by Jim Kerr

It’s that time of year again when most drivers are busy avoiding busy Christmas traffic and trying to do a little shopping too. If you are a car or truck enthusiast, here are some Christmas gift suggestions you can conveniently place for others to see. If you are buying for an enthusiast, this should make shopping a lot less hectic.

Any car enthusiast will appreciate a car cleaning kit. There are assembled ones already for sale, but you can put together one yourself. Start with a plastic pail, add a sponge, a wash mitt and a chamois. Top with a decorative ribbon and you have a gift that will be well used. A bottle of car wash soap, tire dressing and a bottle brush (for cleaning inside wheels) can be added if desired.

Stop by any dealership and you will find accessories on display in a wide price range. Maybe you can’t afford those custom alloy wheels, but key chains, coffee cups, t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets are also available with their favourite vehicle logo on them.

Buying tools for the enthusiast that likes to work on their vehicle is difficult. Maybe they really would like that 17 mm swivel head socket, but unless they ask specifically for a tool, you are better off choosing something you can be sure they don’t have. How about a fluorescent trouble light? There is never enough light when working under the hood or dash and a fluorescent light doesn’t burn the carpet or their arms. It also provides a lot of light, making it easier to work. If they already have a trouble light, they will still appreciate a small good quality flashlight like Maglite or one of the new LED type lights. Bend-a-Light makes one that has a long flexible end perfect for seeing in tight places.

Other handy tools include a cordless screwdriver, a digital tire pressure gauge or even a floor jack if they work under the vehicle. I recommend a pair of safety stands with every floor jack because a car supported by a jack alone is dangerous. Fender covers are another good choice. You can even buy them with the vehicle logo on them!

Maybe you’re buying for someone who doesn’t work on their vehicle but still appreciates it. A framed picture of their dream car or a metal sign for “their car” Parking Only are neat gifts. Model cars are neat too. Find a Matchbox model of their favourite car for that special little touch, or perhaps a plastic or metal car kit. Assembling model kits is a fun past time and they can even customize them the way they would like a real car to be. Cool pre-assembled models are available too. I have a collection on display in my rec room and still have room for many more.

Remote starters and security systems are often popular gifts at Christmas, but both can be difficult to install. Some shops will install them for an additional cost but check with a dealership for your brand of vehicle first. There are poor quality systems out there that can cause trouble with your car later. I would ask the advice of the technicians that have to repair cars for a living before buying.

Books and automotive magazine subscriptions are good gifts too. There are many model-specific or classic car coffee table books for sale. For those interested in racing, there are books on Formula One, drag racing and stock car racing. I was looking at a book called Cannonball (hint, hint Dear). Garry Sowerby, a Canadian author and around-the-world record holder has a new book chronicling his adventures named Sowerby’s Road. It makes for interesting reading.

Music for the road makes journeys go better. So do a pair of driving sunglasses. Sports car owners might appreciate some driving gloves too. Most enthusiasts will appreciate a car movie. Classics like Grand Prix or Two Lane Blacktop, or newer movies like Speed or Driven have scenes in them that will be watched over and over again. Ask at the video store.

Of course there is always the ultimate gift for an enthusiast – their dream vehicle in the driveway with a big ribbon around it. Most of us can’t afford that one, but we can still dream. Maybe a red Viper convertible with gold ribbon, or a silver Mercedes Gull Wing with blue ribbon. Hmmm – too many choices. I can’t make up my mind.

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