Now that another April 1 has come and gone by, we can all relax and ponder at the plethora of such jokes BMW has played on its fans for decades. Few people know this but the Bavarian brand has been playing jokes on its fans since the 1980s. Back then it was a more tedious process that usually involved taking out ads in the local paper and then an army of angry customers calling to complain about the preposterous things they saw in said paper. I decided to make a short list of the best pranks BMW came up with in the US and Canada over the years.
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The first such joke is also one of the best they ever did. Back in 1983 BMW claimed that one of their engineers, a certain Herr Blohn, created a sunroof that was so advanced, it could be kept open in the rain without the occupants getting a single drop on them. According to the ad taken out in local papers: “The system is activated electronically by 0.58% volume of moisture in excess of the atmospheric norm. It works automatically, increasing airflow in direct relation to vehicle deceleration.”
Also from the ad: “There is also an SMC (Separate Manual Control) allowing you to boost power to cope, for instance, with monsoon or moderate hail conditions. When the engine is off, as it would be in a car wash, the system still functions, completely automatically. Naturally, a roof section is supplied as an optional extra, should you require it, for security reasons. BMW have always believed you should have total control over your car. If you’d like control over the weather as well, please fill in the coupon below.” Customers would then be asked to direct their questions to a certain “Miss April Wurst” in the BMW marketing department.
In 1996, for the same occasion, BMW decided to unveil the ‘Insect Deflector Screen’, a new feature that would keep your windscreen bug free. The system, developed by Munich scientist Dr. Jurgen Afalfurit was comprised of a clear rubber coating applied to the windscreen. The rubber layer was so thin it would be invisible to the eye and yet so elastic that would instantly repel bugs even at higher speeds.
Another brilliant marketing ploy came in 2007, when, on April 1, BMW unveiled a system that could send messages to other drivers by using Reactive User Sound Electronic (RUSE) particles. According to the ad run back then “The system uses particles which are embedded in the windscreen. All the driver has to do is say what’s on their mind and the RUSE particles react to their voice to translate their words into an instant message. It enables BMW drivers to communicate advice, warnings, helpful driving tips and salutations to other road users without even lifting a finger.”
One year later came the Canine Repellent Alloy Protection (CRAP) system. Created by Dr. Hans Zoff, it dealt with pesky dogs peeing on our wheels all the time. How, you ask? Well, by “administering an immediate, and relatively painfree, electric shock” to the poor creature, lifting its leg. The energy for those zaps came from the regenerative brakes and went by the name of Rim Impulse Power (R.I.P.).