There are, depending on when you’re reading this, less than 10 days left until the fat bloke in red rocks up at your house to bring you that lump of coal you deserve for this year’s misdeeds and mayhem. That means less than 10 days to come up with the right gift for your automotive nutcase of a son/daughter/father/mother/girl/boyfriend/wife/husband/mistress/… hey, what’s the male equivalent of a mistress?
Point is, buying presents is hard. Deciding what to buy is even harder. So, because it’s Christmas (/xmas/hannukah/pagan tree day), and because we care, here is our holiday gift guide. And by “holiday gift guide” we mean, “here is the contents of all our writers’ letters to Santa that we intercepted.”
Some of you will have modest budgets, focusing instead on the things that matter most at holiday time: getting smashed courtesy of your in-law’s liquor cabinet.
Mastercraft 174-Piece Tool Set
For your writer, the best possible automotive gift under $100 is a tool set. This one is on sale at Canadian Tire for $99.99 right now; which is a screaming bargain. Sure, I’ll never actually use it, and sure, I’ll probably still manage to lose the four items in it that I ever actually do need, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it for me.
Lego Porsche 911 GT Finish Line
If you are “hip to the ‘Go”, as they say, then you probably caught some one-off Lego sets designed by enthusiast Malte Dorowski last year. Basically, they were famous race cars—the Porsche 930 Turbo 3.3, 935/78, and others—done completely using stock Lego pieces. Whether or not it was Dorowski who inspired this year’s McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche Speed Champions cars, they are a sight to behold. And, starting at just $17.99, affordable, too. Of course, if you want to go whole hog, look for the Scuderia Ferrari truck and race car set—all 884 pieces of it—or the Porsche GT Finish Line diorama.
I second that – it’s not Christmas if you don’t find some sort of LEGO under the tree, and this year LEGO has a wide variety of sets for the driving enthusiast, from the Creator Ferrari F40 and Mini Cooper at $120 apiece, but my pick is the Speed Champions Porsche 911 GT Finish Line, which might not have as much detail as the Creator series or as cool an accessory as the F14 T & Scuderia Ferrari Truck, but at least it’s under $100.
History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths and Rumors Revealed
A book by well-known American auto-scribes Preston Lerner and Matt Stone entitled History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths and Rumors Revealed makes for a fun read and good tome for the loo. If you’re wondering about the curse-carrying parts from James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder, what was the first car to break the sound barrier, or who really won the first Indianapolis 500, this is the book to get. $29 at Amazon.ca
Isn’t winter crappy enough without having to look at yucky black steel rims? I bought some snazzy Michelin-brand covers for my GTI’s 16-inch winter wheels at Canadian Tire for about 80 bucks and my mood has improved tremendously.
Car Detailing Kit
Everyone likes a clean car, but you can't get quality results with an old bucket and a bottle of dish soap. Show your favourite driver that, hey, you love their car as much as they do with a professional grade detailing kit like this one from Adam's Premium Car Care.
Alternatively, if your gift-getter has already got a start on the necessary products and equipment but it's all a bit of a mess, then sneak in to their garage, take an inventory of what's there and head to your local automotive retailer to fill in the blanks, whether it be leather condition for the seats or a turbo stick for cleaning alloy wheels. Purchase a nice tote to keep it all in and you'll be a star in their eyes. Products range from $20 and up, and are available at automotive retailers everywhere.
If that special scatterbrained someone on your shopping list is forever losing their keys and/or phone, the Cobra Tag might be the perfect gift. With a USB-rechargeable key fob and smartphone app, the Cobra Tag enables two-way Bluetooth communications between your phone and keys – or anything else you attach the fob to. You can set a separation alarm so that you don't accidentally leave them behind in the first place. If you still manage to misplace your keys, just activate your smartphone app to sound the Cobra Tag's beeper or, if the keys are out of Bluetooth range, to start a GPS based tracker app that identifies where you last had them. If you lose your phone, press the key fob to make the phone ring. Works with iOS 5.0, Android OS2.1 and Blackberry OS 4.5 or higher. Cobra Tag is priced around $90, find a distributor at www.cobratag.com.
A simpler and somewhat less expensive system is Tile, which uses non-rechargeable Bluetooth locator tags that cost around $50 each in Canada and last about a year (replacement tiles are available "at a fraction of the cost"). Available at Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers.
Car Spa Gift Basket
We reviewed a perfect stocking stuffer just a few weeks ago, Optimum No Rinse Soap. Car lovers want to treat their car with the tender loving care they deserve, so why not follow up that stocking stuffer with a gift basket under the tree filled with Edgeless microfiber towels, a microfiber wash mitt, some colonite liquid metal wax, some aquapel glass treatment and some Sonax wheel cleaner? Those are all some of the best products available and you have yourself an amazing gift basket for under $100.
One More Than 10: Singer and the Porsche 911
Singer cars has to be one of the top stories of the year for car enthusiasts. If you want a closer look at these bespoke beauties, but don’t have the six-figure funds required to procure one for yourself, then this could be the ticket. Never before has Singer opened its doors like it does here, to the tune of 100s of full-colour photos and stories penned by some of the great automotive writers and personalities of this generation. Act now; only the first 200 preorders at Singer Vehicle Design are going to get their books by Dec. 25.
The Scent of Performance
Ever wish that the smell of burning rubber wouldn't fade from your Speedhunters t-shirt after you've come home from the track? Your dream can become a reality with this Dragster Burning Rubber 'maximum' scented candle from Triplescented.com. It promises 'no messy clean-up,' which is more than you can say for your last attempt to light 'em up in front of your house.
The Art Of The Perfect Lap
In the winter, chances are you don't get to the track as often as you'd like - unless you're the guy they tap to blow all the snow off the apexes. Instead of gazing outside at the depressing winter landscape, why not direct your attention to a beautiful wood carving of your favourite world circuit courtesy of Track Sculptures, mounted right on your wall? For $99.99 you can hang Ascari, the Nurburgring, or Laguna Seca in a place of honour in your own home and mentally practice that perfect lap until the spring thaw sets in.
Let’s say you got yourself a Christmas bonus this year, and want to splurge a little on your loved one. Or maybe your favourite in-law is really demanding. So you up the ante a little.
For me, if you’re going to spend $1,000 you may as well hit up the motorcycle page on autoTRADER.ca and find me a project bike to buy. Used motorcycles under $1,000 abound. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Find one that runs – bingo, your auto nut gets a motorbike to ride! Find one that doesn’t? It’s like an adult Lego set for them to play with in the garage all winter. Me? I’ll take this Triumph Speed Triple. #winning.
Porsche Kitchen Knives
When you can’t be out on the road carving corners in a Boxster Spyder, you can at least be slicing and dicing with a Porsche that’s just as sharp. Porsche Design’s line of kitchen knives by Chroma are as modern as they come, and a standard 8-inch chef’s knife is a kitchen standard for any cooking enthusiast.
Forza Motorsport 6 Edition Xbox One console
On the surface, this special edition Xbox One console may seem like little more than a fancy paintjob, there’s more to it than that. Yes, the paint’s cool (coloured to reflect the launch colour of the 2017 Ford GT supercar), but the controller’s been given a once-over, too, with added grips and colour. In addition to being a top spec 1 TB version of the Xbox One, there’s also custom sounds on disk eject and power off/on. Oh, and a full version of Forza Motorsport 6 comes as part of the package.
If your favourite gearhead doesn't already have an OBD reader, this invaluable diagnostic tool is just the thing to get them plugged into their inner mechanic and whispering wisely to their car. Whether you're wanting to diagnose a check-engine light in your own vehicle or reveal hidden problems in a used car you're looking at, a compatible OBD reader can perform a basic emissions check, show all the relevant Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs), show the distance travelled with the engine Malfunction Light activated, indicate how many start-ups since the DTCs were cleared, reset the check engine light, and even confirm whether the car's physical VIN matches the VIN stored in the onboard computer. Cars built prior to about 1996 use OBD I and cars built after that use OBD II, but higher-end readers like the Innova CanOBD 2-in-1 are able to communicate with both types of systems. Priced around $320, the Innova 2-in-1 is available at Canadian Tire and other automotive retailers
Mojio and Garageio In-Car Garage Gadgets
Do you have a certifiable gadget geek on your Christmas wish list? As one such gadget geek, I’ve got a list of items worth your consideration for gift purposes this holiday season. As a car guy and great big nerd who spends money on techy goodies as a hobby, I’d love to receive any of the items below as a gift this Christmas, and the geek on your list will, too.
Your gadget geek can now use the power of the internet to control their garage door opener with ease thanks to Garageio. A Wi-Fi enabled black box is installed, and can activate the garage door from anywhere. Up to three doors can be controlled with a single unit. Alerts can be provided if the door is opened, reminders can be sent if its left open, and users can check and control the status of their garage door from anywhere they’d like. You can even ditch the fussy code-panel mounted outside of your garage.
Add Mojio and you have the ultimate gadget geek gift! This OBD-connected module plugs into the users car, and has hundreds of uses. At its simplest, Mojio knows things like when your ignition is on or off, where your car is, and the charge state of its battery. Using IFTTT, Mojio and Garageio, drivers can set recipes to automatically mute their cell-phone ringer, turn on Bluetooth, and open their garage door when they start their car, or to close the garage door when the ignition is switched off, or even to send an email when a diagnostic trouble code is detected. Other recipes can be created easily, sending the user a text whenever someone starts the vehicle’s engine. Mojio is about $120 CAD, Garageio about $180.
Piloti Driving Shoes
There’s nothing like a good pair of driving shoes to make you think you’re… well, a better driver. Available at drivinggear.ca, legendary maker Piloti has a stylish line of street and driving shoes starting at $150. The all leather Prototipo GT (comes with black and red laces) at $170 is my pick. If you need the real deal, the Nomex-lined Competizione at $240 says “I mean business”.
The Gift of Speed: Lapping/Track Days
Depending on where you live or if you like to travel there are plenty of options out there for the “Gift of Speed”, we are talking about a gift certificate or purchase of a lapping or driving experience for your car lover to get a real thrill out on a race track. If you are in the Ottawa area, Calabogie Motorsport Park has gift cards and packages starting at just $99. In the Montreal area? iCar offers a variety of different experiences from go-karts to Ferrari’s on track. Track driving a little too much adrenaline? How that’s possible we don’t know… but if it is there are many cities in Canada that offer Exotic car rentals where you and some friends take out a Ferrari or Lamborghini for a day.
The Gift of Speed: Lapping/Track Days, Part 2
If your budget allows it, you can give the experience of a lifetime at racing schools such as the Jim Russell Racing Driver's School at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. Most schools offer lessons ranging all the way from beginner to advanced, so whether your favourite driver is new at the game or an old hand, they'll get a chance to push their limits and learn new skills. And it would only be fair to buy yourself some lessons too so you can provide them with company, right?
Practice Makes Perfect: Drag Racing Practice Trees
It can be expensive - both in terms of tires and ego - to spend every night at the local drag strip honing your skills. Why not save yourself the embarrassment and simply snag a practice tree from Jegs? With several portable kits on offer, ranging in price from $90 all the way up to $1,500 for a full professional six-foot display, you can perfect your reaction times in complete, intense privacy.
Money?! Ha! I wipe my nose with it!
I can hear some of you now. “Pfft! I scoff at your ‘budget’!” Money is no object for you. You care not what something costs. Your loved ones are already spoiled beyond belief, so what would you buy as the ultimate Christmas present?
Epic Road Trip
I have an idea. Christmas is not supposed to be about giving, right? So maybe, the best Christmas present of all is a road trip of epic proportions with your family. Buy yourself a fully loaded RV or Campervan, and embark on an incredible global tour with your nearest and dearest. Spend months, or even years filling your children’s heads with new ideas, and hearts with love for their fellow human. What could be better?
Of course, you could also pick one of these more tangible presents:
2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder
Now in its second generation, the Boxster Spyder represents not only everything that is well and good in the Porsche Boxster world, but in the enthusiast car world, too. It is the purest example of the marque, with no expense spared in the performance department. Performance suspension tuning? Check. Weight-saving fabric door pulls and manual soft top (plus gorgeous clamshell cover and classic Porsche 718 silhouette)? Check. 3.8-litre, 375-hp flat-six engine, shared with the 911 Carrera S? You bet! And — Eureka! — a manual transmission as your only transmission option.
Porsche 911 Reimagined by Singer
This one really doesn’t require much explanation, does it? Dan can keep his book and his Boxster Spyder (I'd keep one of those, too, if I had this kind of budget), I’ll take the real deal.
Customers send a 964 generation Porsche 911 to Singer Vehicle Design, who strip it down, have the engine rebuilt from the block up by racecar engine builders Ed Pink Racing Engines, a body crafted from carbon-fibre by Aria Group, the iconic 911 design massaged by Singer Vehicle Design mastermind Rob Dickinson to accentuate and exaggerate seemingly the best curves and proportions from every generation of 911. The interior is embellished with handcrafted fitment of leather, nickel and other genuine materials that hold true to the original’s look with a slight twist and stunning attention to detail. While an aesthetic masterpiece after Singer’s modification, it also holds true to Porsche’s own ideals of a car meant to be driven, with no expense spared for top suspension and chassis tuning, ready for a spirited drive to work or a day at the track. Yeah, put this one right at the top of my lottery list.