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Foolish vehicle proposals arrive on April 1

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Auto manufacturers yuk it up over April Fools Ah, April 1, the most obnoxious day of the year.

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Auto manufacturers yuk it up over April Fools

Ah, April 1, the most obnoxious day of the year. A time when pranks and japes are all the rage, and you can hardly believe a single thing in your local news feed.

While Google and other tech companies usually take the cake for witty and inventive ways of being silly, auto manufacturers also cut loose, letting their PR teams put out some pretty zany ideas.

This year's April fools were no exception.

Subaru was first to the party, declaring an upcoming diesel, hybrid, convertible, all-wheel-drive version of their BRZ lightweight coupe. Given the BRZ's charm mostly comes from a light, tossable nature, it was pretty easy to see through this one, but a bit hilarious nonetheless.

Honda, not normally known for cutting loose, was next with a quick, playful jab at themselves. Having debuted the next-gen Odyssey with an available on-board vacuum cleaner at this year's New York Auto Show, Honda announced they'd be coming out with something called HondaHair.

Remember the old sucks-and-cuts infomercials? Yep, one of those - funny stuff, guys.

Volvo also took a page out of the self-deprecating playbook, poking fun at their safety-centric image with a full-body external airbag. The press release shows a great big marshmallow of a thing and is hilarious - except that you just know we might end up with such technology a few decades down the road.

Others joined in too: VW hearkening back to their W-12 Nardo concept cars, Mini with an on-board dating site. However, last tip of the hat goes to BMW with their Postnatal Royal Auto-Mobile. The acronym spells out PRAM and it's just what you'd expect: a little X5-looking self-propelled stroller.

Daniel Craig's million-dollar Range Rover bit part

Sitting through last summer's Skyfall, I was both thoroughly entertained and slightly annoyed - it's hard to find a blockbuster movie these days that isn't chock full of product placement.

The James Bond franchise has been linked to BMW in the past and, of course, Aston-Martin. Seeking to soak up a little of that super-agent glitz, Land Rover hired Bond Daniel Craig to show up at this year's New York Auto Show in the all-new Range Rover Sport. A video of Craig driving the truck was shown, he piloted the car onto the stage, walked along a line of photographers and disappeared offstage. All without saying a word.

For this no-liner, a reported $1 million fee was paid. Good heavens - he'll be able to afford any amount of blue Speedos he wants with that kind of cash.

JD Powers reports consumer frustration with specialty tires

According to consumer marketing information group JD Powers, buyers are getting tired (sorry, but the pun must be made) of low-rolling-resistance and run-flat tires.

Low-rolling-resistance tires are specially designed to help reduce drag and eke out better fuel-economy numbers; run-flats help manufacturers avoid packaging considerations with spare tires.

They're both handy when the car is new, but both cost much more to replace. Run-flats must be replaced in pairs as well.

What's more, run-flats also have punishing ride characteristics with their stiff sidewalls, and low-rolling-resistance tires often offer sub-par grip. BMW owners have been complaining about the company's switch to run-flats for years and this latest study shows how widespread the grumbling is - manufacturers ignore consumer concerns at their peril.

Luxury ambulances cut through Moscow traffic

In many ways, Russia is a Wild West frontier town for capitalism. Witness the latest dodge by wealthy Russians frustrated by heavy Moscow traffic: they just call up the ambulance.

Looking like an emergency vehicle on the outside, these vans are actually leather-lined palaces inside, and with lights and sirens flashing, they cut through the snarled Moscow traffic with impunity. Is this sort of thing legal? Of course not!

However, this is taking place in Russia, so you know those with deep pockets have the wherewithal to buy their way out of any situation. Also, who among us hasn't faced down a heavy traffic jam with the faint wish they could throw one of those 1970s cop show portable flashers on the roof and pass everyone?

Hennessey Venom takes fastest production car title

In Canada, we measure speeds in kilometres per hour. However, to fully grasp the significance of the speed of this little rocketship, you have to hear its terminal velocity in old imperial: 265.7 miles per hour

That's officially faster than a Bugatti Veyron and makes for the kid-pleasing statistic of "world's fastest production car."

Playground bragging rights won.

What's a Hennessey Venom? Well, it's basically a tiny Lotus Exige with a 1,244 horsepower (!) twin-turbo V-8 engine crammed in the back. If driving one is on your bucket list, better make sure it's dead last as it'll probably kill you.

Watch this space for all the best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to brakingnews@gmail.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendan_mcaleer.

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