25 March 2013

April Fools: Ten best automotive practical jokes

Practical jokes have been around for thousands of years. Some have been cruel, but others are just good fun. And wherever people with a common interest come together, there is tremendous material on which to base new and creative jokes. We’ve gathered 10 of the best automotive practical jokes, most of which will have the recipient laughing just as hard as the perpetrator.

  1. A gentleman went to visit his rare Triumph Italia coupe at the restoration shop. There in a parts bin was a shattered and folded windscreen. Knowing that the part was irreplaceable, Dave was in despair until the restorer asked him what was the matter and then showed him the correct windshield safely on a parts rack.
  2. Shortly after he graduated from college, a restorer was sharing a house with three guys who were pretty bad about coughing up the rent. But he had a rule: be late with the rent and your car will not start. One scoff-artist thought he got away with murder when his MGB started easily when he was several days past due. Two blocks later he was stuck along the road and he wasn’t so smug. Carl had disconnected the electric fuel pump.
  3. Bruce and his partner ran a repair shop specializing in older cars. When the partner was just about done replacing a head gasket, he took a break before connecting the exhaust down-pipe. That’s when Bruce filled the pipe with a mixture of antifreeze and oil. When started up, the filthy green mixture turned to vapor and the partner thought he had to start all over again.
  4. A particularly unpleasant Porsche engine builder didn’t have any friends in the shop. Finally, his coworkers had had it with his downright nastiness and, as he completed assembling a fresh 911 engine, one of them decided to get even. The joker took a brand new wrist pin circlip off the shelf and wrapped it in the mechanic’s shop rag. When the man picked up the rag the new part dropped and he panicked that he’d left one out, which would have led to immediate engine failure. He was so unpopular that his shop mates let him tear down the engine without telling him about the joke.
  5. One of Carl’s neighbors was proud of his VW Beetle’s gas mileage. It got better and better as Carl added fuel for a few nights in a row. Suddenly, though, it got worse as he began siphoning fuel overnight.
  6. When young, a noted California restorer loved to hide when a newly rebuilt engine was fired up for the first time. As the engine came to life, he’d tap a wrench on a pipe in time to the engine speed. As the engine revved, he’d speed up the tapping. As soon as the builder would hear what he thought was a rod knock he’d shut the engine off in a panic. Randy had to be sure he didn’t keep tapping after the engine went quiet.
  7. When he was in high school, a young Pennsylvania man owned a rare, but very tired Fiat-Abarth 750 Zagato. Being of limited means he had no choice but to sell it. Imagine his surprise 30 years later when a close friend brought him back a letter from Italy from Gianni Zagato of the famed Italian coachbuilder: “Dear Mr. X, you should never have sold my beautiful car.”
  8. In a classic shop prank, one young man put a large puddle of oil under a freshly built Triumph engine that hadn’t even been run yet. The engine builder was very upset until he remembered that he hadn’t yet filled it with oil.
  9. A legendary American British car mechanic was leading a seminar on rebuilding an MGB engine. After completing assembly and installing the oil pan, he found an oil pump spindle under his shop rag. As he was about to drop the pan, one of his employees sidled up with a smirk on his face and John knew it had been a prank. The following day the same employee was demonstrating how to retime a distributor. But when he tried to start the engine it would just backfire. John then demonstrated the correct method by first finding “top dead center.” He had spun the engine while Greg’s back was turned in a classic example of “payback’s a witch,” or something like that.
  10. Then there was the case of a Midwestern auto transport company owner who loved Alfa Romeos. So he decorated his golf cart with an Alfa grille, badges and other graphics. A short while later he received a letter from an Italian lawyer telling him he was infringing upon the Alfa Romeo trademark and that he had 30 days to crush the cart and send proof to the attorney. Translated into English, the name of the lawyer was “joke” and the golf cart owner had certainly been had.

34 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Michael Easton, Maryland March 27, 2013 at 17:56
    When I was in college, one of my friends received a brand new Chrysler convertible as a graduation present from his father. He was very excited with the gift and asked me to join him for a ride. As we were going along some country road in New England, it began to rain. Smugly, he said, "don't panic, I can raise the top while we continue". He pressed the button and the top came up. Just the frame, without the fabric. Somewhere along the line, somebody didn't attach the fabric to the frame. We stopped and checked the trunk. no fabric anywhere in the vehicle. Not only was there no fabric, but the boot cover itself was also missing. It was very awkward racing to the dealer in the rain with the frame up & no fabric.
  • 2
    Dave Doyle Lynn, MA March 27, 2013 at 18:16
    I was an automotive technical instructor for over 30 years, and it seemed that my students never ran out of ideas with which to torment their fellow students. One day, a student, after performing a complete tuneup on his car, put the car in the parking lot, and then went to wash up. Some of his "Friends" thought it would be funny to replae the coil wire with a piece of vacuum hose (While the guy was cleaning up) & then stand around guffawing while he cranked his battery into the ground to start his car and leave. Imagine the expressions on their faces, when the fellow came out got in the car, started it with no problem whatsoever, and drove off! (The section of vacuum hose that they used, was carbon based, and performed effectively as a coil wire)
  • 3
    EM San Francisco March 27, 2013 at 18:24
    When I worked at an auto shop in college my boss went out of town for the weekend. He left his car at the shop and took a cab to the airport. So while his car was parked in front of the shop, myself and another employee wired his brake light to the car horn. That monday when he got back to work we waited on pins and needles for him to get in his car and go to lunch, he skipped lunch. Finally he announced to everyone later that afternoon he was leaving. We all said goodbye and went to the shop office to get a better view of the street. He rolled out of the parking lot, onto the street and made it down towards the end of the block before the tail lights shined the horn went off, and we were almost crying from laughter. Listening to the constant horn as he me a u-turn is still one of my best memories from that shop.
  • 4
    Tom Phipps West Covina, Ca. March 27, 2013 at 19:00
    These stories reminds me of one I heard that backfired...A novice body shop employee had struggled with a windshield replacement, having broken the first windshield, but successfully installed the second one. His shopmates thought it would be funny to lay a wet black thread on the new windshield, making it appear to have cracked...When the novice saw the doctored windshield, he lost his temper and hurled a hammer through the perfect glass! His shopmates never fessed up...
  • 5
    Bob San Francisco March 27, 2013 at 19:01
    My favorite ever was this one: not an April Fool prank but a June one: a 1958 student prank placing a car on the roof of a 300-year-old university building. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2210696/Cambridge-Universitys-1958-car-on-roof-prank-secrets-revealed.html or http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1030091/Revealed-50-years-The-secret-greatest-student-prank.html.
  • 6
    Jerry Forthofer Rockwell, NC March 27, 2013 at 19:13
    Some years ago my friend took his '74 911 to the local dealership for a tune up and valve adjustment. The Porsche mechanic, also a friend to both of us, had built the motor and worked on the car this day. When my friend the 911 owner picked it up, it was a hot summer evening and he had his suit and tie on. About 30 minutes after leaving with the car, he returned with his jacket and tie off, his shirt partially unbuttoned and was sweating up a storm. He was steaming and yelled at our mutual friend, "What the #@#@ did you do to my car? It won't rev over 4500 RPM!!!" "Oh," the mechanic said, "it might be that 4500RPM rev limiter I installed!!" It's a good thing they were friends and still are to this day. We all had a huge laugh when we heard about it and we all wished we had thought of it!!!!
  • 7
    Jerry Forthofer Rockwell, NC March 27, 2013 at 19:14
    Some years ago my friend took his '74 911 to the local dealership for a tune up and valve adjustment. The Porsche mechanic, also a friend to both of us, had built the motor and worked on the car this day. When my friend the 911 owner picked it up, it was a hot summer evening and he had his suit and tie on. About 30 minutes after leaving with the car, he returned with his jacket and tie off, his shirt partially unbuttoned and was sweating up a storm. He was steaming and yelled at our mutual friend, "What the #@#@ did you do to my car? It won't rev over 4500 RPM!!!" "Oh," the mechanic said, "it might be that 4500RPM rev limiter I installed!!" It's a good thing they were friends and still are to this day. We all had a huge laugh when we heard about it and we all wished we had thought of it!!!!
  • 8
    Richard Stanley L.A. March 27, 2013 at 19:14
    One of my mechanic friends used to leave charged condensers around the shop with the lead frayed. People would pick them up and touch the lead to the case creating a nice spark!
  • 9
    Brad Baber Illinois March 27, 2013 at 19:20
    Is the author of this article in the UK or Europe? Every single example was a little foreign sports car. I thought Haggerty was in the US, Michigan?
  • 10
    S Stover Ohio March 27, 2013 at 19:28
    when I was in high school auto shop a mate was cleaning his spark plugs one at a time in his old dodge flathead 6 pickup. every time he pulled a plug i would fill the cylinder with oil. needless to say it was hard to start but when it did, it filled the whole shop with white smoke.
  • 11
    Matthew Proctor Los Angeles, California March 27, 2013 at 19:36
    My comments on economical driving, the Volkswagen Beetle 1971 was a gas saver and it drove around Southern California, including a round trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Its color is yellow and I had to pay for rebuilt engine twice on long block type 1. I learned how to adjust valves, disassemble and assemble the partso together. Only the difference was the production VW labeled made in South America Brasil VW factory. I bought it for 700 bucks and I owed the former VW owner Susan Jones' parents for balance of $100 dollars. I lost their mailing address located in Northern California. The deaf woman Susan Jones can come foward to collect $100 dollars balance on agreement purchase through DMV documentation. I drove it from 1991 December through August 1996. It was sold to a father and a son in Canyon Country, CA adjacent to Park Sierra apartments on Soledad Canyon Blvd, next to a boat repair shop and real estate business. The 4 independent suspsension were easy to steer and drive, powered by 1600 cc rear engine. The 4 speed manual transmission was made of steel and never broke down. I wish I kept my VW and drive it because it saved me a lot of gas and mileage and I changed oil every three months.
  • 12
    Mike Mullay Maple Valley, Washington March 27, 2013 at 19:47
    As a former, I repeat FORMER owner of an MGB coupe, I would have to say just owning an MGB is a practical joke and a bad one at that!
  • 13
    Rochelle San Francisco CA March 27, 2013 at 19:51
    When I was 17 I owned a 1977 Toyota Celica that was my first car. I was crazy about that little car. I was about to take my first solo road-trip with a friend to Lake Tahoe, and I needed to flush my radiator first. Never having seen antifreeze outside of the yellow Prestone bottle I was surprised to see that it was that bright yellow-green as I poured it into my radiator, after the flush. My father told me at the time that it "turnes that color when in contact with oxygen" and let me and my bestfriend drive all the way to Tahoe and back before telling me the truth. Needless to say, I took auto shop the next year in high school so he couldn't take advantage of me like that again. (He still laughs at that memory, 27 years later.)
  • 14
    Kevin Statesboro, GA March 27, 2013 at 20:19
    3 additional pranks: 1) Eric, a buddy of mine was rebuilding his VW, and during the time that he was doing the rebuild I was his TAXI to work. He didn''t seem to be in a hurry to get the job finished, and this began to annoy me. SO one day while I was waiting in Eric's garage (waiting for him to wash up before I taxied him to work) I decided to ease my frustration. Earlier in the day I had dug thru my spare parts bin at home and I found a few old VW bolts that I no longer had a use for. So I brought these bolts with me to Eric's house, & while he was inside making himself pretty I dropped the spare bolts into one of his coffee cans that contained the parts for his engine rebuild. I can only imagine that he was very confused and frustrated when he was reassembling his engine and couldn't figure out where these extra bolts went!! LOL 2) Old reliable trick. just need a length of wire and knowledge of where the brake light switch is located and where the horn relay is located. Connect a wire from the brake light switch to the horn relay. & whenever the brake pedal is depressed the horn will honk. No damage is done, but your victim will be unable to get his car out of the driveway without making a ton of noise!! 3) A few small fishing weights duct-taped to one side of the driveshaft. This will throw the shaft out of balance and limit the car's speed to approx 10 or 20 mph!
  • 15
    Dave Wolven Hemet Calif. March 27, 2013 at 20:28
    What?, no pranks on American hot rods?
  • 16
    Justin Cambridge, ON March 27, 2013 at 20:28
    Last summer, we were replacing the boring (and broken) 5 speed transmission in a Pontiac Vibe with the GT 6-speed. A friend came over to help out. While I was on top unbolting the electrical system, the friend who dropped by got underneath it, and began backing out the bolts holding the tranny to the motor. About half an hour into the work, he said, "OK, I have plans with my wife for dinner, I have to go now." and off he went. About 5 minutes later, I got underneath the car to finish what he'd started. Only to find he'd rounded the head clean off of a bolt, and left us with it. OK, maybe it's not a prank, but he thought it was pretty hilarious when I explained to him it took me 3 hours to get that one bolt out.
  • 17
    71MKIV United States March 27, 2013 at 20:33
    Back in technical college the upper classmen would always had a few miscellaneous nuts and bolts to the freshman's engine overhauls.
  • 18
    Don Burrows Baker City, Oregon March 27, 2013 at 20:39
    Car guys are like airplane/airline guys, jokesters all but with rare exception. I'm both & like classic boats too. All my "toys" including a rare '69 Ranchero 428 CJ ( Marti Report sez 1 in 10!) & a '58 Woody Chris-Craft are insured with the nice folks @ Hagerty. Joking aside, I hope never to have their use their services much like a Funeral Home. Never is better than later but.......................things/life happens. DB
  • 19
    Anthony NC March 27, 2013 at 21:32
    We have some mean ones here in NC. A local guy drove his new truck up to a country store, went inside to get a Coke and hear the latest "news". While he was inside, some of his"friends" decided to pull off the hubcaps and fill them with some small fish they had caught. It was summertime, and it didn't take long for the truck owner to begin telling his passengers they needed to take a bath. By the time the fish were found, he had to have the wheels steam-cleaned! Another time, some of the same folks filled up the tires about 1/2 way on a new car with water. The car drove fine, until it picked up a little speed. Then, all of the water would go to one side and you couldn't hold the car on the road. The owner thought the tires were out of balance, but every time they tried to balance them at the tire shop, the tire would suddenly get out of control and nearly pull the tire balance machine out of the floor! Ah, the good ole days.....
  • 20
    Brian Awis Florida March 27, 2013 at 21:39
    All very Good! But a simple gag that will scare the heck out someone is to take a large panduit electrical cable tie and sinch it down on an axle or drive shaft so that when they move a loud tick,tick,tick sound fills the car. A cousin of mine did it to his wife and she even shut the car down and called a wrecker. FUUUN!
  • 21
    Henrt Schneider Narrowsburg NY March 27, 2013 at 23:32
    Many years ago I brought my Austin Healy 3000 for a tune up. When I went to pick it up I saw the machanic was cursing at my car.I asked him why? He said he couldn't get the timing rite. The other machanics were all smiling and asking him what was wrong. It tourns out they had reversed #1 plug and #2plug wires.
  • 22
    Lee Mathias Cartersville, Ga March 28, 2013 at 13:36
    Almost all these jokes involve foreign cars. My pappy always said funny people drive funny cars. So True
  • 23
    Rob Stamm Alabama March 28, 2013 at 13:42
    Another practical joke, place a ty-rap around the drive shaft, just long enough to hit the car body. When moving, you hear it, when you stop, it quits. Done to me and by me. Hilarious!
  • 24
    Steve Shaw Southern CA March 28, 2013 at 01:46
    I worked with a Volkswagen lover named Ted years ago. He had just driven his vintage green VW van up to our work location the day after installing a rebuilt motor. It was a good 45 mile jaunt for him to get there. Soon after he good there, we sent him out to collect test samples for our lab. When he was gone, we put a pail of water next to the far side of his motor. As he rounded into the parking lot heading towards his van, I threw a flask of liquid argon into the water and it quickly vaporized into a huge white cloud by the motor. He jumps out of our work truck running over to the back to see what was on fire. All he sees is me with a big smile on my face! Needless to say he was relieved and mad.
  • 25
    Larry Seitzer Mankato MN March 28, 2013 at 15:11
  • 26
    Dave Gray Little Rock Arkansas March 28, 2013 at 15:59
    In a recent car show a friend of mine boastfully talked about his 57' hardtop. Often times bragging on how strong the motor was and how the car runs super smooth. Just for laughs we took a large zip tie and tied it around the drive shaft. After the show we all do a poker run to the local drive and dives. When we got to the first dive he had his hood popped up and his wife was revving the motor. He then asked us what would make a thumping noise when accelerating and decelerating. When we all, in unison, asked if he had removed all of the shipping protective material from his car he knew something was up and found the zip tie. Since then he has yet to brag about the car. Thank you for the practical joke segment, enjoyed the read!
  • 27
    Richard Quint Seattle area March 28, 2013 at 08:24
    I remember #5 from an old movie. How many "good pranks" go bad and somebody ends up with unintended consequences?
  • 28
    Steve Hamilton March 28, 2013 at 09:05
    Years ago, a ladie came into my father's garage and said her car was running terribly and was smoking badly. When the mechanic checked it, the car run beautifully. When asked by the mechanic to show him what she did when she started and drove the car, the ladie showed him. She started the car then promptly pulled the choke all the way out and hung her purse on it. "I thought that was what that was for" she said.
  • 29
    taylor walts Arkansas March 28, 2013 at 09:11
    Here's one we used to do: Loosely zip tie a washer to a friends drive shaft in a place where the washer can make contact with another surface and create the clicking sound similar to a bad cv joint. pretty funny to watch the driver search for the horrible noise.
  • 30
    Irv Heard Jefferson, TX March 28, 2013 at 09:34
    Jonothan...loved the pranks. I have a cool April Fools Corssword puzzle I will send you if you like solving puzzles. Please keep me on your mailing list...love all things about all cars...Irv Heard
  • 31
    David parish Houston, TX March 28, 2013 at 11:03
    Ah, where to start... the golf ball dropped into the gas tank that would only knock when the tankwas low. The confetti inside the car - and the A/C vents - of the honeymooner's car, so not only did they have to clean the car once, when they hit hot weather in the desert and fired up the A.C - POOF, a car full of confetti again. The revenge for that one when the prankster got married and found not just tin cans but logging chain hooked to the bumper (my brother wound up borrowing a torch at the local gast staion just after the wedding and cut it off dressed in welder's mask and monkey suit.) The principal's Dauphine carried up to the thrid floor by a group of husky jocks... the Honda CVCC manually bounced by another bunch of husky lads into a shop corner impossible to drive out of. The two reversed plug wires on the Mustang distributor. Unplugging the neutral safety swicth to keep a car from starting, or rolling under a car to screw up the shift linkage on a 3-on-a-tree shifter. And thesewere the NICE ones.....
  • 32
    Bob Mears Lubbock Texas March 28, 2013 at 11:50
    Let me pass on a couple more...My father restored a 50 Chevy convertible. He was quite proud of it. One day in the shop he was doing some maintence. He took off the glass fuel pump bowl and handed it to me to take to the parts washet and clean out. H warned me to be careful because these were impossible to find. I grabbed a small glass jar while I was cleaning the bowl, then headed back to him. As I was walking I faked a trip and tossed the glass jar and it of course broke in a million pieces! He about crapped! Started yelling about where the hell he was gonna get another one..... then I pulled the real bowl out of my pocket. Then he tried to kill me. #2 I Purchased a Mustang from an individual and he was to bring the title to me later. After a couple of days he brought my cash back and said he wanted the car back. I argued that we had a deal and I wanted my title. He said he wouldnt give me the title. So I told him I would bring him the car back that night. So I took it to the gass station and put about 5 gallons of diesel fuel in it. I knew it wouldnt hurt the engine, but it of course started smoking like hell as the diesel started going through it. He took it to a mechanic that took the heads off before discovering what had happened.
  • 33
    Barrie Robinson Barrie, Ontario March 28, 2013 at 12:03
    As students in the UK during the sixties, buying a car was financially impossible so three of us pooled our cash and bought an old Morris 8 which was claimed to be in good running order. But a few weeks later we found that the crank bearings were gone. Being handy we dismantled the bottom end but found new bearing shells were too expensive. In falsh of inspiration we made leather ones, soaked them in molyslip and ran the car for a few weeks. Realising that the leather would not last we sold the car and made a five pound profit. Several months later we ran into the buyer and, as we haboured some guilt, we asked how the car was running. "Beautiful", the chap replied "My wife and I used it for our honeymoon touring Scotland and then we sold it - made a ten pound profit".
  • 34
    Ron Lloyd Gilbert Arizona April 11, 2013 at 13:46
    A friend of mine had a hatchback but I don't remember what make the car was. The car was sitting in his driveway when he heard the sound of someone breaking glass to get into the car. He called the police. When they arrived they found a would be car thief busily working on the wiring to start the car. It never would have happened because if he had turned his head to look the engine had been removed and was in the back under the hatchback.

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