What's the most significant yuletide gift you can bestow on someone you love? A car-related one, of course.
That's certainly true. After all, would a wild-eyed person with a vehicle-centric disorder mislead you?
Car presents generally fall into two categories: fun and utility.
When it comes to fun, I find that looking at memorable cars is the next best thing to driving them, which is why I get a kick out of books about wonderful automobiles that are laden with top-notch photography. Two examples come to mind:
My Porsche Book by René Staud is about the automaker's first production sports car, the fabled and lusted-after 356, created in 1948 and built until 1964. A hit in Germany, this premium publication is now available with an English translation just in time for the holiday season. Those clever devils.
The book takes a look at all this iconic car's variants through the artful camera of its author, who is an excellent automotive photographer as well as a 356 owner. It's delightful but not cheap: $56.62 from Amazon.
(Porsche partisans would also get a kick out of PorscheTurbo: The Inside Story of Stuttgart's Turbocharged Road and Race Cars by Randy Leffingwell. $42.02, Amazon.)
James Bond Cars by Frederic Brun reunites us with decades of those gorgeous and gimmicky Bondmobiles, from the Aston Martin with the ejector seat to that exquisite Rolls-Royce Phantom. An unexpected bonus is the inclusion of transit used by the Bond girls and the Bond baddies. It's $28.16 from Amazon.
As for gifts with utility, my conversations with operators of stores like AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts revealed a customer proclivity for practical and affordable car-care products ranging from detailing preparations, tar remover, and cleaner/wax to emergency road kits and wiper blades.
"People do give wiper blades for presents," said Brian Leming, an AutoZone manager.
"I give my sister wiper blades every Christmas," said Tim Dickens, a "parts pro" at an Advance Auto Parts store.
As my wife and I left Advance Auto Parts, I allowed that if Tim is married, I hope he doesn't try to give his wife wiper blades for Christmas.
"I wish you'd give me some wiper blades for Christmas," my wife replied. "Mine don't work very well."
Looking around AutoZone, I came across several gifts your recipient might like.
A do-it-yourselfer might welcome an oil-change kit ($27.99) that includes everything you need, right down to the pan to catch the waste oil that can be dropped off for recycling free at an AutoZone store.
I also noticed a nifty set of front floor mats emblazoned with the names or logos of Jeep, Dodge, Honda, and Chevrolet ($34.99). (You can also get a steering-wheel cover autographed by Jeep for $19.99.)
While we were in the store, I asked my wife what she would buy as a gift. Presently, she pointed to a High Road Express Media Organizer ($12.99), which hangs from the back of a front-seat headrest and provides a clear plastic case for an iPad tablet that keeps sticky little fingers off it and pockets for snacks and games.
"I would get that for our granddaughter," she said.
She also picked a Sure Bilt 56-Piece Emergency Road Kit that included booster cables, an LED flashlight, slip joint pliers, a two-in-one screwdriver, electric tape, a first-aid kit, and a warning triangle to display in emergencies, at $19.99 until Dec. 24.
At AutoZone, I noticed an interesting cure for those originally clear headlight lenses that yellow with age: 3M headlight restoration kits, ranging from $22.99 to $31.99, clear up and polish headlight lenses comprehensively through sanding, cleaning, and sealing.