Garage Goodies: Car-Themed Gifts for Every Type of Automotive Fan

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The remaining days for holiday shopping are dwindling fast, which means it’s about time you finally addressed the automotive enthusiast on your list.

Take it from a car nut who’s received his fair share of car-themed ties, car-themed tee-shirts, car-themed board games, and car-themed books. Am I really that obvious?

There’s a lot more to understanding people with an automotive passion than feeding that interest with such a simple diet. This is why we’re taking the road less traveled, so to speak, and searching out automotive gifts and experiences that go far beyond the norm.

From high performance driving schools and automaker-branded cologne, to bumper protectors and a toy car powered by a bug, we have something for everyone – and every type of budget.

Here are some of our favorite holiday gift ideas with an automotive twist:

For the person who wants to smell like their favorite car: Car company branded cologne

Numerous car companies offer a full range of branded cologne for men, or perfume for women. You can pretty much turn your entire bathroom into a mini Mercedes dealership, since they also offer aftershave, shower gel, and deodorant.

Some high-end Mercedes-Benz models, like the S-Class sedan and coupe, offer a choice of in-car fragrances to enhance the cabin aroma. It’s true, we’ve even dabbed some behind our ears to test it out (and no, we don’t recommend this). Of course, Mercedes-Benz is hardly the first auto company to peddle a perfume atomizer in a vehicle. But it does present an interesting challenge: What if you could scent your car, and yourself, in sweet smelling Mercedes goodness?

The company, like MANY others, offers a full range of branded cologne for men, or perfume for women. You can pretty much turn your entire bathroom into a mini Mercedes dealership, since there is also your choice of aftershave, shower gel, and even deodorant. We haven’t had the chance to smell them in person, but we hope the aromas are of of leather and wood, as opposed to exhaust or engine oil.

Price: $65-$79.00 Eau de Toilette spray for men

Find it: www.mercedes-benz.com

For the special someone who constantly ‘bugs’ you about cars: The Bug Racer

The cricket-powered "Bug Racer" is available for only $40 from Toys "R" Us stores across the country, so hop on over and grab one.

If you don’t have a pet cricket, now’s the time to invest in one. Just in time for the holidays, Mattel has introduced the Bug Racer, a toy race car that utilizes the motions of a live cricket as the driving force. (We couldn’t make this up.)

It doubles as a home for the cricket and an amusement for its owners. Sure, it’s fun to see dogs driving cars in commercials, but wouldn’t you rather watch the amusing antics of a cricket “behind the wheel?” We sense a Cup series is in the works. Not suitable for use around hungry lizards, however.

Price: $34.99 (excludes shipping and handling)

Find it: www.toysrus.com

For the weekend warrior who wants to hit the slopes: A two-day rental of a Silvercar

The Silvercar formula is simple: Download the smartphone app, show up at a Silvercar location, and drive away in a…silver Audi A4. That’s your one and only choice of car, every time.

Traditionally, if you want to get away from New York City by car, your best bet is to travel to an airport to collect a rental car – that is, if you don’t want to be smacked with additional fees and limited selection. For the last few months, rental car “startup” Silvercar has quietly rolled out in New York, after serving Dallas, Chicago, Austin, and other major metro areas.

The Silvercar formula is simple: Download the smartphone app, show up at a Silvercar location, and drive away in a…silver Audi A4. That’s your one and only choice of car, every time. After a trial run in Brooklyn this summer, Silvercar has set up shop west of Times Square, just in time to use the A4’s Quattro all-wheel drive, navigation system, and wi-fi connection on a winter getaway. Skis not included. And you’d better like Audi A4s.

Price: $104/day (includes new customer discount code)

Find it: www.silvercar.com

For the kid in all of us, or for an actual kid: Tonka die-cast singles

If your childhood was like ours, it was impossible to leave the grocery store without ogling or picking out at least one die-cast model at the checkout counter.

If your childhood was like ours, it was impossible to leave the grocery store without ogling or picking out at least one die-cast model at the checkout counter. Indulge your inner child and check out Tonka’s newest collection of model trucks and job site vehicles.

Use them to clear your office desk clutter, or keep them as reminders of the young enthusiast who refuses to stop playing with toys. Your co-workers will definitely be jealous, or a little weirded out. Either way, you’ll have fun!

Price: From $7.89

Find it: http://www.funrise.com/tonka-micro-site/

For the city slicker with a parking problem: Car bumper guards

Call them unsightly, or indispensable, but bumper guards are an inexpensive way of saving face while parking in the cut and thrust of a big city. 

Call them unsightly, or indispensable, but bumper guards are an inexpensive way of saving face while parking in the cut and thrust of a big city. Great drivers are harder to find than free parking in New York, so do the curbing/scraping/bumping-prone person in your life a favor and shell out for a bumper guard.

Plenty of options exist, from Bumper Blocker, Bumper Badger, Bump Shox, and others. All are priced much less than the cost of refinishing the surface of your car’s front and hind quarters. And even if you consider yourself the world’s best parallel parker, the same probably can’t be said for the creep in front or behind you, right? Park and “fuggedaboutit,” for crying out loud!

Price: From $24.95

Find it: Bumper BlockerBump ShoxBumper BullyBumper Badger

For the driving enthusiast with a need for speed: A day at a performance driving school

An hour of off-roading at Land Rover’s driving school starts at just $250, but be prepared to pay upwards of $3,200 for two days of intense instruction at the Porsche Sport Driving School in Atlanta.

If your Secret Santa has mastered parking, consider giving him or her the taste of high-performance driving at an OEM-directed driving school, of which there are now many. Cadillac’s V-Series Academy takes place at Spring Mountain racetrack, just outside Las Vegas, while Mercedes-Benz’s AMG Driving Academy rotates among several prominent racetracks across the United States.

An hour of off-roading at Land Rover’s driving school starts at just $250, but be prepared to pay upwards of $3,200 for two days of intense instruction at the Porsche Sport Driving School in Atlanta.

Price: (Prices vary, but budget between $250- $500/day)

Find it: CadillacLand RoverMercedes-BenzPorsche

For the fuel mileage champion in your life: An Automatic mileage dongle

The Automatic dongle plugs directly into your car’s OBDII port.

So your officemate says that he always gets the most out of his car and beats EPA fuel economy estimates, but how do you know if he’s telling the truth? Gift him (or her) an “Automatic” for the holidays and, when you’re done, go ahead and buy a second one for your own car.

No, we’re not talking about a transmission. The Automatic dongle plugs directly into your car’s OBDII port. It can then read critical diagnostic information – as well as accurate fuel economy readings and fluid level warnings – which it then sends straight to a smartphone app. Learn from your results, or use them to brag at work.

Price: $79.99

Find it: www.automatic.com

For the automotive historian and lover of car culture: A trip to the reopened Petersen Museum

Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum, arguably America’s greatest collection of vintage automobiles, recently spent almost $100 million to overhaul its facility and collection. 

Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum, arguably America’s greatest collection of vintage automobiles, recently spent almost $100 million to overhaul its facility and collection. Considering they went to all this trouble and expense, you really have no excuse NOT to go.

Long gone is the slab-sided look of the department store-turned-museum, and in its place is a Hot Wheels-esque facade of interwoven streaks that make the building look like it’s moving. Inside there are new, brightly lit exhibits showcasing the cars and trucks that have made automotive history. Even a short visit is enough to inspire anyone to become a car enthusiast, and an afternoon at the Petersen is a must-do on any trip to L.A.

Come to think of it, if you’re a car nut looking to inspire others, this is the perfect gift to get the car haters in your life. They’ll share your high-octane addiction after seeing this museum, trust us.

Price: $15 entry fee for adults (does not include flight or hotel, but you can rent and live in this van for less than $50/day)

Find it: www.petersen.org

This article originally appeared on Daily News Autos

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