Gizmos & Gadgets: Gift Giving Ideas for the Car Crazy

As we approach the holiday season, thoughts turn toward what to get that one “car crazy” soul that seems to be almost impossible satisfy.  The good news is that depending on the person’s level of car craziness – from onlooker to full hands on gearhead, there is something for just about everybody.  While there is NO WAY I could begin to cover the universe of possibilities in even a series of features, I want to offer a gift givers a “gentle nudge” in the direction of what you might be able to consider – depending on the desires of that special one or ones in your life.

I have divided the potential gift scenarios by category in an attempt to provide a general overview of what is possible.  The goal here is to suggest a few general ideas of what to do and where to go during your gift buying.

Performance GiftsOf all the categories here, this would be the most expensive.  This would be for the gearhead in the midst of a vehicle performance upgrade project.  Typically you would be working from a “wish list” of parts and equipment from the potential gift recipient.  This may also include specific tools that they are seeking.  Usually the parts department of a local vehicle dealership of the make being worked on, and/or the website of a specialty tool manufacturer would be the best place to go.  There are also specific websites for the specific performance equipment being searched for.  A word of warning, because this is easily the most expensive category, you want to beware of return policies before the purchase, either in person or online.  Specialty parts usually also carry a restocking fee should they be returned for any reason.  Caution is the watchword here.

Project Restoration GiftsThis ranks right up there with #1 in terms of expense.  However this category has the added twist of the purchase of one-of-a-kind parts, trim and equipment.  Usually, if you are buying for one who is in the midst of a vehicle restoration project, they have VERY SPECIFIC wants and needs.  Again, communication here is key, especially if the parts in question are not returnable or easily found.

Cosmetic upgrades – Perhaps your car crazy favorite wants to just jazz up the ride in a “Pimp My Ride” sort of way.  Again, the local dealership often has access to after-market or factory kits that will dress up that vehicle with class – inside and out – often for not too much.  Also, there are after-market companies that also provide some awesome kits for such a project.

Nameplate Swag – For those who love their Ford, Chevy, Ram or other brand of vehicle, and don’t mind wearing or otherwise displaying it proudly, there is swag.  Everything from clothing to keychains, small vehicle replicas and everything in between, you can satisfy everybody from the casual driver to the hardcore veteran with nameplate swag.

Vintage literature – For those looking for a vintage new vehicle brochure, press kit, magazine and/or factory manual, you can easily find it online.  eBay and Amazon are actually two great places to search for what you are seeking.  With their aggressive shipping policies and customer protection programs, you can usually buy with confidence.

Infotainment upgrades – Depending on the age of the vehicle, your car crazy favorite might want to upgrade to the latest and greatest in sound and infotainment.  This would pertain mainly to vehicles that are more than 10 years old, although there are opportunities for the newer vehicles – especially if they are a competent do-it-yourselfer.

Miscellaneous ideas – While all of the above are good suggestions, being able to find/select/purchase just the right automotive item can be a challenge.  The most obvious solution is to purchase a gift card from a place where they can purchase the items they really want themselves, which helps save on returns, awkwardness and expense.  If your automotive wonder is not so mechanically inclined, you can also consider gifting a trip to an automotive event  such as a car show, museum or some other car-related event.  There are plenty going on all year, many times in your locale.  It takes research and planning, but the payoff would certainly be worth the effort.  HAPPY GIFTING!

Ken Chester, Jr. is President & CEO of Motor News Media Corporation – an automotive news service founded in 1989 as The AutoBuyer Plus Corporation. Featured on numerous television and radio programs, viewers, listeners and readers alike relate to Ken's friendly manner and wealth of information about the many vehicles currently for sale in today's complex automotive marketplace.

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