The Car Bibles Gift Guide For People Who Love Their Cars Way Too Much
Car Bibles Editor-In-Chief Andrew P. Collins loves buying car-related trinkets. Since it’s the season to spend money, he’s sharing some faves.
Trying to buy a car-related gift but don’t know where to start? Or maybe just don’t want your discerning-automobile-enthusiast giftee to roll their eyes when they get through the packaging. Either way, you’re in the right place: This is Andrew’s Personal Choice gift guide 2020. There may be many gift guides like it, but this one is the realest.
I'm introducing myself a little aggressively here because I'm winding up to relaunch Car Bibles, a sister site of The Drive, into the ultimate resource for DIY and how-to guides, car repair advice, buying resources and more. We just hired a crack squad of writers to help us do that, and you'll be hearing from them soon too. So here I am; rocking you like a hurricane, and so on.
Anyway, onto the items that should be on your list this holiday season.
The internet as a whole gets lousy with gift guides every December. They’re helpful for finding good-value items quickly, but the best gifts of all aren’t always about efficiency. Sometimes you want to give something with a little sparkle; something that’s not necessarily easy to find unless you know where to look.
That's why I want to bring you my first batch of APC endorsements. APC happens to be my initials, and in this case, it also stands for Andrew’s Personal Choice. That's a new stamp of awesomeness I'm hoping to be handing out more often. Since, as an insatiable collector of curiosities, I consider myself uniquely qualified to recommend exceptionally cool items.
High-End Gifts For Old-School Nissan Z Stans
Hey, I said this list was personal! As you’d know if you followed me on Instagram, I’ve been restoring a 1984 Nissan 300ZX over the last few years. As such I’ve been ordering products for these cars from all over the internet. A couple of things have really stood out.
I just got a billet battery tie-down bar from Z-Spec Design out of Ohio, the quality of execution and feel on this thing are both just incredible. Normally this is a part that's necessary, but easily forgotten; you probably don't think much about yours. But the one I got feels like a work of art.
Every angle is perfect, the “Z” cut-in is classy without being too flashy, and the texture is tres premium. It fits just right to boot. Z-Spec makes all kinds of engine dress-up accessories like this for various Nissans, I won’t hesitate to recommend their work.
And while we're talking about decorative Datsun items, I have to brag about my sweet titanium key. I was a little wary of spending $70 for a dang key blank when I ordered my titanium key from Ronin Imports, but the design was so seductive that I had to treat myself. It was totally worth it, this Z32-style key replica is nothing less than a work of art. I don’t even hang the key on my key rack, I leave it on my desk so I can stare at it all day and touch it whenever I want.
Cheaper Gifts For Retro JDM Fans
Zooming out just a tiny bit, to “old-school Japanese cars” instead of just Nissans and Datsuns specifically, I found a couple of small-batch stores to patronize: Yanimator Art and Star Cruiser Drive Yard.
Yanimator has a great variety of JDM and anime-themed keychains, stickers, and little art pieces that are really fun. I got a keychain that’s a caricature of the Devil Z hero car from Wangan Midnight (cars and anime on that one!) and I’m really happy with it. The acrylic body is robust, the resolution on the image is superb, and it’s even got little sparkles in it!
As for Star Cruiser, I just randomly stumbled upon it while looking at pictures of Mitsubishi Starions on Instagram. I got me a Starion sticker that I’m going to gift to a friend who used to own one. It hasn’t arrived in the mail yet so I can’t comment on execution, but the selection of cars and art style over there are worth checking out.
A Gift For Your Friend Who Likes Big-Gulps
Aftermarket cupholders are a tricky proposition, in that, a lot of them don't work. But what's a car if not a giant beverage socket on wheels, I ask.
If you or someone you know also feels that way, but their vehicle is lacking in cupholder quantity or quality, check out The Ledge. This is a beefy drink holster wide enough to accommodate an enormous coffee cup or whatever else you sip on while driving. The normal application is to stick it in your car's door via the window slot, though I will say I tried this in my Mitsubishi and the thing was just too large and the truck couldn't roll up its window properly with the thing in place.
However I moved it over to my Scout, where I slung it over the edge of my center console instead, and it works perfectly!
Personalized Gifts For Particularly Proud Car Owners
Speaking of automotive art on Instagram, one of the most fun things I spent money on this year was a caricature of my International Scout from artist Brian Theodore, who goes by Stancetoonz online. How cool is this:
The process was great, I DM’d that account asking about pricing and availability, they hit me back, I sent a photo of my truck for them to work off, and about a week later I had this incredible image to enjoy!
Commissioning art is a great way to spend money because all your cash goes straight to the creator, there’s no corporate vampire intermediary. Just keep in mind that you’re working with an individual, not a faceless corporation when you make your inquiries. You might not get immediate responses or an instant-refund policy. Make sure everybody’s on the same page when you agree to a product and a price, understand that what you’re buying is organic and may not look exactly as you pictured it. And never ask for art for free. If it were easy to whip up, you’d do it yourself, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, I had a great experience working with Stancetoonz but there are quite a few folks who will draw a picture of a car for you for money. And of course, they all have distinctive styles. Search around and don’t be shy about DM’ing people. Here are a few other advanced artists you might want to look at, which I follow online but haven’t bought art from yet:
Gifts For Adventurers
The world of off-road driving and overlanding has no shortage of dongles great and small that you can spend all kinds of money on. But if you’re looking to gift something unique and artsy that also has actual enthusiast cred, go see my friends at 4x4ward.
I discovered their site on Instagram (I really should spend less time on Instagram, huh?) and have ordered a few things, all of which have been cool and interesting. Old, unusual, and generally hard to find vintage items are all over this site, and the stock changes all the time. It’s like a cool thrift store for retro off-road stuff!
If your giftee likes off-road stuff but prefers a more in-your-face aesthetic, check out Seek & Enjoy. Artist Nick Sawyer creates very cool, somewhat ’70s/’80s-looking stickers and shirts over there. I’ve bought quite a few and have no complaints about print quality.
Gifts For Offline Car People
I’ve been a member of The Motoring Club for over a year now. We’ve got a clubhouse in west Los Angeles where we meet up to hang and talk cars. Unfortunately, it’s been closed a lot lately due to pandemic restrictions and it’s not really open to the public.
However, the dudes who run the joint are launching a print mag called The Motoring Journal soon, which is going to be a quarterly published book with pretty pictures and fun stories. Even better: Signing up comes with stickers and keychains and everybody loves that stuff. Folks who want to check that out can get versions of club membership that’s applicable no matter where you live.
An ultra-premium print publication that’s already got some momentum is The Road Rat. Every issue is gorgeous and collectible. I’ve pawed through a few on friends’ coffee tables, it’s a great way to give your eyes a break from screens. Another newcomer that The Drive's Editorial Director Patrick George is particularly fond of these days is Hypertrash Magazine; it's probably what staffs of sites like The Drive and Jalopnik would put together if none of us had to chase internet traffic or e-commerce dollars.
A Gift For Practical Car People
I’ve received tire pressure gauges as gifts a few times. Maybe because they’re often sitting on sale racks near the cash register at auto parts stores? Anyway, I’m not complaining, they’re useful and I like to keep one in each of my cars.
Funny enough, @john_osborn on Twitter recently posted about “needing a tire pressure gauge” and asked if folks had preferences between the stick-style ones that look like pens, analog round dial ones that look like clocks, or digital gauges.
I would have replied to them myself but was happy to see that several folks shouted out my go-to recommendation ahead of me: Accu-Gage analog with a pressure relief valve all the way, baby.
Accu-Gage makes elegant and easy-to-use tire pressure gauges in a whole bunch of sizes. Grab one that goes to 60 psi for your car-driving friend. I prefer the analog ones because they don’t have batteries that can die, and the form factor is a little classier than the digital ones which look like ear thermometers.
This reminds me, I lost my last Accu-Gage a while ago, so mom if you're reading this...
A Gift For Me
Besides that tire pressure gauge, if anybody’s got a line on the lower horizontal grille that mounts just below the chrome section in a 1998, ’99 or ’00 Montero front bumper, get at me! Every time I find one in a boneyard it's already been cracked. I’ve been reasonably good this year and everything!
Anyway, I hope you're having a Merry Consumptionmas season wherever you are. And if you enjoy car trinkets as much as I do, hopefully, this list of items has brought you a little joy and help with holiday shopping.
If you can appreciate this level of nerdiness and specificity when it comes to automotive accessories, you're going to have a good time with us over at Car Bibles. When it comes online in earnest, the site will be chock full of projects, parts-hunts, misadventures, and auto advice for practical people. In the meantime, we're going to get some action going on Car Bibles' Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages so come hang out with us there!
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