12 great automotive gifts to fit every holiday budget
Wait a sec, Christmas is less than two weeks away? If you haven’t already started your holiday shopping, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal in your search for the perfect gearhead gift.
Whether you have a tight budget or an unlimited one, here are some ideas from Hagerty’s media team, all of which are sure to please the automotive enthusiast in your life—even if that enthusiast is you.
MAKO driver kit with 64 precision bits ($40)
The Mako Driver Kit includes iFixit’s 4mm aluminum screwdriver handle with a magnetic bit socket, knurled grip, and swivel top—plus 64 precision driver bits and a flexible extension. Says Hagerty social media manager Matt Lewis: “If you ever have to work on smaller stuff, get into tight spaces, or work with unique bits, this is my absolute favorite little tool kit.”
Car detailing ($100+)
Who doesn’t love a clean car? Better yet, who doesn’t love a clean car that someone else cleaned for them? Detailing costs vary (widely), depending on what you want done, but a fresh interior and sparkling exterior can usually be had for $100–$200. Whether it comes in the form of a gift certificate or a pre-paid appointment, car detailing is a wonderful way to say, “I appreciate you.”
TICARVE cleaning gel ($7)
If you know someone who enjoys cleaning their car themselves (yes, there are some), this is a super cheap product that will make the process a little easier. TICARVE Cleaning Gel and similar slime-like goop products get the gunk out of tight or difficult-to-reach spaces like air vents, consoles, steering wheels, door handles, cup holders, and gauges. Use it multiple times until it gets dark, then purchase a new one.
Personalized vanity plate (usually $20–$50)
Many states have made personalized license places so cheap that you see them EVRYWHR these days. In Michigan, for example, a personalized plate costs just $15 more than a standard one. Most states charge more than that, but generally you can get yours for $20–$50. The biggest hurdle, besides selecting a six- or seven-letter plate that no one else has thought of yet, is you’ll have to give cash to the person you’re gifting, rather than the plate itself. Regardless, it’s a unique gift that someone might find PRCLESS.
CargoTech containment system ($40)
We love WeatherTech floor liners and mats, and anyone who is gifted a set will likely love them too. If they’re a little too pricey for you, might we suggest another cool WeatherTech item, a CargoTech Containment System for your trunk?
For 40 bucks, you can keep cargo of all shapes and sizes from sliding around during your drive, whether it’s groceries, packages, luggage, or a dish of Grandma’s famous lasagna. Each of the four moveable pieces has a grippy underside that works on both rubberized and standard carpet, making it easy to adjust to the size you need. This one of those cool products that you don’t know you need but will be happy to own.
Indianapolis 500 tickets ($15–$130)
They don’t call the Indianapolis 500 “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for nothing. Find out firsthand in May 2023, as more than a century of history, progress, and speed come together for a thrill that you’ll never forget.
A field of 33 cars will vie for the coveted Indy 500 title on May 28, but there’s plenty to see in the days leading up to the 107th running of the race. The cheapest tickets ($15 for general admission) are for practice days, May 16–19; race-day tickets range from $40 for general admission to $130 for reserved seats (more expensive tickets are sold out).
Hagerty branded content writer Matt Fink encourages every motorsports enthusiast to put it on their bucket list. “I took my oldest son to the 100th running of the 500 when he was just 7, and he loved it. We still talk about it to this day,” he says. “Now that my youngest son is turning 7, I think we need to make this a tradition!”
Amelia Island Concours tickets
Looking for a classic car event that doubles as a winter getaway? How does Florida in March sound?
There are numerous events leading up to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, March 5. Highlights include a panel discussion with Corvette at Le Mans legends on Friday, Cars & Community Day on Saturday—including Cars & Caffeine, RADwood (featuring vehicles of the 1980s and ’90s), and the Concours d’Lemons (a celebration of oddball and unexceptional cars)—and a seminar featuring NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon plus an honoree dinner. But there’s nothing like the concours itself, when 250 historically significant vehicles compete for awards and accolades.
Dewalt modular right-angle attachment ($20)
Media content editor Nate Petroelje can’t wait to tell you how much he loves his Dewalt modular right-angle attachment, the 2-in-1 system that transforms from a compact right angle to a standard right angle. So let’s get to it.
“When I got this last Christmas, it completely changed how I looked at any automotive project that didn’t involve heading to a shop. Yes, I had a breaker bar already. Yes, I had a ratchet for knocking nuts back on. But this tool cut the time I needed for wheel swaps, brake work, and more, almost in half—more than that, in some cases.
“If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working in a shop that had an impact gun but then were banished back to an existence without one, this is your return ticket to living in the light.”
iOttie ITap 2 magnetic iPhone holder ($20–$25)
If you don’t own an iPhone holder, maybe it’s time to treat yourself so you can concentrate on driving instead of fumbling for your phone in traffic.
There are plenty of good ones that’ll do the job, but a straw vote here revealed a preference for magnetic phone mounts. For $20–$25 on Amazon, the iOttie iTap Magnetic 2 comes in vent-, dash-, and CD slot–mounted versions, and the heavy-duty magnets adequately do the job, whether the phone is vertical or horizontal. With that said, some may prefer the RAM Mounts X-Grip phone holder. For $43.99, is it worth twice the price? Please don’t Google the reviews until you’re out of your car.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3/8-inch ratchet bare tool ($199)
There’s no hiding that the Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3/8-inch ratchet costs considerably more than the other gift ideas on this list, but it’s worth every nickel to Hagerty digital arts editor Bridget Davies.
“I love this tool,” she says of the cordless ratchet, which has up to 55 lb-ft of max torque and 200 rpm. “It’s super versatile, works well in tight spaces, is cordless, travels incredibly well, and I’d consider it worthy for both pros and backyard mechanics. We don’t leave home in the MK1 Volkswagens without it … and a set of spare axles.”
Dozens of outlets carry it, including Home Depot and Ace Hardware.
Secrets of the Barn Find Hunter, by Tom Cotter ($20.49)
When you’ve parked your car, put your tools down, and grabbed a hot beverage on a cold night, maybe it’s time to enjoy a good book. Or share a good one with a friend. We love Tom Cotter’s Barn Find Hunter YouTube series, and as we shared previously, his latest book (Secrets of the Barn Find Hunter) gets inside his head and heart in a fascinating way. The book is chock-full of tips, suggestions, and insights that will help and encourage classic-car enthusiasts go hunting for forgotten vehicles in their own backyard.
Looking for a children’s book to read to your up-and-coming gearhead? Quarto Publishing offers a series of colorful Ambulance/Fire Truck/Police Car to the Rescue! books that are sure to keep their interest, all for less than 10 bucks.
Glamour Road: Color, Fashion, Style, and the Midcentury Automobile ($65)
Recommended by Hagerty senior editor Kirk Seaman, Glamour Road will appeal not only to classic car enthusiasts but also to history buffs and anyone interested in midcentury fashion and design. The 12×9-inch book explores how glamour, fashion, design, and styling became the main focus of automotive marketing from the postwar 1940s through the ’70s, and it does it through 425 color and black-and-white photographs. Bonus: If you order through Destination PSP (link above), you’ll get a copy that’s signed by authors Tom Dolle and Jeff Stork.
In a similar vein, it’s hard to beat Rob Keil’s Art Fitzpatrick & Van Kaufman: Masters of the Art of Automobile Advertising, but since we’ve written about it before, we won’t drone on about it again (although that wouldn’t be difficult). And if you’ve already spent your gift-giving budget, there’s hope: Keil created a documentary about Fitzpatrick that you can watch for free on YouTube.
From our garage to yours, Happy Holidays!
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If your gearhead recipient lives more than 25 miles away from you, this probably won’t work, but if they are close-by, here’s a suggestion that effectively cost $0.00! Offer to give them a day-long cruise opportunity when warm weather comes along. “I’ll mow your lawn/watch your kids/take care of your dog/etc. so you can spend a whole, worry-free day in your favorite car”…just fit the chore(s) that would keep your friend at home into your offer. Sure, it probably means that you will have to give up a day of your own cruising, but hey, giving is better than receiving, right? 🎅
Better yet batteries for the Milwaukee tools.
Most of us have the tools.
Yes, but more? There’s always room for more. I got a heated jacked and a cellphone charger for elk season. Electric heat under the cammo.
Don’t forget the work lights too.
But yes, batteries, esp the XCs
I love battery-powered tools – in the right situations. They are great additions to my tool arsenal, but they aren’t best for all challenges. Plus, many years ago, I went to the trouble of piping compressed air all over my shop with quick-connections in key locations. To justify all that effort, I feel that I just NEED to use some air tools now and then. Plus, in some cases, they truly do a better job. I can run low on battery power, but I seldom run low on shop air. Thus, the Santa in me (most of us have a little Santa in us, don’t we?) bought a 3/8″ drive Milwaukee right-angle air wrench to put in my stocking this year. It’s something I’ve wanted, I saw it on sale, and I just happen to have room on my air-tool wall for it. All I need to do now is remember to act surprised on Christmas morning! 😍
Personalized license plates are cool, but here in Ontario they cost $310 ! The good news is that renewal stickers are currently free.
My Christmas present to myself this year is a new muffler for my Jeep TJ (Amazon $101 CDN).
I would really love another Mazda Miata.
I love the cleaning gel. I need to get some.