The blessed season of Christmas is just around the corner, and it's time to start looking for gifts again. If that special person happens to be a car buff, I have some suggestions for you.
Before you head over to the stores, however, it might be wise to find out a little bit about the person for whom you're buying the gift. For example, it helps to know whether your friend, spouse-or whoever-has a passion for racing cars, exotic sports cars or classic cars. Also, is he or she an import car lover, or loyal domestic car follower? So here they are, some gift ideas and where to find them:
Die Cast Miniature Models
These high quality, scaled replicas of various automobiles from around the world are still one of the best automotive gifts to buy. Most range in sizes from 1/43 scale to 1/18 scale, with prices ranging from under $10 to as much as a few hundred dollars for collectors' models.
You can find model replicas of just about anything these days, from the trendy Fiat 500 to the traditional favourites like the Ford Mustang or Porsche 911 for as little as $10 to $15.
These toys can be found at Costco or at your local toy store, but for the best selection head over to Wilkinson's Automobilia- a car buff's dream store (located at 2531 Ontario St. just south of Broadway, telephone 6048736242 or go to automobilia. com). The Wilkinson's store offers one of the most extensive selections of automobile models, books, collectibles and posters. It's great fun just to drop in and look around the store.
My pick from Wilkinson's? The Lamborghini Aventador LP700 in fire orange ($56.95).
If your friend likes to build things, perhaps a plastic model kit might be more appropriate, although it takes time and patience to assemble some of them. While you will find many cheap plastic kits at department stores, it's probably safer to buy them at hobby stores or at Wilkinson's. Google search under "hobby models" and you should be able to find a store near your home or a suitable online retailer.
The kit models range from about $10 all the way up to $300 or more. If you want to encourage creativity, go for the Lego sets and let your friend or kids design their own cars.
Car Care Accessories
Many practical gifts can be found at discount stores, such as Canadian Tire and London Drugs. Portable plug-in car vacuum cleaners, electric polish/buffer machines or rechargeable electric screwdrivers are just some of the examples. Car buffs are happy just receiving auto cleaning kits, which often include car washes and waxes. For best quality, go for genuine carnauba wax. If small is not your style, you can always splurge on an electric pressure washer that does double-duty for the car and the driveway.
Just about every type of book on cars, whether it's on exotic cars or on race cars, can be found at many bookstores. Before you buy a book for your friend or family, however, find out his or her interest first. You don't want to buy a book on Mustangs for a Ferrari fan. As with other gifts, the prices vary from affordable to expensive.
Interesting item from Wilkinson's is French Curves: Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Lago by Mullin Automotive Museum.
With previously unpublished vintage photographs, images and rare archival material, this book pays homage to the marques that represent the streamlined movement era. The Mullin Automotive Museum holds the largest private collection in the world of French automobiles produced between 1902 and 1954.
Advertising and Artwork
A longtime favourite of car fanatics, artwork can be anything from vintage magazine advertising to limited edition lithographic prints. Some of these images have been digitally reproduced on archival paper while others are authentic originals. Imagine how good a collection of European car art or 1930s advertisements would look, neatly framed and hanging on the living room wall.
Starting from as little as $10, you can find these items online at auction websites such as eBay or through search engines like Google. Just type in "automotive art" and you'll be surprised at the number of results and choices that pop up. Of course, you will find many great artwork at Wilkinson's.
When shopping for artwork online, you may want to begin by looking for reputable dealers in your local area so that you can check out the merchandise first-hand. When buying from an eBay seller, verify their feedback and return policy to make sure you feel comfortable buying from a complete stranger through the Internet.
Apparel and Accessories
Are you on a tight budget or simply looking for stocking stuffers? One of the best places to shop for automotive gifts is at the parts department of your local car dealers. Prices are reasonable and although the selection is not always great, you can find popular and often affordable accessories like key chains, umbrellas, calendars, posters, pins, and even T-shirts.
Computer-related car gifts you can consider include various racing and driving software available. These software attempt to mimic the real driving experience through your computer screen, and are priced from about $30. Check out your local computer stores. Of course, if you have to go all the way, you might as well buy a new Xbox or PS3. There are many Apps in iTunes that offer simulated driving experience too (you can always give iTunes gift card).
The Real Thing
If you just can't find anything suitable and you're a big spender, the solution is easy: get a real car for Christmas! OK, this might cause financial hardship, but if you were thinking of buying a car in the new year for your family anyway, you might want to just get the real thing.
Have fun shopping!