Drivers can be a picky bunch. It’s likely that fuzzy dice and sheepskin seat covers won’t cut it this (or any) year, so take some direction from us this holiday season. Car or motorcycle guys tend to appreciate things that enhance the experience or provide a bit of insight into the hobby/obsession. And you have no excuse to be stingy. He’s given you rides in his vintage roadster, and he even bought you some driving gloves for your Camry SE in hopes of steering you toward a more legitimate ride someday. It’s time you ponied up for something he’ll appreciate. Of course, you can still stuff his stocking with a box of synthetic 5W30.
Porsche 911: 50 Years
The next best thing to driving is watching it done well. A close third is reading about it and, very possibly, sipping something with a high ABV. Best-selling author Randy Leffingwell might be able to help you with the first piece of that gift with his stunning Porsche 911: 50 Years. Equal parts history and car pornography, the book covers every 911 model ever made, including the 901 prototype, the history-making 959 supercar and the current and beautiful 991; it even goes in-depth on the personalities behind the Deutsch beast. If he ever is able to put one in the driveway, you’ll have earned yourself at least a few joyrides.
Anki DRIVE Starter Kit
There’s no doubt that the driver buddy in your life enjoyed the thrill of slot cars when he was a kid. Anki DRIVE takes slot car racing way into the 21st Century with the kind of mini-racing interaction your Speed Racer action figure would envy. Each futuristic slot car is really a smart car that can be controlled via iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or iPad Mini. The other cars racing against you make use of artificial intelligence, and each car is aware of the others’ position and acts independently in response to its competitors. They even use weapons to their advantage. The more you drive, the smarter the car gets, adapting to your style and that of the other cars. But it doesn’t stop there. You can earn points to acquire better weapons and boost car performance. And because the roll-out mat track is portable, it’s perfect for visiting favorite nephews, grandsons or just immature drinking buddies.
Thule Sonic Alpine Roof Box
Just about every car guy loves to road trip, as long as it’s not in a Family Truckster. He’s got to carry cargo if he’s going anywhere longer than a day, but he surely doesn’t want to obscure visibility by piling his goods high the back seat, nor does he want some wind-blocking vault on his roof. The Thule Sonic Alpine is not only aerodynamic thanks to its AeroNose, it’s damned good looking, complementing your car instead of making it look six feet taller. Plus, you can load it from either side of the car, and the angled base provides ample clearance for raising hoods and opening hatches. Most importantly, he’ll appreciate the fact that his better half’s gaudy vacation souvenir purchases will stay out of sight for most of the trip.
Recaro ProRIDE Convertible Baby Seat
Your driver friend has to deal with his kid spilling every perishable good known to mankind on his car’s rich leather upholstery — the least you can do is get the little tyke a car seat that’s worthy. Recaro knows a thing or two about car seats, having put them in some of the best cars in the world. Way more importantly, the Proride utilizes Recaro’s Side Impact Protection to safely guard a child’s five vulnerable areas in a side impact: head, neck, torso and pelvis. Plus, the kid will love the CoolMesh air ventilation system, and Dad will appreciate the fact that the seat does double duty for rear- and front-facing situations. Too bad it doesn’t come with its own steering wheel.
Good things — and that certainly includes motorcycles — really do come in small packages. Okay, so the Grom’s 125cc engine is no powerhouse, and it looks like a naked bike that’s been thrown in the dryer for a week. But it’s practical and nimble and will even take on two passengers, if you and your buddy don’t care about looking like circus clowns. What it can do well is dart through traffic (not highway traffic) and make easy work of quick trips. The great gas mileage (100 miles or so on one 1.5-gallon tank) and low price also make it some seriously affordable fun.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans Tickets
For a car and racing lover, 24 Hours of Le Mans is an automotive Mecca. The speed, the noise, the pomp, the circumstance: it all comes together every summer in France during the world’s most grueling auto race. You’ll come away not just hard of hearing, but a changed man; seeing and hearing man and refined machine scorch through lap after lap is both awesome and inspiring. Of course there’s airfare to consider, but picture you and The Driver giggling like schoolgirls at the heart of a festival of speed and endurance…yup, it’s worth it.
Automatic Smart Driving Assistant
For everything a driver ever really needed to know about his car, Automatic for iOS is an OBDII (On-Board Diagnostics II) dream come true. Using the iPhone and Automatic’s Link connector, car data shows up right on the phone and acts like an engineer to identify a car’s performance, fuel economy and potential problems. The Link accessory plugs right into the OBDII port, and Bluetooth makes the connection whenever the driver gets behind the wheel. Automatic provides driving tips to save gas, identifies “check engine” issues, locates where your car is parked and contacts emergency services if you can’t do it yourself after an accident. That’s one hell of a gift, if you should say so yourself.
Tim Layzell Illustrations and Posters
Car art is typically tacky. That tailpipe coat rack might be functional, but it’s ugly as all get out. Tim Layzell’s work is catching like wildfire in the car community; you’ll see his talent shown off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Pebble Beach and Silverstone, just to name a few. His colorful works of vintage Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars are second to none — which is why he’s considered one of the world’s foremost automotive artists. It’s not the kind of gift your friend will soon forget, or hang in his garage.
Cobra Electronics iRAD 900 iRadar Atom
The Cobra iRadar Atom is a prime example of just how far Radar detectors have come; now, they’re crowd-sourcing. The iRadar uses the cloud to transmit a triggered detector’s signal and display it on your smart phone’s map as a threat area. Everyone with an iRadar detector is part of that contributing community. How’s that for making nice with other drivers? All community members can also warn of speed cameras, throwing another wrench into the cog of Big Brother. He may keep his license points in single digits for the first time in a long time.
Forza Motorsport 5
Just because your buddy will probably never own a supercar doesn’t mean he can’t drive one…in the comfort of his barcalounger. Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One is an utterly gorgeous game, and its Drivatar system provides perhaps the best AI competition in any racing game ever. With the choice of 14 tracks and 200 cars from 50 manufacturers, including the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the McLaren P1 and the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, you’ll have trouble peeling him off the controls just to grab a bite to eat. Each month for twelve months 10 more cars will be released as downloadable content and more circuits will be available, as well. You might want to throw in a pack of adult diapers.
Pendleton Motor Robe
If your driver friend happens to have a vintage ride along the lines of an Austin Healy MkIII, he can’t just have his raggedy fleece fraternity throw in the trunk for romantic picnics with the wife. Get him a blanket that’s as classy as his car. Inspired by steamer rugs from a bygone era, the USA-made Pendleton Motor Robe is 100 percent virgin wool, softened for comfort. The leather carrier and shoulder strap add that extra level of sophistication. Just don’t let him wear his matching driving cap.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Car Care Kit
Spit and a rag just won’t cut it when it comes to spiffing up a car lover’s baby. He needs polish and protection. Meguiar’s makes some of the best car care products around, and the Ultimate Kit has just about all of ’em. Everything he needs to clean, protect and preserve his car’s paint is here, including a vast array of solutions and waxes, wash mitts, applicators and microfiber towels. You might also want to offer him your encouragement as you smoke a stogie and polish off a cold brew as he slaves away.