Spaf's 2008 April Fools Prank

The Story

Set Up

I really got a new BMW 750Li at the end of March 2008. The story in my first email on this topic was truthful on this point.

However, when I was at the dealership to pick up the car, I happened to hear the story of a loaner BMW 750 that had been totaled the night before -- and in the same color as mine! Basically, the story behind it is that the dealer (DeFouw BMW -- really good folks) often makes a loaner car available to customers when they need to leave their cars for service. They loaned the 750 out to a student who left a car for service; the student loaned the car to a buddy (a violation of the agreement); the buddy decided to show off to friends, and took them out on a back road in the car; he got the car going too fast on a wet, unfamiliar road. The car went off the road, hit two trees, and went through the wall of the house. (And to make it worse, the driver had no valid license or insurance and is from outside the US!)

Well, seeing the car, and seeing it was the same color as my new car, an idea for an April Fool's joke was born. It was much better than the one I had been working on (which I will develop further for a future year). I took some pictures of the car at home. I then returned to the dealer the next day with a camera and Elizabeth, and she took all the pictures. Of course, we advanced the date on the camera to April 1. Kathy "tsk-tsked" but Elizabeth said she was interested in seeing how I put it all together. (She's going to be very dangerous as she gets older.)

I then put together the first email and sent it out to a lot of people (some, oddly, didn't get it -- spam filters?) and posted pictures to Facebook. I made sure to mention that the car was peppy and I wondered how fast it would go...a set-up for the 2nd email.

April 1

The April Fools email went out around 9am on the morning of April 1, with a simultaneous posting of the pictures on my page on Facebook. Over the space of the next 6 hours, about 70%-80% of the people (I stopped counting at about 80) who got the email or saw the Facebook page fell for the joke. A few caught on shortly thereafter when they saw the date, and the rest I either gave a broader hint ("A terrible way to start April Fools Day, isn't it?") or told outright.

A few people simply don't take me seriously, I guess, and that accounts for the 25% or so. Several were waiting for me to spring something on April 1. Others looked at the pictures and noted differences (different wheels, different color interior). One person decided the damage didn't look like it was from hitting a tree (although it was, partially). One noted that it wasn't sunny here today but was in the picture. And one even checked the "police blotter" to be sure, and another noted that the bail was out of line with worse offenses! After a while, people were posting to the Facebook page giving away the story, so latecomers there missed out on the joke.

My sister is really angry with me -- she fell for it. A colleague at work was upset with me if I was actually driving that fast, but was reassured that I wasn't. Oddly, the vast majority of people commiserated about the damaged car, but only a couple asked about my "injuries," and only one asked if I needed a car to use (he's the friend I'll ask to help bury the bodies if it comes to that :-).


Rest assured that I am a very careful driver, seldom exceed the speed limit by much (if any), and certainly wouldn't try to outrun a state police car. I'm a little amazed so many people accepted that -- I didn't realize people thought I was such a rogue! Furthermore, one of the reasons I drive the BMW (besides pure comfort) is that it is one of the better cars on the road for both handling and safety. For example, the 4 guys that crashed the loaner, at high speed? They all walked away without injury: the car was designed to collapse in a controlled manner and protect the occupants. And I always wear my seatbelt!

So, my apologies (especially to my sister) if I upset any of you. To those of you who were worried about the car -- it is okay. And I hope you had a fun April 1st!

Here is the first (real) email, and the second (joke) email.

P.S. The allusion about when I was 19 is true. Back then, I did outrun a police car. In a 1973 Lotus Europa. There are other stories from those days, including why I don't like surprise parties, but you have to buy the rounds to hear them.

Real email

From: Gene Spafford <>
Date: Mar 29, 2008
To: friends
Subject: My new car


So, you may have heard that I got a new car for my birthday (almost).

One of my few indulgences is that I lease a BMW. With all the driving to/from Indy, Chicago, and elsewhere, I figure I want a car that is comfortable and fun to drive.

BMW has a special inventory reduction sale in process for current leaseholders. I took advantage of it, and got into a new car 4 months early. It is going to save me about $3000 over the next 2 years, so it's a good deal.

Enclosed are pictures of the new Spaf-mobile!

This 2008 model appears zippier than my 2006 model. I'll have to see how it behaves. I've gotten earlier ones up to about 120mph (not regularly :-), and this car doesn't act like it likes running below 50. :-)

If you're around and we head out to lunch or something, I'll be happy to drive!


New car
New car
New car
New car

April First email

From: Gene Spafford <>
Date: Apr 1, 2008
To: friends
Subject: Re: My new car


Well, some of you called after seeing this on the morning news, so I guess I better email something to the people I told about my new car.

I snapped the enclosed pictures on the way home this morning after it was towed. Sigh. The car was only 3 days old. :-(

Text after the first picture.

Wrecked car

So, late last night, I was a little depressed, so I decided to go for a drive. I got out on the expressway, and was perhaps thinking that what the heck -- the road was empty and it would be interesting to see how fast the car could go. I mean, the speedometer goes up to 160! (My lawyer says I have to phrase this carefully...) Now, I am a law-abiding citizen and only exceed the speed limit by accident. So, hypothetically, I might have not been paying attention and the speed could have crept up some. And hypothetically speaking, it is a fine car that handles at 120mph exactly like at 60mph -- it is really impossible to tell how fast the car is going without looking. (Which I ALWAYS do, of course.)

Well, hypothetically, I might have rounded a turn and seen a state police car on the side of the road operating radar. And, had I been exceeding the speed limit (ahem) I might have panicked a bit and taken the next exit quickly, turned off my lights, and pulled into a nearby driveway to elude said law enforcement. (Hey, it worked when I was 19, but that is a story for another time.)

Unfortunately, with the lights (hypothetically) off, I didn't see the bend in the driveway, or the tree (not hypothetical) until too late at about 50 mph (allegedly) on a wet driveway. :-(

German engineering is good for safety, too. Only 11 stitches, and a lot of bruises but no fractures. Some air bag burns on my face. Pulled muscles from the seatbelt. Otherwise, as functional as I ever am.

And a $150,000 bond with a court appearance on Friday. (Damn! At least I wasn't drinking.)

And Kathy not talking to me. I mean REALLY angry. Elizabeth is not amused either.

And I don't want to think about the insurance. Or facing the nice guys at DeFouw who leased the car to me.

Think I could make back some of the deductible if I sell parts on eBay? :-(

Wrecked car
Wrecked car

A heck of a way to start the month, don't you think?

Drive safely!