Shopping for friends and relatives can be something of a challenge—especially if that person is old enough to have acquired a certain amount of fun/frivolous/indulgent stuff for himself or herself.
Often, when uncertainty creeps into the gift-giving process, it’s common for the gift giver to latch on to the recipient’s hobbies or areas of interest in order to better inform their purchase.
This can go well, but as a “car guy,” I have received a number of truly lousy gifts which I’m quite certain were given with love and earnestness.
I include among those lousy gifts an unlicensed crystal Ferrari Testarossa (which actually looks a lot like a Mitsubishi Eclipse), a book called “Scripture for the Car Guy,” and several of our company’s books which I myself had edited.
If you’re shopping for a car guy, I’d like to make a few suggestions. Presented below are five solid ideas that should help give your search for the perfect gift a little direction. And, if you have any good car-guy gift ideas, let’s hear them—we’ll spread the word.
Cool Flashlight: $25-$150
Car guys are generally gadget guys, so keeping cool gadgets in their cars is a natural. Among the more functional cool things you can stuff into a glovebox is a high-quality, high-tech flashlight.
Sure, you can buy flashlights for $5 per three-pack at Costco, but the pride of ownership related to those is about nil. Plenty of companies now sell super-bright LED flashlights that look and feel like precision military hardware.
One such flashlight is the Maglite ML50LX shown above. Powered by two C-cell batteries, that ML50LX pours out 490 lumens of LED-generated light–almost ten times the light produced by a conventional flashlight. The ML50LX lists for $79.95, but can be found for less at a number of online and brick-and-mortar retailers. You can check out all of Maglite’s cool flashlights here.
Touchless Car Wash Gift Card or Book: $25-$100
Almost everyone enjoys owning a clean car, but car guys can get a little twitchy when it comes down how their rides actually get cleaned. If your would-be gift recipient is serious about keeping his wheels clean, consider giving him a gift card or a book of car-wash vouchers from a local high-quality car wash.
Delta Sonic, a car-wash chain with locations in the Chicago and New York City areas, is a good example of such a place. Delta Sonic offers 3-packs of touchless washes beginning at $23.97, and “Super Kiss” packages (which include a quick cabin detail and vacuum) with packs of five going for $59.95. You can check out all of Delta Sonic’s services here.
Be sure to find a car wash that offers touchless washing. Most car guys balk at using soft-cloth washes, and will flat out refuse to use an old-school spinning-brush-style wash.
Hand Wax and Detail: $40-$200
As a full-time-employed adult car guy, I bemoan the fact that I no longer have the time or energy to personally tend to the cleanliness of the family motor pool. That doesn’t mean I’m not still keen on keeping a clean car–just that I need to find someone else to do the work I once enjoyed doing myself.
If you know a busy car guy with a nice car that he no longer has time to spit-shine himself, consider giving him a gift certificate for a hand wax or whole-vehicle detail job.
Norwood Hand Car Wash, a mom-and-pop car-care facility located near our offices, offers hand wax jobs starting at $39. A complete detail runs $159 for cars, with trucks, crossovers, and SUVs running a little higher. You can check out Norwood Hand Car Wash here.
We recommend a non-chain facility for this kind of work. In our experience, small-business owners simply care a little more about the quality of their work, and will hustle a little harder to make you happy. To find a shop near your “giftee,” simply search online for “car detail,” followed by the zip code of the person you are shopping for.
Classic Car-Guy Movie: $20
The beauty of Blu-ray is that it gives us a reason to buy our favorite movies all over again. And if you’re looking for a car-guy gift, you can’t go wrong by padding their library with classic-car movies in high-definition Blu-ray.
Taste in movies varies from film buff to film buff, but we think that most car guys would appreciate the movies we’re recommending here. And, if you haven’t seen them, consider picking up a copy for yourself.
The Blues Brothers: Plenty of car chases, automotive carnage, and general mayhem
Grand Prix: A legendary racing flick starring James Garner and Eva Marie Saint
Vanishing Point: A cult classic that deserves the sharpness of Blu-ray
Bullitt: Legendary for what is widely understood to be the greatest car-chase scene of all time
Le Mans: Cool vintage racing footage and Steve McQueen—what else do you need?
Collectible Automobile Magazine: $40
Call us biased, since Consumer Guide shares office space and a corporate parent with the staff of Collectible Automobile, but we think CA is America’s best old-car magazine. Over its 30-plus years of publication, this bi-monthly gem has earned countless awards for its in-depth articles, lush photography, and fun photo features of old cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles.
A one-year subscription runs $39.95 and can be ordered with a gift card if so desired. Click here for more subscription information.
Also, if your friend or loved one is interested in a particular vehicle, check out the Collectible Automobile index for past issues with articles and photo shoots related to that car or truck. The complete back-issue index is available here.