Day jokes ever – the announcement of a new pickup truck based on the E92 BMW M3, complete with a fully-functional concept vehicle!

Cool or cringe? Well, I’m sure there’s plenty of high-power ute enthusiasts out there who’d love something like this to go with their HSV Maloo.

British Touring Van Championship - April Fools Day joke

The British Touring Van Championship

Back in the early 2010s, Toyota had regained a presence in the hugely popular British Touring Car Championship, with several teams using racecars based off of the then-current Avensis sedan. So, in the wake of this newfound motorsport presence in the UK, Toyota put out a press release saying that its Proace van had been developed into a racer for the new upcoming ‘British Touring Van Championship’.

Being a naive kid at the time, I was quite disappointed to discover it was all a big lie – I mean, imagine the carnage that would ensue with these!

That said, something like this actually isn’t beyond the realms of possibility in the 2024 worldwide motorsport landscape. The Brazilian Stock Car Pro Series has recently announced that in 2025 it’ll be swapping its super sedans for racecars with SUV silhouettes instead. Oh, what a sad sign of the times.

MG3 colourful tyres April Fools joke

MG’s dye treads

Sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective. The MG3 was marketed in the UK as a car bursting with color and customizability. You could alter all sorts of aspects of the interior trim, choose from a bright palette of exterior colors, and even add some quite zany decals from the factory. So, in keeping with the theme, MG announced one year that its little supermini could be specified with dye-coated tires. The MG would then paint rainbows on the road as you drove along, but since the dye was water-soluble, it would simply wash away with rain.

They even offered us a word from ‘Dr Gull Abel’, MG’s ‘professor of pigment’, who said: “With these fantastic tyres, we’re taking personalisation to a whole new level and allowing customers to show their true colours.”

McLaren 570GT feather wrap

Supercar manufacturers are always searching for the latest in high-tech materials and aerodynamic solutions, which is what inspired this practical joke from McLaren. The video speaks for itself really.

Mini Yachtsman

Mini Yachtsman

It’s one thing producing a render for a silly press release, but a whole other level of commitment to actually build the damn thing you’re joking about. For that reason, I love the effort put into the Mini Yachtsman. Evidently taking a leaf from parent company BMW’s book, Mini built a fully-drivable hull-fronted Cooper S, with the gag being a nod to Mini’s new model naming structure. You want a station wagon? There’s the Clubman. Big SUV? That’s the Countryman. Small SUV? Paceman. In fact, they’re even building the Aceman soon, but I’m not entirely sure how that fits into the ‘man’ hierarchy. Anyway, if Mini was to build an amphibious car, it would surely be called the Yachtsman, right? Ok, maybe the joke isn’t that good…

Still, they actually took the time to cut up a Cooper S and stick the front of a boat onto it, and then even showcased it at the New York Motor Show. That’s gotta be worth something.

four-door Miata April Fools joke

Four-door Mazda MX-5 Miata

If the Mini Yachtsman is an example of a company pouring lots of effort into a gag, the four-door NC Miata render released by Mazda is the opposite of that. I mean, just look at that wheelbase!

VW ID. Buzz on a US beach

The ‘Voltswagen’ saga

If I could hand out an award for the messiest April Fools’ Day joke of all time, it would probably have to go to VW’s ‘Voltswagen’ rebrand.

In 2021, VW wanted to kick up a fuss about its new line of ‘ID’ branded electric vehicles, like the funky ID. Buzz pictured above. So, to emphasize this, VW announced that its US branch would be renamed ‘Voltswagen’ to reflect the company’s new focus on electrified mobility. Sounds harmless enough right? Well, it would’ve been, if Volkswagen hadn’t doubled-down so hard on it.

See, it started off messily when the prank leaked prior to April Fools’ Day itself, so given that the news hadn’t come on the expected day of silliness, people began to genuinely question whether the ‘Voltswagen’ name change was real. Matters weren’t helped when Volkswagen executives then reaffirmed that the rebrand was set to go ahead, leading to a whole bunch of social media slander and much wider press attention than the company ever probably expected. In fact, it got taken so seriously that the American authorities launched an investigation into what the hell was actually happening with the US branch of one of the biggest car companies in the world. At this point, the big wigs realized that it had all gone a bit too far and Volkswagen finally admitted it was ‘all a prank bro’, with their tails firmly between their legs.

A bizarre PR move, and given how far things went, it’s surely got to go down as the ‘best’ worst April Fools’ joke ever rolled out by a car company.