Car manufacturers have huge marketing budgets, and a giant proportion of that money goes on their online activity. While web developers will try to keep 404 errors to a minimum, all sites need a 404 page, so you may as well have a little fun with it.
Car makers are always telling us how "innovative" and "unique" their cars are, but what about their websites? Some car companies go the extra mile when it comes to their web design, and it shows. Here we celebrate the cool, the quirky and the sheer brilliance of 404 web page design in the online automotive world.
We've separated them into Legend, Top, Mid, Low and Bottom tiers to give full credit to those who deserve it, and none to those who don't.
An homage to a legend
Realising that the website error code carried the same three numbers as one of their most famous cars, the french manufacturer present you with an image of a Peugeot 404 upon landing on a non-existent page.
This is not just any Peugeot 404 though, this is the 404 Diesel World Record Car that set 22 world records in 72 hours back in 1965, in order to prove that their diesel tech was better than what Mercedes-Benz could come up with.
Bravo, Peugeot. A fantastic way to pay homage to a historic car.
HERE IN SPIRIT.We expected nothing less than the best from the manufacturer of the world's finest vehicles. Turns out they're the manufacturer of the world's finest web pages too (or at least their web developers are).
HERE IN SPIRIT proclaims the web page... which is a beautiful way of saying "not here". They then ask the question "may we drive you elsewhere?" before proudly proclaiming that they can "turn almost every request into reality". Unfortunately, this URL isn't one of them, so they ask if we'd like to see some of their latest Bespoke commissions.
Yes, yes we would.
A word to the wise
"The intrepid explorer takes the road less traveled... unfortunately this one ends here."
What a lovely way to introduce you to a 404 error page. It's great to see the web team at Morgan putting as much care and attention to detail into their website as they do their cars.
This brings legend tier to an end - but there's still plenty of great design, wit and quirkiness to come in the top tier.
German humour on point
Time for some typical German humour now from one of the world's largest car manufacturers, Volkswagen.
After apologising for the fact that you typed in the wrong URL, you are then served with the line "if only everything was as reliable as a Volkswagen".
Quirky and witty but with a serious side to it - that's the Volkswagen we all know and love.
Moving North from the Germans and up into Swedish territory, you'll find a resurgent Volvo who have been on a roll in recent years, launching some beautiful cars that have been well received by both press and public.
Their web designers are on a roll too, and the 404 page says "Oops! Sorry, Swedes are resourceful, but we couldn't find what you were looking for."
We couldn't have said it any better ourselves!
NEVER STOP EXPLORING
NEVER STOP EXPLORING is the message from Jeep, who are known all over their world for their hugely capable off-road adventure vehicles. They have cleverly weaved in the fact that their go-anywhere vehicles are able to keep on going even after the road ends with the nicely worded sentence "the path ends here, but your journey doesn't". Nice work guys.
MINI's UK site uses what appears to be a typical London street as your 404 destination, and after declaring that SOMETHING WENT WRONG they cheekily suggest that "the page has gone on an adventure".
Pushing MINI up into the top tier however is their US website, which uses a picture of an off-road spec Countryman in the middle of the desert.
A more than decent effort from the British brand.
A BUMP IN THE ROAD
BMW make some top-tier cars, and they've comfortably made the top tier of 404 error pages with some nicely worded copy.
"A BUMP IN THE ROAD." Says the website, before encouraging you to not let this stop you. "After all, every journey has its twists and turns."
What a lovely way to look at life, let alone just your web browsing experience.
Mustang + burnout = win
Ford is another manufacturer where you have to look to their US website for some 404 page goodness, this time in the form of a Mustang doing a burnout.
Not entirely sure what reference the tyre-shredding Mustang has to the "sometimes things don't go as planned" message. Did the pictured 'stang not mean to do a burnout?
It doesn't matter really, the fact that they've included such a cool image is enough to grant them access into the top tier.
ASIMO is in town
Honda have managed to steer clear of using the "wrong turn" phrase that a massive proportion of car manufacturers seem to love (see: bottom tier), and instead gone for the far more friendly sentence "whoops... looks like you've gone off the map".
Even the "hit the back button and have another go" wording is more benevolent than the "try again" that many others use.
They've even managed to get ASIMO (their famous little humanoid robot) in there too, and he's bringing coffee, which is nice.
Abarths are too fast for you
Up first we have Abarth, who have taken their 404 page as an opportunity to highlight the performance-oriented nature of their cars.
"YOUR ABARTH WAS FASTER" they proudly declare. So fast, in fact, that "the page you were looking for has been left behind".
The Abarth Scorpion-branded wall gave them extra points too, and only just misses out on a top-tier spot.
Dodge is (sadly) a manufacturer we don't get in the UK anymore, but they make some more than decent cars and their 404 page is decent too.
It features a Dodge Charger Daytona, which is a 6.2-litre monster. It's also sat on a race track, which confuses things a little bit because the page says "this track is closed".
Maybe it's broken down. It does appear to be facing the wrong way...
Limited edition web page
Some unexpected high-grade banter from Lexus on their US 404 page. When you land on it, you're greeted by a fairly bland and generic image but then it hits you.
It says "you've found our limited-edition missing page", which is not only witty, it gives the user a very minor but definite sense of achievement.
Lexus' UK 404 page was so boring that we couldn't elevate them to the top tier, unfortunately.
DREAM FIAT VEHICLE
Fiat have been getting their money's worth out of the 500's design for some time now, what with the release of the 500L, 500X, and the fact that they haven't really changed the car's looks since it was relaunched way back in 2007.
They've got it on their 404 page too, with a little message to say "Oops, we haven't built yet what you're looking for". While that sentence doesn't really make any sense, they do encourage you to "keep on travelling with us", so we thought that was worthy of a mid-tier spot.
The US site is cool too, and lets you know that while the URL you typed in is a fantasy, your dream Fiat vehicle isn't!
Chiron. Just Chiron.
Bugatti have managed to drag themselves into the mid tier for simply having a picture of a Chiron on their 404 error page.
There's no other reason. The Chiron is ridiculously cool and while it is unfortunately paired with the generic "you took a wrong turn" wording, it does at least appear to be at high speed, which is enough for us.
Just look at it!
Wrong turn = Low Tier
Audi is top of the Low Tier for their snowy (seasonal?) effort but the "wrong turn" phrase is so overused in this context that it's stuck down with the Isuzus of the world.
Other brands languishing near the bottom of this list include those who also went for sat nav-type phrases such as Infiniti, Nissan, Renault and smart.
Others who managed to climb out of the Bottom Tier are those such as Bentley, Dacia, Mercedes-AMG and SEAT and Skoda who didn't bother to change the wording but did at least use a nice picture.
Tut tut... we expected better
We were expecting much more from some of the world's favourite and best-loved manufacturers (we're looking at you, Toyota, Mercedes and Lamborghini).
Porsche cleverley get round having a 404 page by redirecting you to the homepage, but the majority just use the standard "sorry, this page doesn't exist" or "page not found", like Land Rover, Citroën and Vauxhall.
Even Tesla have not really bothered with their error page, which is strange given their status as a forward-thinking tech company with the world at their feet.
Which is your favourite?
We hope you've enjoyed this geeky, nerdy tour through the world of car manufacturer 404 error pages.
It's plain to see how a little bit of creativity and design flair can influence the customer journey. This is something we're very big on at Car Store - we're the first mainstream UK brand to launch a platform that allows you to search for, find, order and pay for a used car, entirely online.