Everyone loves a hidden feature or message.
Back in 1979, Atari's Director of Software Development appropriated the term Easter egg to mean a hidden message in a video game. The concept expanded and came to mean hidden images, messages, or even features. The term caught on, and Easter eggs pop up just about everywhere now, including in cars. Like a traditional Easter egg hunt, you have to be observant or go looking for them in the right places. Automotive Easter eggs have become all the rage recently and these are some of our favorites.
Jeep's designers love their Easter eggs, and the Renegade is full of them. Hidden everywhere in plain and hidden sight are markings of Jeep grills, but the strangest little reference is tucked away behind the fuel door to the filler cap. It could be a reference to the belief that spiders are attracted to the smell of gasoline, or that the Renegade is made by Fiat, famous for its Spider models. Either way, pop the gas flap on a Jeep Renegade, and you'll spot a picture of a spider engraved in the gas cap surround and the legend "Ciao Baby!"
The Chrysler 200 only sticks in our minds for one reason, and that's due to Chrysler's extended middle finger to GM hidden in the car. Unless you pay close attention, the image of the Detroit skyline stamped on the rubber mat in the storage bin underneath the rotary shifter is relatively innocuous, until you pay close attention and realize there is a building missing. The missing building is called the Renaissance Center, and it's the General Motors World Headquarters. "Oh really, what a surprise," was the dry response from the interior design boss, Klaus Busse, when asked about it by The Wall Street Journal.
Tesla likes to slip in Easter eggs to its models; some are crass, and many reference movies. The volume going to 11 as a reference to the classic Spinal Tap movie is our real favorite, but the Xmas light show on the Model X is the real Easter egg show stopper. It's triggered by holding down the "T" button on the infotainment screen then entering the code "holiday." The Falcon Wing doors swing open, and the lights start to dance in time to the music. The music is "Wizards in Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the piece that's often used for animated Christmas light displays.
Working something in for the nerds in a car's headlights deserves a round of applause. Ford wasn't the first to do it, but we love the little celebration of Ford's 100th anniversary. If you look at the 2005-2006 Ford GT head-on, you can see the numerals for 100 as the design on the left headlight. If you see it in your rearview mirror, you see the 100 in the other headlight.
Two little Easter eggs have popped up late in the run of the 2020 model year Corvette and were first spotted by Kerbeck Corvette of Atlantic City. The less subtle surprise appears at the bottom of the windscreen on the passenger side in the form of a Team Corvette logo. On the other side, next to all the little legally required etchings that nobody studies, is a little silhouette image of Zora-Arkus Duntov, the grandfather of the Corvette. Duntov was responsible for the Corvette becoming a real sports car and a proponent of making it mid-engined.
The existence of automotive Easter eggs are often let slip by public relations departments. However, Honda's designers didn't send a memo to the PR team about the 10th generation Civic's hidden feature. In some of the higher trim models, you can find an embossed set of images on the spill mat's underside in the center console. The detailed pictures on each mat celebrate Honda's history of racing and breadth of design.
There are four different designs out there. The vehicles displayed are the RA106 Formula 1 car driven by Jenson Button, Honda's GT-1 class winning Honda S800, and the RC213V motorcycle piloted by MotoGP champion Marc Márquez. The HondaJet private passenger airplane is featured on all four designs. The second features the McLaren Honda MP4/5B F1 car and the RC166 race bike, the third shows the NS500 motorcycle and the robot ASIMO, while the fourth features the Curtiss Special and the RA272 race cars.
Volvo is not a brand you would expect to have a fun, cheerful Easter egg in one of its vehicles. However, on the back of one of the rear storage bins, owners have found a google-eyed spider and its web. The story behind it comes from designers needing to design in ridges to make the injection-molded plastics rigid. Vice President of 'Vehicle Line 90,' Dennis Nobelius, didn't like the original design, so he added the final touch with the kids in mind.
It's not a big secret that the Chrysler Pacifica became the fourth generation of the Dodge Caravan. In fact, FCA celebrates that with a depiction of the three generations of Dodge caravan starting in 1984 that lead to the current model. If you're one of the few people that own the minivan rather than an SUV, you can find it on the rubber mat sitting underneath the infotainment system.
If you believe the rumor, this Easter egg from the European hatchback has a great little story behind it. According to lore, a designer dared a co-worker to slip a shark into the car somewhere, hidden enough to make it through to production but noticeable enough that some people could find it. Hence, 2004 models of the popular little hatchback have the shark engraved into one of the glovebox hinges. The story could be apocryphal, though, as the hinge found its way into a couple of other Vauxhall vehicles, including the Astra and Zafira.
Jeep loves Easter eggs and often hides more than one at a time. On the Wrangler Unlimited, we recently discovered five Easter eggs after a cursory examination. On the tailgate is a plaque detailing some specs for the long and short wheelbase models. Tucked under the windscreen wipers are a pair of sandals, and on the windshield, wheels, and gear selector, you can find small illustrations of the Willys Jeep.
The sandals are a curiousity and pop up on the Gladiator as well. They're a reference to a veteran journalist called Rick Pewe. He's known in the industry for showing up to go off-roading in a pair of sandals. He's also consulted with Jeep, and his insight and input have been of enough value the brand has honored him with Easter eggs through the current range.
As we've seen, automakers aren't afraid of throwing a little shade at the competition with the occasional Easter egg. However, the ones Ram has tucked away in the new 1500 TRX are outright savage. The first is in the center console and uses the now traditional rubber mat Easter egg format. On the mat is a 1:60 scale diagram showing a human, a TRX truck, and a T-Rex towering over a Velociraptor (in reference to the Ford F-150 Raptor). The second illustration is tucked under the hood and on the airbag cover. It shows the head of Tyrannosaurus Rex clenching a Velociraptor in its much larger jaws.
We're not sure you can call them Easter eggs when the automaker broadcasts the features, but we'll bite because the Hummers are that cool. The two that stand out are the Sea of Tranquility speaker covers and the Watts to Freedom launch control mode.
The Sea of Tranquility is where Apollo 11 landed in 1969 on the moon. The reference on the speaker covers is something to do with taking a step for humanity by moving the auto industry into an electric future. Watts to Freedom references iconic TV spots, like Bob Seger singing "Like a Rock" over a Chevy Silverado 1500 advert, and the legendary Heartbeat of America campaign that endured from 1986 to 1993. It also means the Hummer has a WTF mode, which appeals to our inner teenagers.