This time of year, automotive writers everywhere publish their Christmas wish list. Just use Google, and you can read all about how your favourite car writer wants that fancy new Lamborghini, a Bluetooth gizmo, some luxury floor mats, a fancy set of tires, and a set of Formula 1 tickets from Saint Nick.
I’ll offer my advice in a different way.
Clueless about what to get that car-buff on your Christmas list? You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the same circle as at least half of my family. So, do your favourite gear-head a favour and read my list of things you should never buy a gear-head as a present, would you?
As a first step, if you’re clueless about cars, get the car-buff on your list a gift card. Usually, gift cards are offensively unoriginal and tell the recipient that your sporadic acknowledgement of their existence manifested itself while they were at the shopping centre for toilet paper and lunch meat. For a car nut though getting, say, a Canadian Tire gift card for Christmas brings joy, smiles, and man-happiness for days to come.
If you’re set on buying an actual gift, keep the following in mind: My name is Justin Pritchard. I am a car nut, and like thousands of my brothers and sisters, I don’t want any of the following automotive-related crap for Christmas.
A Car Wash Kit
Car wash kits are OK as gifts for dad if he drives a Honda Accord. But anyone with a hot car wants to spend about 45 minutes every spring in the car-care aisle contemplating which wash/glaze/polish/wax combination is best. This is an important springtime ritual and pilgrimage for the car nut, and a vital and elemental part of manliness that’s essential to making one’s ride shiny and lustrous and appealing to the opposite sex. Translation? Don’t deny the car buff on your list this extremely personal voyage to the car-wash isle. Buying car-cleaning products as a gift is like buying underwear as a gift -- it’s a deeply personal and individual decision, and you’ll probably get it wrong.
A car-buff wants his ride to smell like fragrant leather, slightly burned motor oil, and plastic panels that are slowly leaching noxious chemicals. No car buff wants his ride smelling like cherries, orchards, tulips, lily-blossoms or any other smell related to the growth of plant life.
Bacon air fresheners are, however, acceptable and encouraged. Ditto for those little Black Ice scented pine-tree fresheners. Nothing is classier than catching a hearty whiff of Black Ice when you get into your ride.
Stick Figure Families
Ice Scraper Glove
Mankind recently landed a space-probe on a comet with rocket thrusters, radio waves and space-drills, and modern technology has also allowed some folks to create that new ice-scraper you’ve probably seen, which contains a built-in fleece glove to prevent the displeasing freezing of digits while clearing ice from a frozen windshield. What a magnificent time to be alive! But skip this gift please. Putting an ice-scraper blade onto a glove looks goofy -- and I have an ice scraper, and a pair of gloves. It’s winter, after all.
Does the gift you’re considering have chrome on one side and a peel-and-stick adhesive on the back? If so, I’ll probably peel-and-stick it to the inside of the nearest garbage can while you’re gone for an eggnog refill. Chrome is always the wrong choice -- unless the recipient is 5’3” and drives a Ford Super Duty with smokestack exhausts and a lift kit.
Steering Wheel Covers
No car-nut, anywhere, has ever put a steering-wheel cover on their steering wheel -- ever. Leave this one on the shelf with the cartoon floor mats and Hello Kitty seat covers.
Are you the zany, jovial, creepy uncle type? Fight the temptation to get your car-enthusiast a set of Truck Nuts, which are the most offensive things on the road since Ford Super Duty’s with smokestack exhausts and lift kits. These bumper-mounted testicle replicas do nothing but identify their user as an idiot to anyone they share the road with, because (as everyone knows) vehicles are female and don’t have nuts. Truck Nuts are even worse when hung from a car instead of a truck. Nuts have their place -- and hanging from a car bumper isn’t one of them.