Automotive High-Jinks and Pranks

What are your favorite automotive pranks or high-jinks? The exhaust whistle? Banana in the tail pipe? Changing all the radio presets to radio Lay ley?

Heres mine… it was dangerous, stupid, and we were lucky no one got killed. There I said it, so don’t do this at home.

It was summer '92, a warm night crickets were chirping and local bar just on the edge of a small town in my county was full. My good friends arch- rival had already been in there since 7 or 8 pm and it was now around 1030. We knew he almost always stayed til closing time and my friend wanted to pull a prank on him. He drove a late 60’s chevy pickup with an automatic transmission, and a 350 engine. It was a junker, it had been in countless fenderbenders and was a heap complete with wooden bumpers. We had recently watched the movie “moving violations” and decided to reenact a scene from the movie.

The truck was backed in against the building, which had a guard rail to keep the drunks from hitting it. Well we waited across the street while my friend climbed under the truck and unhooked the shift linkage and put the truck in reverse. He had chocked the wheels with bricks to make sure the truck did not roll away. This truck either never had a neutral safety switch or it didn’t work because it would start in gear. The truck would often stall while the owner was driving it when it was cold and we would see the guy starting it while never have taken the truck out of drive, so we realized our plan would work.

We left and came back just before closing time in one of my friends fathers 73 olds wagon(not the full size one, the smaller one). We parked across the street and watched as the guy got into the truck and started it up and got on the gas to rev the engine like people used to do with old cold Nature vehicles. He hit the guard rail hard, and I mean hard, and the truck stalled. I tell you we had to try really hard to keep our laughter down because we had the windows cracked on the car and we were trying to keep hidden. By this time he was frantically moving the shifter and cussing and restarted the truck we are assuming in what was supposed to be park. He was only about 6 inches from the guard rail at this point but he goosed it hard when he restarted the truck and slammed back into the guard rail. I was laughing so hard I wet my pants a bit.

Well by this time people had heard the commotion and come to help him out. There was lots of people laughing at him and hand waving and the bar tender came out yelling at him about his guard rail even though it didn’t receive much damage and it had been hit countless times before. Well they pop the hood and are looking under the hood with a flash light and they try it again. The truck again lurched backwards and just bumped the guard rail again to make a little noise. The bartender/owner was yelling at this point telling him to have that POS towed out of there, and telling the group not to restart the &^*&^^( truck. Well they closed the hood and he got a ride home from a buddy. It was after 2 am at this point and everyone was leaving and after about 15 minutes the parking lot was empty except for the truck. As the owner left for the night he inspected the guardrail and the truck and was cussing up a blue streak.

We went home and played Nintendo until about 4 am and decided to go back and hook the shifter back up.

Unfortunately we were not there when they came back to get the truck, but i can only imagine the confusion. The truck didn’t receive any measurable damage thanks to its wooden rear bumper, the guard rail was ok, and we got a great laugh. Oh the Summer of '92. What a time.

PS…Yes I had alot of extra time on my hands, and no, me and my two friends had nothing else better to do on a Saturday night, and I still don’t seeing as I am sitting here on a Saturday night reliving a memory that happened over 20 years ago.

By the time we were old enough to drink, we needed to make money so didn’t do any pranks. I already told the flat black eggs on Halloween and the police car, but a few years earlier, there was an old wooden bridge on the same road. We got some water balloons and were hiding under the bridge for a car to come by. Then we would jump out and throw the balloons on the windshield. We heard the planks rumbling so jumped out with perfect timing from both sides and hit the windshield square. Only problem was it was an old model T type with the split windshield. The old guy driving got pretty wet. He slammed on the brakes and he chased us down the railroad tracks for at least a block. We had to circle around a couple miles to make our way back home again. He was mad and of course we never would have done it if we had known but by the time we saw what was happening it was too late.

I’ve got a few personal incidents that are somewhat humorous thinking about them now but hate to delve into them. It could make me look kind of bad or stupid, or both…

There was an incident here many years ago that I had nothing to do with and the newspaper article the following day got a lot of chuckles.
Many years ago the Dodge dealer moved to a new building and the empty lot was right across the street from a 24 hour cafe. This cafe was where a lot of cops hung out late night.
There was a strong welded pipe rail across the back edge of the lot and this is generally where the cops parked; usually by backing in so they would be ready to go if a call came in.

You’ve no doubt heard the old story about chaining a rear axle and having it yanked out when the car moved. This actually happened here but whoever was responsible for sneaking up and chaining the rear axle of a police cruiser to that pipe rail didn’t use a heavy chain.

The story in the paper related that the 2 cops in the chained car were not injured but did receive a major jolt when the chain stretched and then broke. It was also reported that the car suffered very little damage.

Our favorite in shop class was to throw a charged capacitor to someone to catch. ZAP

A co-worker drove a Dodge Polara that was a used police car, brown in color which was the color used in this locale. He also had a very powerful flashlight.
After work one night we drove his car to a RR trestle and laid in wait for some gullible driver. One came by, we pulled out and using the flashlight like a spot we got him to pull over. We kept going thinking we were the ultimate pranksters.
The next car came by and it was 4 young guys more than likely up to no good like us. Try as we may that jerk never fell for it and we gave up.
Attempt #3 , that same car came by and they chased us for a bit.
After that we decided to part ways and go home before the real cops “lit us up”.

This isn’t exactly a prank on a car, but with one. I was on Pledge Trip for my college fraternity. We had certain tasks we had to perform before we could return to the frat house. All were legal but one: we had to steal a sign from a PA village and return with it. We knew that the brother from the village put us up to it. No one else would have heard of his little town. When we got there about 9 PM, we saw a large sign on the edge of a corn field. As we drove further, we saw a small sign with just the village name on it at the railroad tracks. We figured the smaller sign would easily fit in the back seat of my Austin America, but it was out in the open. We opted for the big sign. It was a good thing I had to carry tools with me (typical Brit car). We pulled out my ratchet wrenches and tried to remove the bolts in place. That wasn’t working, so we pushed and pulled the sign posts until we could lift the sign out of the ground and haul it into the corn field. Under cover of the late summer corn stalks, we were finally able to remove the posts. The 3rd man crawled into the back seat, and we pushed the sign into the foot well in front of him. It barely fit. Deed done, we headed back home. About 7 months later, I was in the frat house kitchen preparing breakfast on a Saturday. The village guy walks in with his mom, brothers and sisters, and a couple of aunts. He sees me and proudly announced that I was one of the guys that stole the village sign. Oh, great. Jail time, I thought. Instead, they all laughed big-time and said they couldn’t remember any excitement in their little village before that and thanked me for the fun that ensued trying to figure out who did it. And yes, I was relieved.

Back when I was 16, my friends and I discovered CB radio. We all got them and went out cruising around, not looking for trouble exactly, but not really up to any good either. My friend a couple cars in front had a hand-held spotlight with a red lens. He held it up and waved it around while we were following some bikers. The next car in front of me started flashing his high and low beams, and not to be a party pooper, I followed suit, also hitting my hazards for maximum effect. While I looked on in a mix of horror and amusement, we basically pulled over a motorcycle gang that thought we were the police. I have no idea what they thought as we roared by them, but they remained stopped and didn’t seem to follow us.

Back in high school a drummer had a beetle and, as is a common prank with those, we’d lift it ever so slightly and rest it on rocks or bricks with tires barely clearing the ground. He’s hop in and zzzzzzzzzzzzz go nowhere fast.
The mean part is, as musicians we’d always hang around in the band room after school and by the time he was spinning his wheels…EVERYONE who might assist him was already long gone.
( he soon learned to look first )

Here at the dealership some of our aftermarket delivery people drive IN to the shop and park right in front of my counter ( most of them walk in from 7th or 8th street, the shop spans the entire block ). If there was time to engage the driver with additional look-ups or camparisons the techs would sneak over and do things to their Rangers like tailgate loose but still up, radio full blast, turn signals and flashers on, seat all the way forward, hood popped, steering wheel turned all the way, and maybe just maybe a floor jack under the rear axle lifting it a tad so the wheels spin.

Local kids would sometimes pop the hood, probably at night, and switch the spark plug wires on my dad’s car, which would result in a fix-it session with a lot of cuss words the next day until he figured out it was just the wires had been switched … lol …

My favorite car prank never actually happened. In real life that is. As far as I know anyway. It was on that 1950’s TV show “Leave it to Beaver”. As a practical joke, Wally and his brother Beaver chained the chassis of their teenage neighbor and nemesis Lumpy’s car to a fence post. The idea was that he’d try to drive away, but the car wouldn’t move. Unfortunately Wally and Beaver forgot to take up all the slack in the chain first, so when Lumpy drove away, he was able to build up some speed, then when the chain came to the end, it jerked the chassis to a complete stop, and the car body came loose from the chassis and continued on its own, sliding down the road with a puzzled Lumpy at the driver’s seat.

We tied a friend’s truck hitch to a newly planted three a while back. They don’t plant trees the way they used to. He dragged that thing behind him all the way home.

A guy I knew pretty well and have since lost touch with used to work for a garage door company back in the 70s and his job was mostly residential doors. He was provided a company pickup and back then the bumpers were pretty heavy steel. His job took him over the NW part of OK.

In the Glass Mountains there is a meandering 2 lane (now 4) that was about 30 miles long and back then there was very little traffic on it. His hobby was to put 2 wheels off into the grass and knock down those little poles with the amber reflectors. It might be a couple here, half a dozen there, and so on accompanied now and then with a right front bumper bank shot of a speed limit sign. Needless to say, the right front of that pickup was banged up a bit.

He came by early one morning and asked for help in removing something from the rear axle before his boss found out about it. Apparently on the way home that night he mowed down someone’s mailbox and the entire thing (pressure treated wood) had jammed between the axle and bed. We had to cut the mailbox out in pieces as it could not even be kicked loose.

He stated there was a shower of sparks behind him that night until the asphalt ground enough off of the box to where it wasn’t hitting the pavement anymore.

Some friends of mine used to find an unattended shopping cart, nudge up behind it with their P.O.S. van and then proceed to accelerate it as much as possible, hitting the brakes at the last second, then watch as the cart smashed into a concrete wall, accordioning itself, or just crazily went into the grass. (you needed a fairly smooth parking lot and a cart that wasn’t too bad to get far with this I suspect)

A prank that used to be done in my area when I was a teenager was reversing the accelerator spring. Vehicles had hood releases out in the open and not tucked away inside the cabin back then. The “prank” sometimes led to the destruction of an engine because of a curious quirk in the human psyche. Some people did not switch off the ignition when the engine roared to life. They just let the rpm stay at maximum until the engine self-destructed.

Another prank was to solder 3 wires on a relay and attach it under the hood. One wire went to the positive post…one went to the horn and one went to any wire that was energized when the ignition key was turned. The horn continued to blare even if the key switch was turned off. The only way to turn off the horn was to get under the hood and unclip the leads of the relay. Some people actually hid the wires but the few times I did this prank…I left the leads and relay plainly visible. I was originally pranked and used that relay several times before someone drove off with it.

Similar to missleman’s reply, we’d connect a wire from a turn signal wire to the horn. Then when the driver got going and made a turn, the horn would blow in sync with the blinkers. Not sure why it never blew a fuse.

One business where I worked, one co-worker there had a brand new fancy car of some sort. And he tended to arrive early, and always parked near to the door and parked on the line, so to cover two parking spots. You know, so he wouldn’t get dinged. One day two of the employees there got tired of him always using two prime parking spots close to the door, so each of them parked their car right up next to his, with only one inch to spare, on both sides. He couldn’t even open the door to get in the car! After that he used a single parking spot. All the way at the back of the lot.

My friends did the potato in the tailpipe gag to me on my first car, a 1974 Cadillac, expecting it to not start I guess. My car was parked on a sloping driveway. I got in, turned the key, and it started right up. I didn’t notice anything unusual. The 500 cid V8 noticed the obstruction about as much as an elephant would notice a gnat. My friends, however, flagged me down and showed me the results: The potato had launched like a mortar shell from my exhaust, impacted the pavement leaving a discernible mark, flown across the street, and ended up on the neighbor’s porch. If the angle had been a little different, it probably would have gone through their window.

Another fun thing we used to do with my first car–during a period of time when I had a bad muffler: I’d noticed that if I floored the car, then let off the gas suddenly, there would be a pause of perhaps 5 seconds, followed by a humongous backfire from unburnt gas collecting in the muffler. We used to occasionally time it to surprise pedestrians and other motorists. One evening with my best friend in the car, I’d just finished gunning it to make a light. I hadn’t even planned on playing this trick, but we ended up under a viaduct next to a guy in a little Honda CVCC when the backfire occurred, perfectly timed, right next to the poor guy. The backfire was so loud that it startled me, and I was used to it. It sounded for all the world like the mother of all cherry bombs and for a moment I wondered if the car was still running or if I’d finally blown it up. It was night time and you could clearly see the flash from the backfire reflecting off the damp road and the walls of the viaduct. The guy in the Honda swerved all over the road and may have soiled himself… He was staring straight ahead, white as a ghost, with a death grip on the steering wheel when he caught up at the next light. I always felt a little bad about that one, though it was inadvertent. It also pretty much destroyed what was left of my muffler, which fell off the next morning.

I got my hands on one of those RF remote controlled fart boxes a couple of years ago. It basically is a box with a speaker that makes fart noises on command when you press the button on a keyfob. I stuck it under the passenger seat of a coworker’s car (he leaves his car unlocked). We’d usually leave around the same time and would be on the same road for a bit so I’d drive behind him and remote fart the thing for a bit.
It took him about a week to figure out where it was coming from.

One of my wife’s banking coworkers got the worst from those girls.

  • Grease under the door handle lip.
  • Shrink wrap around the passenger cabin ( up one side , accross the roof , down the other side, under, and repeat so the doors can’t be opened.
  • Up on bricks.

Even had a repo friend use his liitle tow truck to move this car accross the street to a different parking area.

In the days of the desk phone, where the handset sits accross the cradle, she’d put shaving cream on the ear piece.

When I was younger, I used to work at a pizzeria. One popular prank was to take a lump of pizza dough and place it in the vehicle’s ashtray, under a door handle, etc. If you’re not familiar with pizza dough, or pretty much any dough left unrefrigerated, it expands and expands and expands to many, many times its initial volume. Especially on a hot summer day in a closed up car. The poor victim would return to his car to find an oozing monster that had pushed the closed ashtray open and drooped down to the floor, often enveloping the ashtray and a portion of the dash. Of course the yeasty smell on a hot day in a closed car was a bonus for the perpetrator.

I never participated in these, as I find destructive practical jokes very unfunny, but I witnessed firsthand the results. Another popular one I saw was where they’d entirely fill the victim’s car with broken down cardboard boxes after we got a food order from our supplier.

I always made sure I locked my car…

Another popular one I saw was where they'd entirely fill the victim's car with broken down cardboard boxes after we got a food order from our supplier.

If they only needed to tape the seams again to be whole, then if someone was having to move, or help someone move, that would be a good thing; they’d have a ton of boxes to put stuff in