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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Car Enthusiast in Your Life

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author photo by Autotrader November 2010

Consider yourself lucky if you have a car enthusiast on your holiday shopping list, since there’s a broad variety of gifts and price ranges to choose from. It’s vital to consider the type of auto fan he or she is, whether a classic car owner, a do-it-yourselfer or motorsports fan.

Here’s five cool ideas. Each will let the recipient enjoy your gift throughout the year.

For the Boy (or Girl) Racer

For someone with a lead foot who fancies racing, how about a performance driving experience on a real track.? The assortment of schools around the country typically teach safe driving skills and race driving techniques that will put a perma-smile on your enthusiast’s face.

Costs vary, depending on the experience. The least expensive we could find is $109 to ride shotgun in a NASCAR-style stock car for three laps at speeds up to 165 miles per hour with a professional instructor at Richard Petty’s school. Costs for getting behind the wheel at Petty’s Driving Experience are higher, starting at $449 for eight laps to $2,599 for 80 laps in a day.

Dale Jarrett’s Racing Adventure offers a similar NASCAR drive or ride along, costing $195 for four laps as a passenger. Getting behind the wheel starts at $435 for six laps and tops out at $3,595 for 80 laps and hour of lap time to more than $3,000 for a two-day program.

The Skip Barber Racing School starts at $699 for an introductory racing program with an hour of lap time. The three-day program costs nearly $4,000, with other pricing in between.

For Techy-Types

If your car nut sits behind a desk more than behind the wheel Four Door Media offers a variety of different car models in a wireless computer mouse. Called Road Mice, the models available include Ford Mustangs and GTs, Chevy Corvettes and Camaros, Dodge Chargers, Vipers and Challengers, even a Lamborghini Murcielago and Jaguar XKR. Each costs $44.95, plus shipping, but free shipping is available by using the coupon code FDMAT100.

For the Budget-Minded

If you’re on a tight budget, a 2011 car calendar from Hemmings Motor News is a good value at $13.95. The company web site has calendars with models from the 50s, or 60s, muscle cars, sports and exotics, or my personal favorite, abandoned cars, which reminds me of my brother’s place. Each calendar lists more than 100 car shows and auction dates, along with notable automotive historical events.

When Budget is no Object

If money is no object, Hammacher Schlemmer’s Desktop V Twin Engine is a gem and a great way for your gear head to let co-workers know they’re passionate about motoring. Simply fill the reservoir with butane to watch this German-made engine with aluminum cylinders and stainless steel exhaust pipes do its thing for about 10 minutes. The price tag is a mere $999.95, so this gift is pure indulgence.

For Pure Utility

A more practical present would be high-performance windshield wipers to keep your beloved car nut (and you as a passenger) safer in inclement weather. Windshield wipers should be changed every six-to-12 months, according to Consumer Reports, which found in a test earlier this year that most brands quickly degrade after six-to-nine months of regular use. The exception was the Rain-X Latitude, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, which was the only brand tested that kept its very good performance through six months of use. The cost ranges from between $12 and $17 per blade, depending on retail outlet. The three other top-rated performers in the test were also among the least expensive, the Valeo 600 Series (about $10-$15 each); the Anco 31 Series ($10 or less); and the Michelin RainForce (about $10).

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Holiday Gift Ideas for the Car Enthusiast in Your Life - Autotrader