7 tips when buying gifts for car people
We could drop a list of items we have bought or would like to buy for ourselves this holiday season, but rather than give you a fish, we are giving you a few tips so you can reel in awesome gifts—at any price point—for the gearhead in your life.
Regardless of what projects they might be working on, there are a couple of easy ways to look for gifts that car-crazy people will really appreciate. Follow these seven tips and you will likely find the perfect thing.
What vehicle is in their workshop?
There are two sides to this one: What projects they are working on and what is taking up space inside their workspace? The vehicles we work on are typically dear to us for various reasons, and fun trinkets or doodads (ex. keychains) with images of that vehicle are low-hanging fruit. Cool banners or large prints of their ride (just ask the year, make, and model—they’ll be happy to tell you) make any shop feel more homey, assuming they have the wall space.
Look around at vehicles are in their garage, and what space exists for potential decoration, and you have two solid avenues to cool, memorable gifts—even if you choose a neon clock so they know when to come inside for dinner …
Help solve a problem (even if it’s not really a problem)
Speaking of solving problems, what does your favorite car person complain about at the end of the evening, when they come in from their shop? Lack of space, dirty benches, or gloves that just don’t get the job done? All those pain points are gift-giving opportunities in disguise. Complaints about lack of space or dirty areas and tools might mean that an organizational gift would be appreciated. It could be as simple as a set of plastic trays in various sizes (yes, really!).
It’s rare that a DIY-er wants to pay a premium for personal protective equipment. Snag a premium pair of safety glasses or buy a custom earplug kit or a nice set of noise-reducing over-ear muffs.
Don’t get too charged up
Battery-powered tools are getting downright inexpensive, compared to how much luxury they can provide for a DIY-er. However, giving tools can be really tough if you aren’t well informed about your favorite wrencher’s habits and techniques. Do yourself a favor and look real closely at what brand names are on their cordless tools—or ask them what their preferred brand of battery-operated tool is.
When in doubt, grab a gift card: Most brands use different chargers and battery packs, and they aren’t interchangeable, which means a new tool from a different brand is more of an annoyance than a help, especially in an already crowded garage.
DIY for your DIY’er
Who doesn’t love a gift that is built or created just for them? Old factory service manuals typically have really fun line drawings and cut-away diagrams throughout that are easy to scan and put in a nice frame. (Maybe a frame you make?) Make sure to find a manual that applies to the year, make, and model of vehicle that your favorite car-person owns. Pull the right page, and the diagram will become an art piece that fits into most homes.
Buy them a project
Yeah, you’d think the last thing a car person would want is another project, but trust us on this one. If you want to go full-scale, we won’t stop you, but a desktop model or tabletop trinket that requires assembly is more what we had in mind. Take the gift an extra step further, and ask to be a part of the building process. Scale models, remote-controlled cars, or miniature engines—we never really grow up, and car people are no exception.
The old “coupon book”
Just write down a few “help bleed brakes” or “take 15 more minutes in the garage when needed*” notes on index cards, and hand them over. You are giving your gearhead the freedom to do the activities they love, perhaps with an extra set of helping hands, and recognizing how much those activities mean to them. Sure, these “coupons” are not as flashy as other ideas, or as concrete, but it’s the thought that counts. If done right, this gift can be the most thoughtful one of all.
(*some exclusions may apply)
Keep it simple
You came here looking for ideas, so it’s likely your loved one is into the type of stuff you find on this website. Why not give them more of that? A Hagerty Drivers Club membership puts them in the loop on exclusive events and includes a subscription to our magazine (six issues yearly). Oh, and roadside assistance, plus discounts on dozens of products they probably want to buy anyway. You spent $70 and potentially save them way more. Who doesn’t love that?
Gift-giving is always tough, and it’s only tougher when you’re buying for someone who has a very niche hobby, one they’ve probably invested in for a long time. Even so, there are thoughtful and fun gifts to give your favorite car-obsessed person. Hopefully this list gave you a good jump on a few ideas. If there is a particularly cool idea you have given or received in the past leave it as a comment below. You might just make someone else’s holiday.