The Drive 100: The Best Gear of 2015
If you didn’t know, now you know.
Every day through Dec. 23, the writers and editors of The Drive are bringing you the essential guide to the year in car culture. Divided across 10 core categories, The Drive 100 is a celebration and send-up of the year that was. Check back tomorrow for: Concept Cars.
Salt Optics/Aether Apparel Explorer Sunglasses
Salt and Aether's sunglass collaborations were designed for motorcycle riding, but you'll love them no matter your proclivities. Think of them as a perfect marriage of your favorite aviators and practical glacier glasses. Hard, perforated shields protect the edges of your eyes from debris and reflected light. Beta Titanium construction keeps the glasses featherweight, tough as hell—and spendy. But like all good things, they're also worth every penny.—Chris Cantle, West Coast editor
Autodromo Group B Watch
The Autodromo Group B watch is simple, harkens back to the Group B rally monsters of the Eighties and is—if the $925 price is any reflection—made from some mighty fine materials. It's a Porsche 964, a Ford RS200, a Renault 5 Turbo and an Audi Quattro S1 you can wear on your wrist. What's not to like?—Benjamin Preston, writer-at-large
Oscar Mayer Mini Weiner Rover
Intestinal balloons filled with emulsified beef, pork and inscrutable fillers are big business in the Land of the Free, and Oscar Mayer wields the biggest, erm, selection in your grocer’s frozen foods aisle. But in 2015, the brand was transcended by its own Weiner Rover: an offroad-worthy R/C terror that in turn was transcended by a lite-bite version of itself, the Mini Weiner Rover—both of which, of course, being riffs on their grandaddy, the Wienermobile. For those keeping score, that’s three degrees removed from the dog on your grill. Got it? Mini Rovers became available in fitful farts via Oscar Mayer’s Twitter account for the low low price of $25, but with minuscule allotments on any given day, scarcity bred much coveting. The pitch-perfect, hair-metal-sountracked YouTube spots, which you can watch above, only fanned the desire. I didn’t nab a Rover. But there’s always 2016, right Oscar? Right?—Jonathan Schultz, deputy editor
Leica Ultravid 8X32 Zagato Binoculars
Zagato, the nearly century-old Italian carrozzeria, is best known for its lightweight, dynamic and aerodynamic vehicle designs for the likes of Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Fiat and Lancia. The firm’s signature is the double-bubble roof, incorporated to aid airflow, as well as to add enough room inside the cockpit to don a racing helmet. Now, like so much burrata, the shop has spread its sensibility onto another venerable European luxury firm, Leica (c. 1849), adding flair—and a touch of Italian drama—to a product that could hardly get more staid: binoculars. Working in Zagato’s favored material, aluminum, the resulting Leica Ultravid 8X32 Zagato Binoculars wear thousands of microgrooves to enhance tactility, a custom Italian leather case (because everything you touch should be made from Italian leather) and a thin rim of crimson enamel to enhance your ability to see red at your next birding trip, Formula 1 race or voyeuristic opportunity.—Brett Berk, writer-at-large
Gramovox Vertical Turntable
There’s always the risk, as someone under 40 with a record player, that you’ll come off as a twee, arch-Brooklyn Luddite. Because, really, a higher-end, battery-powered, Bluetooth-enabled speaker like the Bose Soundlink III will do you right almost all the time: Its portability, cost and ruggedness make anything with a needle look like an electronic spinning wheel. But then, there’s the style play, and no machine made a better aesthetic argument in 2015 than the Gramovox Vertical Turntable. It plays records upright, like a pinwheel. Those awesome graphics you love? Watch them work. The maple base and carbon-fiber tone-arm are analogue at its most awesome, and the record is belt-driven, lending the turntable a distinctly automotive look; speakers are built-in, for a compact footprint. Finally, a record player your great uncle won’t recognize as “just like his.”—Ben Keeshin, staff writer
DJI Inspire 1
Drones are proof that the future is now. They can turn a normal guy, with hours of time to spend practicing, into a pro filmmaker. Not even the sky is the limit. We see this all the time at racetracks, where camera-mounted drones are ubiquitous. Drones will also soon be delivering products to us instantly, so in the future, we’ll never have to get out of bed. Just keep that pad thai coming! Pictured here: the DJI Inspire 1 ($3,099 with camera included). Here’s an example of what one customer, Jonathan Lucan of San Antonio, Texas, did with his Inspire 1. Color us gobsmacked. —A.J. Baime, editor-at-large
Passport Max 360 Radar Detector
For 25 years the Valentine 1 has stood light years ahead of every other radar detector on the market. Why? Its patented directional display. But the era of the V1 is over. The all-new Passport Max 360includes not only a directional display, but integration with the Escort Live, which fuses crowdsourced police location/false alarm data with Waze. The Max 360 is an absolutely mandatory purchase for every professional speeder. What does a detector that makes competing products look like overpriced bricks go for? $650. The best always costs real money, but if it saves you from even a single ticket—factoring in fines, court fees and increased insurance premiums—it pays for itself. Don’t be an amateur. Buy one now.—Alex Roy, editor-at-large
Waylens Automotive Camera System
Holiday gear red alert. The Waylens Automotive Camera System is essentially a dashcam on steroids. In addition to a crystal-clear HD picture, the Waylens overlays the vehicle’s mph, rpm, G-force, turbo PSI and even the weather conditions so you can capture every bit of your motor-bound adventure. And instead of being at the mercy of an Internet connection, Waylens can automatically upload video directly to your phone for easy editing and sharing. The camera also can use your car’s OBD-II port to determine the most exciting parts of your drive based off mph, rpm and G-force spikes, and prep those highlight reels with the touch of a button.—Max Goldberg, assistant editor
Fox Archer Duffel
It could be my grandad’s Depression Era upbringing, or maybe it’s because our family ran a record store for nearly four decades. But I’ve wound up with a very specific philosophy toward consumption: Buy fewer things, buy better things. Decent boots, a solid wrench set, Kef speakers—stuff that’ll last is an investment. And if you’re on the road constantly, like I am, a travel bag falls under that same heading. After my favorite old duffle was stolen this summer, I ordered one from Fox Archer as a temporary replacement. I wound up keeping it. Despite being inexpensive, this carry-on is quality, in material and assembly and feel. A pleasant surprise, and the best thing I bought all year.—Max Prince, senior editor
Ram X-Grip Mount
I hate nothing more than distracted drivers: texting, Googling, emailing. For the most part, I've managed to curtail my own distracted habits. The one thing I can't stop using are Waze, Google Maps and other nav apps. So I got this very grippy Ram X-Grip mount, which is phone-agnostic and can stick securely on basically any car surface but leather. So that's one less distraction in life.—Mike Guy, editor
MORE TO READ
The Drive 100: The Most Interesting People of 2015
And if you didn’t know, now you know.
De-Clutter Your Work Space With This Moto Gear Organizer
The three-in-one kit to alleviate your workplace clutter.