Hello gift givers. As car enthusiasts, we genuinely appreciate when the people who love us support our passion whether they understand it or not. We know how difficult it can be to buy for people who not only seem to have everything, but that have a hobby you may not know as much about. ShiftAtlanta is here to help with that. It’s the thought that counts, of course, but no one wants to spend time and money on a gift that misses the mark. We’ve put this gift guide together to bypass all the cliché and over-used gifts to help you select a gift that the car geek in your life will be overjoyed to receive.
Before we get into the meat of the ideas, I’d like to offer a bit of advice.
- Giving a car enthusiast detailing products is akin to giving a woman bath products. Make sure the person you’re giving this to actually enjoys detailing their own car. Personally, I can find much better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, but if the car lover in your life enjoys it, make sure you do some research. Get good stuff and/or unique products that solve a specific problem. If they have a dog, a brush that is designed to remove dog hair from car seats would be helpful but a handheld vacuum that plugs into the cigarette lighter is not (as they are underpowered and do not typically work).
- Don’t assume that if someone is into cars, they’ll be into antique cars, exotic cars or Nascar.
- Every other gift guide out there seems to recommend buying a car fan driving gloves. I have never in my life seen anyone use driving gloves and if I did, I would laugh at them (unless they’re part of a racing suit in a purpose built race car). Hell, many sportsman cars have steering wheels designed for grip and some of them are even heated! Gloves are certainly not necessary. I’m going to put cufflinks in this category as well. Sure, there are some really cool looking car related ones out there but do you honestly know anyone that still wears cufflinks beyond their wedding day?
I hate to lead with a series of “don’ts” but it had to be said. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at some cool stuff that may get the car lover in your life revved up.
If you’re finding it difficult to work up the energy to live your life a quarter mile at a time in the morning, here’s a few high octane beverage choices that might help.
These Coloradans do a fantastic job of clever packaging. I have to think everyone who receives this gift will do the same thing we did: remove the contents, enjoy some awesome coffee and keep the empty containers. If you want to do something super special for the coffee lover in your life, check out the “tools” tab on their site and peruse the impressive race inspired brewing machines and grinders they offer. Truly the F1 of coffee.
Here’s another coffee option from some Bostonian car enthusiasts. People in the Northeastern United States take their coffee very seriously and it shows. I got some of the “race fuel” and was floored (sorry, bad pun). I’ve still got a pound of “drive” that I’m looking forward to. Def would make a winning stocking stuffer for any caffeine addicted adrenaline junkie.
Driving Experiences and Events Tickets
Know someone that wants to drive a Lamborghini, Ferrari or other super cars on a racetrack?
Many of us here at ShiftAtlanta have done the Xtreme Xperience – you can find our review here. You can do it for yourself or purchase the experience as a gift. They usually have 2 dates at Atlanta area tracks. Depending on how much you want to spend, you typically drive 1-3 cars with an instructor around the track. The instructors will advise you depending on your skill level and comfort so it’s great for people that have never driven on a track or someone who does so regularly.
Driveshare by Hagerty
The “go-to” insurer for high performance driving events has a program called Driveshare that functions a little like AirBnB but for badass cars. If your person has dreamed their whole life of getting to experience a certain car, this is the way to do it. There list of cars available is pretty amazing from restored classics to current model exotics and nearly everything in between. I don’t know of any other way you’d have a chance to rent a DeLorean for a day or a 1965 Shelby Mustang GT.
Whether you’ve pulled the trigger in renting your favorite car enthusiast their dream car for a day or two, casual drives are so much fun for car people, we rarely turn down the opportunity for a weekend getaway. No particular plans except for a scenic drive through the mountains? Yes, please. Here’s a link to our “Great Drives” section for some inspiration and help picking locations.
Car Themed Hotels
A really great gift idea for the car enthusiast in your life who likes to travel is a stay at one of the many car themed hotels. Many are often near or have their own car experiences built right in, including offroading, on track experiences or visiting a famous race track.
We’ve got a list of some of the best car theme hotels, but here is a quick highlight of some of our favorites from the list:
The Daytona, Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel – stay across the parking lot from the famous Daytona Speedway.
Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa – Luxury accommodations, including a full spa, plus off roading and a car museum.
Kimpton Overland Hotel, Atlanta – Walk next door to the Porsche Experience Center (PEC). PEC includes on track and offroad experiences, the only place in the country where you can find Porsche, Porsche Design and Porsche classic gear in a single place, a Porsche museum and simulators. Plus food and so much more.
Clothing, Accessories and Memorabilia
Got a Formula 1, Indycar, World Rally or Moto GP fan to buy for? Here’s a great site packed full of options, efficiently categorized for easy perusing. You’ll find real deal racing memorabilia, clothing, swag and fun (and inexpensive) accessories here. No matter the budget you’re working with, this is a good place to shop.
We all know what it’s like, especially in the winter, to try to go for a drive only to be westward bound at the wrong time of day and be blinded by the sun. Those are the moments when you NEED to have a good pair of sunglasses in your car (that live there, so they don’t get left on the nightstand- AGAIN). This is a tough thing to buy for someone else because you need to know their personal style, their face shape and what’s comfortable for them. That’s why, I’m going to recommend to you that you hook them up with a gift certificate to treat themselves to a new pair of shades.
If you like the idea of giving a gift full of surprises, this may just be the thing. This is the only subscription box I’ve ever seen for car enthusiasts. Each month comes with fun shirts, car accessories, tools or supplies that would make any car fan happy. All you’ve got to do is get the party started is give them a little information about the person you’re gifting the subscription to (such as their shirt size and preferences) and Petrol Box will take it from there.
There are some fantastic and realistic racing video games out there. In fact, we compiled a list of our favorites here. If the person in your world enjoys spending their down time pounding the virtual pavement, perhaps you can help them level up their game play with a clever gift.
You can go mild to wild here. There are simple add on steering wheels all the way to full sit in racing seats and driving simulators. Please note the preferred gaming format. Things for PC, Xbox and Playstation are not the same and are not compatible.
Here’s a great resource to get you started: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/browse/gaming/ci/24607/N/3835434549
Tools and Equipment
There are some great tools out there that can really be a Godsend in the garage. Of course, this category can be tricky because you never can be sure what someone already has. That doesn’t mean it should necessarily be avoided though – perhaps there is something that works better than what they already have.
A few ideas for tools and equipment include:
Code Reader (for cars made after 1996)
Lets you tap into your car’s computer and see what is causing your check engine light to come on, diagnose problems, as well as lets you clear codes as you need to (to pass emission/smog tests). Code readers really break into three types.
Level 1: Inexpensive Bluetooth Code Scanners
If you are looking for < $100 gift, a Bluetooth ODB2 adapter is the way to go. It can read codes from almost all 1996 and newer cars. Using an app on your phone you can see and clear codes.
Level 2: Handheld Scanner
If you are looking for < $250 gift, a handheld scanner is the way to go. Unlike the Bluetooth adapter, these can often do a lot more than just read codes. They can reset service indicators and event do advanced things like program battery changes and modules (on certain modules). They also are easy to move between vehicles and generally provide a little more detail than the apps.
Level 3: Advanced Tablet Scanner
If you are looking for the ultimate gift, a an advanced tablet scanner will blow your recipient away. Sure they can cost into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But isn’t your car enthusiast friend/significant other worth it?
These professional and advanced readers can often do things you usually would need to go to the dealer for. They are intended for the hardcore garage mechanic.
This thing can be a lifesaver, literally. It’s completely portable so you can take it with you anywhere. Since it plugs into the car’s DC outlet, you can use it on the side of the road if you need to. The example below also has the ability to fill up sports balls and balloons as well. Even if you have an air compressor at home, I’d still pull this little thing out – it’s way easier to manage.
We all know what it’s like to go hop in the car only to find the battery dead. It may not be an “exciting” gift but the practicality of this will undoubtedly appeal to a certain segment of people. I can tell you this though, even if they aren’t excited taking it out of the box, they’ll have a complete appreciation for this handy dandy device the first time they need it.
Schumacher Fully Automatic Battery Charger and Maintainer 15 Amp/3 Amp
If you’re looking for a safe way to get the car lifted up off the ground to work under it, I highly recommend Race Ramps. They are wide, easy to pull the car onto, and very stable. If I’m going to stick my head under a car, I can’t have anything but confidence in what’s holding it up. More information about them can be found in our Garage Renovation Guide.
Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer
Alternatively, the Garmin Catalyst to help you make the most of your track time. It’s more expensive than some others, but also has more functionality. For example, the Garmin has a touch screen display (so no smartphone needed), audio integration (so it can tell you through the car speakers if you’re behind or ahead of your previous lap time) and a camera that records HD video with data overlays. It also offers coaching data as to where you did well, where you can improve and offers real time advice based on it’s track knowledge.
There are not many ways better to protect yourself from insurance hassles than by having a dash cam. It’s always good to have an indisputable witness in the car in the event something goes down. Here’s a good one:
Nextbase Dash Cam
Apex Track Coach
Got a racer to shop for? Everyone is looking for new ways to get an edge. Improving your times on road courses and autocross means you need to be able to analyze your performance- especially your cornering and braking. This clever device gives you a competitive edge by overlaying your driving data over what it already knows of the race course to help you find opportunities to improve. The lights indicate when you have maxed your car’s potential and where there is still room for improvement. It’s basically an in car digital driving coach. Heads up, it works by sending gps signals to an app which translates the data for you. This means you must have a phone with you in the car and, so far as I can tell, the phone must be an Apple device. This device would be great for someone with a race team as your team can watch a live stream of your laps and times on the app.
Ride Frsh Air Freshener Subscription
I’ve got to tell you guys that a air freshener subscription is not something I ever thought I’d need but now that I know how it is to have a fresh scent in my cars every month, I don’t want to do without them. These are not those little trees. The scents are strong but they don’t smell fake. And as an added bonus, the fresheners themselves are well designed so they don’t look lame hanging from your mirror. $5 plus shipping every month. Literally the gift that keeps on giving.
Home and Garage Décor and Art
Linear Edge Wall Art
I’ve had my eye on some of their 2D pieces to put in my garage for a while now. The only thing holding me back from ordering is that I can’t decide which one I’d want. Do I go for a local track that I’ve driven or an iconic track that I dream of driving on? Maybe I should get a 3D one for my office…. Decisions, decisions.
They also offer a range of car art and phone cases which are actually available for phones like Samsungs and Google Pixels (and of course a large selection for various iPhones).
Dolan Paper Company
If you want something a little geekier, check out the selection of “DI Vinci sketch” artwork from Dolan Paper Company. They have lots of makes and models, I was pleased to even find my car, a BMW M4 Convertible which I thought would be too specific. The price point is super reasonable with an 8X10 print being about $12. If none of the car offerings are geeky enough for you, scope out the Battlestar Galactica collection.
Petrol Supply Co.
This Etsy maker has some really great options to display your love of your car’s history. I personally own the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution one. A 24×36” poser will set you back a little over $50 but there are smaller (and lower priced) options as well.
Office Chairs and Accessories
Wanna help the racing fanatic in your life get their work done faster? Check out the office chairs by racing mainstay Sparco. If these seats can hold rally drivers while they barrel through corners and catch air over elevation changes, they can help you hold it together to get through your workday.
If you want to go a step further and deck out your whole office, check this out:
I’ve found some great finds, as well as some bizarre stuff like header toilet paper holders. (No, really!)
Toys and Games
Scale Models and Building Kits
Would your favorite car enthusiast enjoy a model version of their car (or their dream car) to keep in their home or office? Most would – it’s a great conversation starter. Just make sure to notate their specific model. You don’t want to get someone a model that’s a downgrade from what they own, nor do you want to give a model of a car that would be an upgrade to what they’re currently driving. We’re sensitive, you know.
Amazon is a great spot for this. You’ll find a few different size scale models, model kits to DIY and an assortment of really cool Lego kits.
Stuff for Babies and Kids
I love when people consider and include my kids. Any car enthusiast parent would be pleased to dress their kiddo in swag before taking them to an automotive event. Here’s a few cool products I’ve found:
Also, consider: Toys like Matchbox and Hot Wheels racing sets, remote controlled cars, ride on and motorized cars, clothing, bibs and blankets.
What Are We Missing?
Think we are missing an awesome gift idea? Let us know so we can add it! You can click this link to contact us: Contact ShiftAtlanta.