Automotive April Fools' joke roundup [w/video]

It's that time of year again. April Fools' came and went over the weekend, and a handful of the world's automakers joined in on a little Spring time fun. From intelligent anti-theft devices and TSA-inspired driver aids to automated NASCAR racers and high-performance hybrids, this year's raft of pranks were as good as any we've seen in past years. With April 1 falling on a Sunday, we saw fewer wise-cracking creations than before, but that didn't spoil the fun, so we thought we'd recap them for your enjoyment.

Mini took the cake this year with the company's Cowley Caravan and Swindon Roof Top Tent. The automaker went through the trouble of working up a full press release, complete with 20 photos and translations into a wide range of languages. We'll admit to being a little disappointed when we discovered the add-ons were a clever rouse. We'll just have to scrap our plans for a Mini safari. For now.

Hit the jump to see more April foolishness. Mini Cooper Yachtsman

Mini Cooper Yachtsman

Mini teased the amphibious car world with the company's Cooper Yachtsman as well. A sea-going version of the three-door hatch, the tongue-in-cheek press release said the vehicle "will become an instant status symbol." Something like that.

Subaru XV self-washing car

Subaru jumped in with a self-cleaning version of the company's new XV. Push a button and watch the dirt fade away.

Darth Vader TomTom voice

Kids happier with Darth Vader as their co-pilot

TomTom announced the company's research arm had found Darth Vader's navigation voice to increase happiness in children by 68 percent. The fake release attributed the findings to data collected from more than 300 baby and toddler volunteers.

Google Nascar

Google Racing

Google rolled out more than a few April Fools pranks this year, including the announcement that the company intended to join the NASCAR fray with an autonomous vehicle. Insert obligatory "turn left" joke here.

BMW Running Coach

BMW Driverless Running Coach

BMW didn't let Mini have all the fun this year. The German automaker announced a new driverless running coach feature for its vehicles as part of the company's partnership with the London 2012 Olympic games. We can think of few things as terrifying as being chased down by an automated 3 Series.

Solar-powered Subaru Tribeca

Solar-powered Subaru Tribeca

Planet Subaru in Hanover, Massachusetts prides itself on the 374 solar panels on top of the dealership. To mark April Fools, the company worked up a mock solar-powered Tribeca, complete with a panel on the roof and pack of batteries in the rear.

Honda anti-theft negotiator

This year, Honda released a video for Terii, a new anti-theft system capable of psycho-analyzing would-be thieves, ruining their credit and discerning their home address. Sounds like a win to us.

Callaway Volt

Callaway HyperVolt

Callaway has long been a haven for high-performance General Motors products, but the company doesn't have much of a history with EVs. As a prank, the company unleashed this photo on the web, complete with a spec list for a faster Volt. The HyperVolt would supposedly be able to dump 10,000 volts to the driveline which would be capable of revving to 120,000 rpm. Maniacal.

Subaru TSA EyeSight

Subaru EyeSight with TSA option

Finally, Subaru played one last prank with a TSA option for the company's upcoming EyeSight driver assistance system. By combining pedestrian detection with TSA body scanners, drivers would be able to detect hidden objects on those in front of them.

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