December is upon us and so begins an onslaught of searching, shopping, scanning, surfing and head scratching – all in an effort to find that perfect gift. That perfect thing your friends and family members didn’t even know they wanted, until they open up your present and wonder how they ever lived without it in the first place! But where to start?
If your shopping list includes a car owner or two, and there’s a good chance it does, there are plenty of great gift ideas that are time-saving, convenient or just plain fun – the kinds of items people rarely splurge on for themselves but which make the perfect gift for others!
And if your gift recipient is a veritable car enthusiast? Even better! With a few ideas to shoot you in the right direction, you’ll find there’s a gold mine of gifts for people who are serious about their vehicles!
Gifts for the Average Car Owner
GPS: A GPS is a great gift idea for anyone who doesn’t have one already, ranging in price from under $50 to over $1000. But for the average driver, a Garmin nüvi 2557 LMT is a great choice – currently just $124.95 on sale at FactoryOutletStore.com and offering lifetime maps and traffic. Also available at many retail outlets where electronics are sold.
Smartphone Mount/Holder: Don’t text and drive, of course, but a quality mount is a great gift for anyone who uses smartphone navigation for driving directions. The iOttie is compatible with many popular phones and is a Best Seller on Amazon that retails for just $19.99.
Bluetooth Car Kit: Driving is best done distraction free, but if you’re going to use your phone in the car, it’s best to at least be hands free. Bluetooth hands-free car kits are available in the range of $20-$70 and plug right into your aux-in port. The Wirecutter likes the iClever Himbox HB01 for its superb audio quality and mic performance.
Ice Scraper: Everyone needs an ice scraper, but if your gift recipient is of the “go big or go home” mentality, you may want to consider something more than your garden variety blade. The Thor not only has a cool name, it is an expandable double-blade titan of the ice scraper world and comes from Quirky, a site designed to help independent inventors market their ideas. Currently available from BirchBox for $21.99. Also consider the Zeus, a snow shovel and brush set sold at Amazon for $28.47.
Emergency Car Kit: It’s always good to be prepared, and an emergency kit for your vehicle is a good idea for everyone. AAA offers a variety of options on Amazon, ranging in price from $24.90-$89.95. Or create your own! For tips on a DIY version, check out our other blog on Winterizing Your Vehicle.
Jump Starter: Jumper cables are great – if you’ve got a buddy willing to bring his car to you. A jump box can be kept in your trunk for emergencies, and costs start at around $50. The Service Department here at Hershey Motors uses the Booster Pac brand, and the ES 2500 is available from Amazon for $114.79. Just make sure you get one powerful enough for the vehicle it’s meant for – bigger trucks require more amps!
Remote Start System: Warming up the car before you get in it is a benefit for anyone living in a cold weather climate. If your car didn’t come with a remote starter, you can add one with a kit. According to Car Audio Now, the top remote starter is the Viper LC3 4706V which lists for around $183.97 on Amazon. #4, however, is the Avital 4103LX, which is currently on Amazon for only $45.63.
Winter Tires: Unless you know a person really well, you’re probably not buying them a set of winter tires for Christmas. But according to Consumer Reports, winter tires offer approximately 40% more traction in snow and 15% more traction on ice than all-weather tires. So for that hard-to-buy for member of your immediate family, it’s worth considering! Check out our blog on Winterizing Your Vehicle for more info, or call the Hershey Motors Service Department to set up an appointment at 610-857-5283.
Portable Air Compressor: Not a bad thing to have with you if your tire goes flat – plugs right into your cigarette lighter! Tools Reviewer gives the Kensun AC Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator the thumbs up as the best overall value. Amazon sells it for just $59.99.
High Road StableMate: Though trash cans aren’t the most exciting gifts to give, having a good one in your vehicle is crucial, especially for families, if you want to protect your car’s interior. High Road makes a variety of different organizers and trash cans that are designed to stay upright in your vehicle. The StableMate Large Car Trash Basket is leak proof, stays in place and includes pockets for napkins and sanitizers. Retails for about $20.00.
Seat Gap Filler: The Drop Stop Seat Gap Filler was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and is designed to block the gap between your seat and center console. You know, that crevice that attracts phones, keys, change, French fries and trash like a black hole? Retails for $19.99 (set of 2) at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
WeatherTech: WeatherTech floor and cargo mats are not your garden variety mats – they’re custom fit to your individual vehicle. For more information and some real-life before and after pics, check out our blog post from a few months ago. Depending on the vehicle you’re buying for, a WeatherTech protection package will run approximately $150-$300.
Car Care Products and Microfiber Towels: Meguiar’s car care products make a great gift for anyone looking to keep their vehicle looking shiny and new long after it’s, well, shiny and new. They offer a variety of products that can be purchased at most auto parts stores, such as Advance Auto Parts. Microfiber towels can be purchased almost anywhere and make great stocking stuffers!
Auto Vacuum: Armor All makes a wet/dry vac that’s designed for car enthusiasts. It’s powerful and light weight, so it’s easy to maneuver around the car with it. Retails for only $33.49 at Target.
Inflatable Car Air Mattress: Ever try to sleep in the back seat of your car? It’s no fun, but sometimes it’s just plain necessary. If you’ve got someone in your life who regularly finds themselves catching Z’s in the car – whether it’s a nurse who has to nap after a long overnight shift, a frequent traveler, or a college student just trying to make it work – this may be the ultimate gift. Options are available through several online retailers – at the Happy Hobo it goes for $89.95. Small price to pay for a good night’s sleep!
Code Reader: The “check engine” light on your vehicle is one of the most confusing alert signals in the world. It means something is wrong with your vehicle, but that “something” can be anything from an improperly tightened gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine. For those who drive old cars, a code reader is a great gift – giving you a little insight into what you’re dealing with before deciding how to proceed. Especially if you’re far from home and not sure if you might do more damage to the car by trying to drive it further. Andy, the service manager here at Hershey Motors, recommends Autel. The AutoLink AL319 is currently selling for only $15.95 on Amazon.
Mechanic’s Tool Set: If you’ve got a young man or young lady in your life looking to begin building a set of tools, a mechanic’s tool kit is a good place to start. Craftsman sells a 258-piece set through Sears for $149.96.
Gifts for Car Lovers
For most of us, cars, trucks and SUVs are a means to an end – and the end is getting to where we need to be. But if someone on your list is a bona fide gearhead or auto enthusiast, these are some great gifts out there you may not even know exist!
Car-Themed Cufflinks: Cufflinks don’t have to be boring! If you love cars, there are a number of options for sprucing up your Sunday best. Consider some vintage car or car gear cufflinks from Etsy or antique car cufflinks from eBay. Or take a look at Cufflinks Depot for options ranging from $45 for gas gauge and speedometer cufflinks to $495 for Ferrari cufflinks (and everything in between!).
Gear Shift Bottle Stopper: If your car enthusiast is also a wine enthusiast, you might consider a Gear Shift Bottle Stopper. Currently on sale at Everything Kitchens for only $12.56.
GTO Wallet: If you’re looking for something truly exquisite, consider a leather wallet from GTO London. It’ll run you between £100 and £265, which is currently around $150-$398 in US dollars, and you’ll have to allow extra time for international shipping, but these wallets are engineered luxuries and are the kind of thoughtful, unique gifts that any car enthusiast is sure to appreciate!
Carroll Shelby Luggage Set: If your loved one drives a Shelby, consider a Luggage Set from Carroll Shelby Merchandise. At $399.99, it’s no small gift for the average shopper, but this 3-piece set is light, strong and durable and sure to bring a smile to any Shelby owner or enthusiast!
Coasters: Car-themed coasters make a great gift for any car lover! Consider the Tire Coaster Set from GenuineHotrod.com for $16.97 or a Vintage 6-Piece Instrument Coaster Set from Shop PBS for only $24.99
Hive Posters: Check out these unique high-quality fine art prints from a New Zealand car enthusiast and graphic designer through Store Envy. Prices are around $25-$30 + shipping and a variety of different cars and designs are offered.
Track Time: Many car lovers would be excited to spend a little time on a real race track. Dover International Speedway offers Driving Experiences and Ride Alongs starting at $129. Or look for deals on e-commerce marketplace sites like Groupon and Living Social for some exceptional bargains!
Driving Gloves/Shoes: For style, sophistication and a better grip on the wheel, consider Bionic Gloves which offers both men’s and women’s driving gloves. For your feet, consider Puma’s Motorsport line, which includes both Ferrari and BMW driving shoes.
Gasket iPhone Case: Consider the ID America Gasket Aluminum Case. Available from Amazon for iPhone 4 or 5 for $9.95 or $19.95.
There are tons of books out there for car owners – from the casual driver to the enthusiast – from Auto Repair for Dummies or Car Hacks and Mods for Dummies, to coffee table books about fast cars, big trucks, muscle cars, etc. But if you’ve got someone on your list with a deep and enduring love of cars and racing, these are some books to consider:
- The Unfair Advantage – about Mark Donohue’s journey through the world of auto racing
- Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans – about Henry Ford II’s scheme to reinvent Ford Motor Company with the help of Lee Iacocca and Carroll Shelby
- The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit – for the Grand Prix enthusiast on your list
- The Art of Racing in the Rain – a novel about a race car driver and his dog, Enzo
- Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog – a kid’s version of the above
- Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise Haynes Manual – for all of those gearhead Trekkies out there!
- Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the Company – At $79.99, this is a book only for the true Packard enthusiast!
- Blood and Smoke: A True Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and the Birth of the Indy 500 – a wild tale for the Indy Car fan
- My Dad Wished He Had One of These – for fathers and sons (or daughters) everywhere
Additionally, you can find rare, vintage out-of-print car books on sites like eBay or at old book stores.
If you’re looking for general car movies with a mass appeal, there are plenty of choices. The Fast and the Furious comes to mind, as do Bullitt, The Cannonball Run, Vanishing Point, Gone in 60 Seconds, Death Race, etc. But if you’re looking for a movie that’s a little further off the beaten path, consider these films that the racing enthusiast in your life is likely to appreciate:
- Love the Beast – labor of love by actor and revhead Eric Bana, with appearances by Jay Leno – this documentary chronicles his lifelong friendship and love affair with The Beast, a Ford GT Falcon Coupe and the first car he ever owned
- Senna – documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 World Championship three times before his death at age 34
- Le Mans – you can’t go wrong with Steve McQueen, and this is arguably his greatest car movie ever
- Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans – just released, this documentary on Steve McQueen is the story of obsession, betrayal and ultimate vindication
- Rush – directed by Ron Howard, this is the true story of the legendary racing rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda
And Don’t Forget About the Kids!
If you’ve got kids in your life showing an interest in cars, these toys offer a little more than the run-0f-the-mill playtime activities.
Theo Klein Interactive Service Station: Though it may be difficult to find these days – it’s out of stock from a lot of retailers – it’s every little gearhead’s dream come true! It’s durable, quality and stimulates the imagination! For now, it’s available through Amazon at $161.50.
Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine: This innovative “toy” contains all the parts and tools you’ll need to assemble a working model. Includes its own Haynes Manual! Great project to work on together! Out of stock through a lot of retailers, but it’s currently available for $143.59 through Sears.com.
Hot Wheels Video Racer: Ever wish your Hot Wheels cars had cameras on them? Me too! These Hot Wheels include a hidden micro camera and you can download video editing software to add sound effects, graphics and music! Only $19.99 at Amazon.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe – 30th Anniversary Edition: It’s an American classic! Just as enjoyable now as it was 30 years ago! Available through Little Tikes for just $54.99.
Disney’s Frozen Mustang: What Frozen fan wouldn’t love their own Frozen Power Wheels Mustang? Available from Toys “R” Us for $284.99.
Power Wheels F-150: Any truck-loving little guy (or gal) will be thrilled to see this Power Wheels model based on the Ford F-150 under the tree this year! Available through Kmart for just $169.99.
Grease Monkey Coveralls: If your little one is too small to really be a part of the fun, you might like dressing him or her up in adorable Grease Monkey Coveralls. Available through Knuckleheads Clothing for $39.99.