QotW: What’s the biggest joke in the automotive world?

Happy April Fools’ Day. Instead of playing a joke on you this year, we’re going to explore the jokes that this cruel world has played on all of us. It would be too easy to mock the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, a car so ugly and strange it’s almost endearing. Instead, we’re going to laugh at how Nissan actually spent good money to produce it during a time when it was absolutely slashing costs in all other aspects. The CrossCab came out just as Nissan began obliterating decades of hard-earned reputation by installing its worst generation of CVTs across its entire lineup. Rumor is that Carlos Ghosn’s wife came up with the idea, which fast-tracked the car into production. That alone should have been cause enough to have sent him packing in a musical instrument box. Your answers of the week don’t have to be a specific car, though many certainly deserve the ridicule. They can be a personal story, a trend, or a sad universal truth.

What’s the biggest joke in the automotive world?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What car still feels new to you even though it’s actually old?“.

The Y2K era, give or take a couple of years, seemed to be the sweet spot in which many JNCers still feel that cars are “new”. In truth, these cars are nearing the 25-year mark in which they become official classics, eligible for historic plates and collector insurance and, if they were foreign-market, import into the United States.

Pre-turn of the millennium suggestions came in the form of MikeRL411‘s Infiniti J30 and Taylor C‘s A32 Nissan Maxima. Surprisingly, the Pontiac Vibe received two votes, from nlpnt and Lee L while its Toyota Matrix twin received none.

Post-2000 examples included streetspirit‘s 2006 Honda Civic and エーイダン‘s nomination of a 3rd-gen Toyota Prius. However, the winner this week was returning champion Alan, for his ode to the Lexus LS430.

My 2002 LS430.

I’m in a line of business that brings me in contact with lots of cars – old ones, new ones, typically special and often very expensive ones. I’ve been lucky to drive many very interesting machines over the years, including top-tier luxury machines. German and British things that cost more than the average Missourian’s comfy suburban three-bedroom home.

Big Lex holds up. Never disappoints. Always feels extraordinary. The car oozes quality and refinement at every level. The way the doors shut, the feel of the materials used (even in places where hands don’t normally go), the smoothness and response of the engine and transmission, the way it glides down the road like buttered grease, and the oh-so-perfectly balanced driving experience. It feels like an army of dedicated engineers at the top of their game obsessed over every last detail, because they did.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

This post is filed under: Question of the Week.

23 Responses to QotW: What’s the biggest joke in the automotive world?

  1. Lakdasa says:

    I want to say the “Juke is a Joke”, but seems that they are doing good in sales for Nissan. The joke would be the Alfa / Nissan cars that saw the light of the world. Rather than mating the reliable (for the time) and efficient Nissan engines they used Alfa Romeo running gear. And most importantly rather than the beautiful Italian body they had a Nissan Pulsar body. Both the companies wanted to play a joke on the unsuspecting public. The name of the vehicle Alfa Romeo Arna. Seems like they had a screw loose somewhere.

  2. Fred Langille says:

    …. it’s not so much that the Murano itself was a joke. Look at the movie that featured it, “Spy Kids”? With Banderas in it? Sheesh!

  3. Michael Jue says:

    You mean besides The Elon Fuglytruck?

  4. RX626 says:

    A joke situation, it may be in a sense two fads that are currently happening.
    One is the craze for off-road supercars like the Porsche 911 Dakar and the Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato.
    The other is the craze for high-performance SUVs with tarmac performance in mind, like the Dodge Durango Hellcat and Lamborghini Urus Performante.

    Oddly enough, people living in the 2020s seem to want to bring cars that are originally designed to drive on tarmac to off-road and drive on tarmac in cars that are originally designed to drive off-road.

    • StreetSpirit says:

      honestly i like both, the ide of a safari miata complete with big rally lights has been haunting me, as well as a 98 grand cherokee with a rwd conversion for sliding around or autocrossing.

  5. Ryan Senensky says:

    Probably that time Nissan gaslit the world with the IDX everyone said they liked it and wanted to buy it then a bean counter in a position of power canned it since it wouldn’t be a feasible rental car.

  6. JJ says:

    The “sport” mode on my Honda Pilot, or any other 3 row SUV.

  7. R100guy says:

    C Y B E R T R U C K

  8. Fred Langille says:

    How about the intials “E … D … S … L”?

  9. speedie says:

    If I had to pick a Japanese car it might be the Suzuki X-90. I just cant recall anyone at the time saying they needed a two seat, short-wheelbase, AWD vehicle that looked like a plastic windup toy you got from a candy dispenser outside the supermarket. That out of the way, my actual answer would be the Pontiac Aztek. It broke every single rule on car design about proportions and cohesiveness. Its like they asked each designer to submit a different part (fender, headlight, door, cladding, etc,) and then made it all fit. Whenever I wake up from a nightmare I just put an image of it in my head and calm down knowing that nothing in my dream was as scary as an Aztek.

    • StreetSpirit says:

      the x-90 is the joke we can all appreciate, the aztek on the other hand left everyone with a bitter aftertaste. worst part about the aztek joke is that all the major manufacturers are currently telling their own slightly tweaked version like some tiktok challenge

  10. Julien says:

    A CEO in a travel case.

  11. Mark F Newton-John says:

    No Nissan is as funky as the F10.

  12. StreetSpirit says:

    A good joke is one we can all laugh at and sometimes good jokes come in small packages.

    From my neighbor and his brother hooning and crashing one when they still lived in indonesia to goofs on the internet all over the world doing stoppies like they’re a BMX bike.

    Heck, even i myself tried dropping in on my skateboard while my equally ‘wise’ buddy operated the hydraulic tilt-bed. I nominate the hijet and all it’s kei cousins!

    i’m pretty sure that once i get to removing the bed i’ll be looking to see how she slides before we convert it into a JDM vanning inspired mobile bar.

    maybe not a joke in and of itself but defineatly a jester of the car world!

  13. Mitsubishi Magna says:

    I would definitely say that the Kia Soul has no soul

  14. Wigg1 says:

    Inspired by Savage Geese?


    a great review on the epic cross cab Murano

  15. エーイダン says:

    The Chrysler PT Cruiser. My mother had one when I was not but a lad. It’s lack of guts and it’s front-wheel drive caused my mother to dub it “the Pity Cruiser” due to it’s not luck-lustre but totally absent performance. The appearance was…… awkward……like the automotive styling equivalent of Garth from Wayne’s World. Styling-wise, to most it is uglier than finding you owe HM Revenue & Customs £2560.87 in taxes. Not even 9 pints of Innis & Gunn Vanishing Point (Scottish beer with 11% abv) can make it look appealing.

    That being said…..don’t knock it until you stuff it to the brim with cargo. Add 2 adults and a 13-year old into the contents. That little blue blob was how we moved house, albeit in a few trips laden with everything from totes to the dining set, etc.

    To summarise, the PT is like a now 20-year old American army rucksack I use. Uglier than Motley Crue, aging like milk in terms of looks and gets a lot of funny looks from passersby. However, like that old secondhand rucksack it sure can haul a lot and was pretty practical for it’s comparative size and cost on the secondhand market.

  16. Jonathan P. says:

    Two big jokes to me are
    1. Automotive R&D, engineers, well, whoever’s responsible for making things more difficult to do an oil change and seemingly placed random features and technology nobody asked for over reliability and longevity of the car.
    2. People feeling the need to leave a long Number 11 when leaving a cars & coffee. In the middle of town. In broad daylight. In a semi-residential area.

    (Dis)Honorable mentions to the EPA for “cracking down” on aftermarket tuners and the Cash for Clunkers program that iced a lot of good reliable used cars and forced more people into the new car market.

  17. Jonathan P. says:

    Sigh. Spam check, please.

  18. Taylor C. says:

    I think one of the biggest jokes we Americans have fallen for is the sporty image that SUVs have created. I have nothing against straight-up 4×4 SUVs that serve their duties, but cross-overs have essentially taken over everything.

    Minivans were perfect 7-passenger transport mobiles, but then the moms didn’t want to be associated with the “soccer mom mobile,” and therefore automotive companies squeeeezed two extra seats to the SUV’s cargo area, and voila!, folks flocked to them. However, now those consumers were driving less efficient, less space, less utility vehicles. Further, all the soccer field parking lots were filled with SUVs now, so the joke’s on us!

    We’re honestly not any safer driving SUVs. Their blindspots are huge, and the glass vs. sheetmetal ratio is to the point where many have started looking like exaggerated Hot Wheels cars. This makes it necessary for the back-up camera; we would literally be backing up blind without it. Higher roll centers, the sense of “more sheetmetal” rather than “more nimble,” not to mention “my car’s bigger than yours” have resulted in people tailing me harder because they’re sitting higher.

    The commercials portray the SUVs flying along the off-beaten snow path, or out in the dirt flats racing into the sunset. Or the one where the cross-over is chasing the dog, who’s chasing the squirrel, and the driver glares at the camera, telling us that he’s going to switch it to “sport mode.” Who’s really doing that? Most of the SUVs are on fuel efficiency tires, yet the consumers tell me that they’re ready to drive through the snow. Last time I checked with Tire Rack, a set of winter tires on a FWD easily outperforms an AWD on non-winter tires.

    Europeans have held onto station wagons and sedans, but I see crossovers a lot there nowadays. Looks like they’re falling for the joke as well.

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