A little light relief
Spring is almost here. So we thought we’d give you a small break from reading about the dire impact of Covid-19 by taking a brief look at the iconic day which marks the start of April – April Fools’ Day.
Who, exactly, invented April Fools’ Day? The short answer is that no one really knows. What we do know, though, is that it’s been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, each of which marks the occasion with practical jokes and hoaxes. And there have been some pretty famous ones, especially in recent years.
Take, for example, the evening of April 1, 1957, when thousands of British families tuned in to watch Panorama—then one of the leading current events programmes — to witness footage of a happy Swiss family harvesting their prized spaghetti trees. It’s a hoax that has gone down in history as one of the most successful ever. Or take the time, a little more recently (1980) when the BBC's overseas service claimed that Big Ben was to be given a digital readout. The news elicited a huge response from listeners shocked and angry about the change. Few thought it was funny, and – in the end – the BBC had to apologise. Or what about the time, in 1973, when chat show host Johnny Carson cracked a joke about a toilet paper shortage. Worried Americans immediately stocked up. But they should have known better – after all, as Isaac Newton once observed: “You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.”
In short, there's no shortage of examples of April fools pranks that have made their mark on the public consciousness. We thought, if you’re looking to idle away a few minutes during a tea-break, you might enjoy hearing about some the April 1 jokes which, in recent years, have involved cars.
Rain-Deflecting Open Top Car, 1983
BMW claimed that one of its engineers had developed a sunroof that could be kept open even in the rain, thanks to jets of air that blasted the water away from the top of the car. The system worked completely automatically, even in a car wash. Those seeking more information were directed to query ˜Miss April Wurst˜ in the BMW marketing department. Even so, lots of people fell for it.
Driverless buses, 1984
The Sunday Times revealed that London Transport planned to start – very soon - using driverless buses within the city. The buses would follow a magnetic track while cameras scanned the road, relaying images back to a controller at headquarters who could intervene if necessary. Though the idea, at the time, was completely technically implausible, the article also provided several hints that it was a joke. The official name of the bus, for example, was the LOOF (Lock-On Overland Facility), which is, of course, FOOL backwards – while the agency promoting the bus was LIRPA (London Institute for Road Passenger Access), which is APRIL in reverse. Did readers take these hints? Not really, no.
Personalised Tyres 2003
Ours is a culture of individualisation. For many years, we’ve had monogrammed clothes, and – these days – we even have personalised license plates. So why shouldn't we be able to add a personal touch to our tyres, too? At least, that was what Dunlop Tires (Canada) argued, when they announced Dunlop Ident-a-Treds on April 1 2003. The product of more than a decade of top-secret work at the company's remote Canadian R&D facility, Ident-a-Tred tyres would be available with initials, symbols, designs or logos engraved onto the tyre treads, combining …”superior traction and handling with unique style.˜
Cook From Your Car, 2004
BMW again. This time, the company ran an ad in the Guardian unveiling its new Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration (SHEF) Technology, which allowed drivers to cook their dinners from their car as they drove home from work. The system used a wireless connection with the home oven, and drivers could monitor the progress of their meal via a built-in oven-cam. The ad directed readers to a website that offered recipes such as ˜chicken a la M42.˜ Did it fool anyone? We don’t know, but probably.
Invisible Car, 2009
The Daily Express reported that a British inventor had built an invisible car, designed to fool speed cameras. This miraculous breakthrough used a plastic film on the surface of the vehicle, which appeared completely normal to the human eye. However, the flash of the camera reacted with molecules in the film, reflecting reflected outwards to make the car appear invisible in photos. The inventor admitted that developing an invisible suit for the driver, to protect their identity was proving a problem.
The Polite Horn, 2019
Inspired by the reputation of Canadians for politeness and civility, Honda Canada announced a ˜revolutionary innovation in vehicular communication˜ that would be available for all models of its cars: the ˜polite horn.˜ Instead of honking, it made a throat-clearing sound. The company noted, ˜the polite horn allows drivers to cease causing a ruckus on the road and instead assert themselves passive aggressively, as is appropriate.˜
One thing which definitely isn’t an April Fool’s hoax is the used cars section, here at Desperateseller.co.uk. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – a way of finding some seriously great deals, from a Toyota Yaris to a Jaguar XJ.