Porsche WorldTimer P6750 watch
Porsche WorldTimer P6750 watch. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

Car fanatics always have their eye on what they want next, whether it’s a new car or a new toy for an old car. Thing is, if your favourite gearhead is anything like us here at Autos, they’ve already gone out and bought what they want by the time it’s time to start thinking of Christmas gift ideas.

In other words, we know your pain, because we’re usually the ones making your lives difficult. To that end, here are a few suggestions, grouped according to cost, that we hope will make your Christmas season a little less stressful (but not necessarily less expensive).

Under $50

If you’re after a purely practical gift, try a set of Tire Totes, a more permanent replacement for the large plastic bags auto and tire repair centres often wrap your winter/summer tires in when you’ve had them swapped out at season’s end. The nylon Tire Tote is a much tidier solution to carrying and storing tires. Check James Bergeron’s review of this product here. This is an affordable gift too; a set of four costs about $40.

Tire Totes
Tire Totes; photo by James Bergeron. Click image to enlarge

For the new driver, or first-time car owner, why not keep it simple: assemble an essentials kit, with useful stuff like a tire pressure gauge, and first aid and roadside emergency kits. Auto parts stores, and many department stores, sell ready-to-gift kits, but you could easily assemble and personalize your own.

Branded baubles like keychains make good gift ideas. BMW sells a number of them through their Canadian online shop, with prices ranging from about $30 to more than $300. Many car dealerships sell branded merchandise like hats, jackets, scale models of their vehicles, as well as smaller stuff like the keychains mentioned above.

Under $100

For the driver who likes high-tech gadgets, try a portable navigation system, a satellite radio receiver or Bluetooth wireless cellular phone accessories.

BlueAnt Supertooth 3
TomTom Go 910 with remote control
BlueAnt Supertooth 3 (top; photo by Frank Rizutti); TomTom Go 910 with remote control; photo by Russell Purcell. Click image to enlarge

Bluetooth wireless communication devices, like these ones reviewed recently by Frank Rizzuti, are a great idea, especially for the driver with a lot on the go. These range widely in price, but there are units out there for well under $100, particularly if you take advantage of holiday sales.

Satellite radio kits from Sirius and XM include everything necessary for in-car use and start well under $100, (plus the monthly subscription fee, which is usually in the area of $15).

For a wide range of collectible car stuff, have a look at an automobilia store like Wilkinson’s Automobilia. Check out this 1:43 scale 1974 BMW 2002 Tii, which retails for $33.95; the store has a wide range of scale models for sale, with many starting under $100. And if you know someone who appreciates old automotive advertising and promotional materials, this would be a good place to look.

Under $200

Does someone in your family participate in club racing events? A pair of good driving shoes would be a great gift idea. These ones, by Piloti, retail for $125 USD on the company’s website. There are models available for less than $100 USD, while others sell for closer to $200. Piloti is an American company, but they have a few distributors in Canada, a list of which you can see here.

Portable GPS navigation devices are still relatively pricey, but Magellan makes an entry-level model that I found for $159 at a popular Canadian electronics retailer. If you’ve got a little more cash to spend, check out the three recent TomTom models that contributor Russell Purcell reviewed in June 2008. Garmin is the other well-known name in portable navigation devices.

WeatherTech Pet Tent
WeatherTech Pet Tent (dog not included, sadly). Click image to enlarge

For the car enthusiast who loves to take their pets with them on the road, WeatherTech makes the nice-looking Pet Tent. It comes in three sizes (small, medium and extra-large; a large model was recently discontinued), with prices starting at $119 for the small, cat- or Chihuahua-sized model. WeatherTech also sells a wide variety of automotive accessories, many of which are custom-designed for a wide variety of vehicles.

One of the most frustrating situations for a DIY car or truck owners is the check engine light, that warning sign that something is amiss with a car’s complicated electronic emissions control system. For less than $200, you could buy your favourite car buff an OBDII (on-board diagnostics 2, used in 1996-and-newer vechicles) trouble code reader; these are available at popular auto parts retailers. See further down in the “cost no object” section for a pricier, but more entertaining, version of this tool.

The Sky’s the Limit

It may not have a car manufacturer’s logo on it, but the new Saeco Talea line of coffee/expresso was designed by BMW Designworks USA. One example is the Giro Deluxe model, which retails for about $1,300.

From Porsche Design come three products that will appeal to many, but will find their way under a select few Christmas trees this year. There’s a $540 pair of sunglasses that take their inspiration from a pair first sold in 1978.

Porsche Rosegolf cufflinks
Porsche Rosegolf cufflinks. Click image to enlarge

The 18-carat rose gold cufflinks (inlaid with fine onyx and crystals, and “painstakingly polished by hand”) would be a wonderful addition to any discerning man’s wardrobe. Any guy who gets these as a gift had better appreciate them – they cost $7,230.

Then there’s the Worldtimer watch, from the Porsche Design Dashboard series. The Worldtimer line is designed for frequent travellers, with a simple mechanism for switching between different time zones.

This year, the Worldtimer is available with a rose gold case and bezel, which contrasts nicely with the watch’s modern face. This is a truly beautiful piece, but “watch” out for the price tag: this one retails for $27,200 (and because we know you’re asking yourself this, yes, you could easily buy a used Boxster for that kind of money).

A U.S. company called DrewTech offers a product called the DashDAQ, which combines the utility of an OBDII diagnostic tool with the ability to gather real-time information about how your car is performing. It also lets you monitor fuel consumption – a nice bonus in these uncertain economic times. The basic DashDAQ normally retails for $695 USD through Drewtech’s website; add $200 for a unit that includes a navigation function.

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