Christmas Gift Ideas for the Car Nut

Need a gift for that hard to buy for car enthusiast? This article guides you through some Christmas present ideas for the motoring junky.

They have the wrenches and the grease guns, the hubcap from their first automotive love and enough car books to fill a whole Chapters store. So, every time a birthday or Christmas rolls around you endlessly trawl through a Canadian Tire or Napa looking for that elusive gift that you think will light up their faces after unwrapping.

Where is that holy grail of car stuff that will fill a void in their lives, at least for a few days? All the while they’re hoping you skip by the Tasmanian Devil car mats and leopard print seat covers which unknown to them are a close second choice.

But, gift hunting for the car nut doesn’t have to be so excruciating. A lot of cars themselves ooze coolness and are draped in some of the most high tech gadgetry you’ll probably come across this side of an iPhone. Trust me; if you can just get past the air freshener and chamois aisle you’ll discover there are some pretty great gadgets out there to impress even the most ardent car obsessive.

Luxury Care Hire

Give him the gift of a lifetime by hiring him a luxury car for a week! It probably is not as expensive as you may think – you can check out the prices here: http://www.rapyalluxurytravel.co.uk.

GM Smartphone App

We’re talking about technology so why don’t we look at something which is very in vogue right now, the world of the app. You can log onto any of the Android, RIM or iPhone stores and type in the word car only to be inundated with literally thousands of tantalizing search results from the downright useful mpg calculators, car buying guides and GPS systems to some really bizarre niche apps. How about a Rolls Royce Ghost Configurator anyone?

I thought I’d focus on one particular app that caught my eye from a company you wouldn’t normally associate with innovation, GM. If you own a Chevrolet, Buick or GMC you can download this free app that works with most recent model vehicles in their range. It doesn’t physically interface with your vehicle in the same way that their other related app (OnStar MyLink) does by doing clever stuff such as remote start and checking the gas level but it is a credible effort by GM to engage with those customers that see this kind of technology as a real ISP.

There are a few standard features included which borrow heavily from other standalone products like being able to keep tabs on your parking meter and a GPS tracker helping you to find your car in a snowy airport parking lot.

What sets this apart though are the touches that make it unique to your Buick, Cadillac or Chevy. Instead of fumbling around for that hefty manual, how about being able to take a picture of your car’s VIN number only for it to bring up the manual of your car for reference? It also lets you book services, find a local dealer and even call for roadside assistance when you’re in a jam. The only drawbacks are that it is only available for later model vehicles and some features do require an OnStar subscription, but hey, it’s free.

Garmin Nuvi 3790T

Okay, this one’s a bit predictable and if you’re the kind of person reading this then chances are a new GPS system is probably one of the last things you need to get that car geek as they’ve already had one for about ten years. But wait, things are changing. Have you ever wondered how Apple is able to put a phone, GPS, touch screen computer and an MP3 player into something that is half the size of your average route finder? No? Well the guys over at Garmin have and they’ve come up with the Nuvi 3790T.

This new device apes the look of touch screen Smartphones to such an extent that it’ll have you picking it up to make phone calls rather than planning a route to that new Timmies for a double double. As slim as an iPhone 4 with a crystal clear, hi res display, glass touch screen enabling pinched zoom and accurate typing it suddenly makes old systems look as out of date as a paper map.

Simple to use with Bluetooth connectivity letting you use it as a wireless hands free with voice dialing for your phone and the ability to rotate it into landscape and portrait modes. This is the next generation of navigation device for your car. At around $450 it puts it at the high end of GPS gadgets but for those loved ones that want the latest and greatest and have a habit of getting lost there is simply no option.

Acer Ferrari One

Ferrari have often been criticized for their selfless promotion of all things red and yellow, where you used to see it emblazoned on the nose of such classics as the 250 GTO and F40 you can now see it on everything from a teddy bear to a bath robe. However, despite the criticism there are still some genuinely desirable gear that you can buy from Ferrari that doesn’t come with a V8, a steering wheel and a six figure price tag.

Enter the Acer Ferrari One Notebook, as product tie ins go it does have some legitimate sporting credentials as Acer have been official sponsors of the Ferrari Scuderia F1 team since 2003. I won’t go into the details on the technology but it is certainly comparable to other mid-range laptops that are on the market and not bad for $599 (is that price a coincidence?). But it’s the aesthetic details that will excite lovers of Italy’s most famous car brand.

You can have it in any color as long as it’s (can you guess?) fire engine red and just so you know where your extra money has gone – it comes complete with a nice big Ferrari prancing horse logo on the front. I assume this is to let everyone else in the coffee shop think you’ve just stepped off the Ferrari pitwall to grab a quick latte and check your Facebook account.

The details don’t end there, once you open the thing up to start driving it you’re greeted by a cool carbon fiber look veneer all over the casing and possibly less useful is some preloaded software with screensavers, links to the Ferrari site and not much else.

In the days of effeminate Apple minimalism this laptop pays no concession to subtlety or cool tech, it’s pretty in your face and is like comparing Ferrari’s 599XX to Toyota’s Prius. But as a car nut I have to confess, I want one so bad. Maybe while I’m ordering from the Ferrari store I might just buy a Ferrari key ring to go on my Ferrari jump drive and next time I see a girl sitting alone I can throw these on the bar and genuinely say, “yep, this key belongs to my Ferrari, wanna join me for a spin?”

Tag Heuer Monaco

In terms of famous brands that don’t actually make cars but are somehow associated with them, in particular motorsport, none are more entwined or iconic than those of the watchmakers. Iconic names such as Omega Speedmaster, Rolex Daytona, Chopard and Breitling are all memorable in their own right but for me none more so than the Tag Heuer Monaco.

For most people it will always be remembered for its cameo appearance on the wrist of that other icon, Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans. As a piece of cool design this watch needs no help from Hollywood. Whether you love it’s retro white on black face and it’s unmistakable square case or you marvel at the accuracy of its Caliber 12 Automatic Chronograph knowing full well that should you decide to go for a dip off the St Tropez coast this chunk of watch nostalgia will keep on ticking and make sure you’re back to the casino in time for cocktails.

Tag make several versions of the Monaco but their current model which stays faithful to the original has to be the pick of the crop. For a new watch you’re looking at north of $3,000 and more for an original, but in the context of desirable watches this seems to me like an absolute bargain. Not too big, not too blingy it has enough cache to be worn with a suit and robust enough to be used while playing squash. It may not shout about its pedigree like some other watches but from those in the know a respectful nod from another aficionado will surely be reward enough.

Automoblox

The older I get the more I realize that my dreams of becoming a racing driver and car designer are probably going to go unfulfilled. However, with Automoblox I can at least fantasize that I am somehow creating a new breed of car without any talent for artistry or engineering. These unique toys have been around for a few years but have really started gathering notoriety just recently.

As you open the box you are confronted with a few wooden blocks, some colored Perspex shapes and some wheels which when combined can create the car of your dreams. First you build the chassis out of three of the blocks. Each end can be different so you can have a sloping front end to create the next Lambo or a chunky upright face to make a pickup. Why not add on a bit of both and make the first Lamborghini pickup? On top of the chassis you can add a multitude of different glasshouses and a set of (always oversized like any concept car’s) wheels to complete your desired look.

I should say that this isn’t Lego and a fully functioning car can be constructed in a matter of minutes. Although the age range is aimed at anyone from aged three and up, I think it can bring out the kid in any of us and they are so well deigned they could quite comfortably sit on any executive desk, just don’t expect to get any work done.

You can buy the standard size for around $30 per vehicle and they come in almost every body style from sports cars to SUVs. The beauty of these is that the more you buy the more crazy iterations you can make as all the parts are interchangeable; there is even an online parts store to further customize your creations if you so wish. This is one of those great gifts that adults will enjoy just as much as kids and will keep them both entertained for hours.