Black Friday? Feh! HighGearMedia's 2009 Holiday Gift Guide

November 20, 2009

Time, as they say, has flown.

It seems like just yesterday we were nursing New Year's hangovers and saying things like "GM declare bankruptcy? Never!", and today, we find ourselves in late November, weary and bleary and kind of amazed that so much has happened so fast. We're moving deep into holiday territory now, which for blogs like this means two things: (1) a bunch of year-end wrap-ups, and (2) holiday shopping guides. We're still working on those first items (believe us, they're coming), but since we're just a week away from Americans call "Black Friday", now's  as good a time as any to start dispensing the gift-giving guidance.

Just to be clear: we haven't included a lot of "obvious stuff" on our list. As devoted tinkerers and fixers, we're sure you know exactly where to pick up the best ratchet set or the niftiest seat cover. Most of the items below are things that gearheads and their friends are prone to enjoy, but would never think to buy for themselves. If you believe we've missed something really big -- and we've probably missed several thousand -- be sure to drop us a line or leave a note in the comments below.

Personal Accessories

Michelin HydroEdge Boots

Michelin HydroEdge Boots

Clothing is always a tricky thing to give. Everyone has a personal style, and what looks like a million bucks to you might look like government cheese to them. However, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule -- including two new pairs of work boots from Michelin. Like the tires for which the company is famous, the Michelin Pilot Exalto ($129) and Michelin HydroEdge ($111) are both designed for top-level traction. They're lightweight, durable, and best of all, readers of TheCarConnection.com get either pair for only $79. Just click here to see which boots are right for you (or, you know, someone else), and enter the code "CARXHY" at checkout. Hey, don't say we never gave you anything.

Tiffany 1837 valet key ring

Tiffany 1837 valet key ring

Key rings are the go-to gift for gearheads of all stripes. There are plenty of places to find 'em, but if Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard taught us anything -- and they taught us plenty -- it's that everyone loves a gift swaddled in Tiffany's signature blue box. We suggest the company's valet key ring in stainless steel with sterling silver accents ($160). Your friend/family member/loved one may not valet now, but this will certainly give him or her an excuse to indulge now and then.


Lamborghini Diablo gloves

Lamborghini Diablo gloves

We mentioned Lamborghini's  scented candles and holiday ornaments a couple of months ago, but just between us, the company's Diablo leather gloves seem like a much better gift. There's a curious pricing disparity between men's ($136) and women's ($91) styles, so you might want to scribble this down next to the name of your favorite gearhead gal.

Around the House

'Feral House' by James D. Griffioen

'Feral House' by James D. Griffioen

Remember when we discussed James Griffioen's photos of decaying Detroit? Well, his work is now available through Jen Beckman's truly awesome 20x200.com. The photo at right comes in various sizes and in editions of 200, 500, and 20, and 8" x 10" prints start at an insanely reasonable $20. So maybe it's time to replace that reproduction poster from Mother, Jugs & Speed?

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini

Chances are pretty good that you've got an iPod acolyte on your shopping list. If you're feeling particularly generous, why not send him or her a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini Docking Speaker for iPod ($400)? It's both pretty and functional -- two things we always appreciate -- allowing gadgets in the iPod/iPhone family to plug in directly to the Zeppelin's impressive speaker system. Though it's on the pricey end, similar gadgets -- like the one offered by Bose ($400) -- fall in the same range. And the Zeppelin also has a USB port, so you ever-grateful recipient can run sound from his/her laptop, too. Nifty.

Toys

2010 Automoblox T900

2010 Automoblox T900

For gearheads who won't grow up, toy cars are a great gift idea. Automoblox is an obvious place to start your shopping, since it offers a full range of pint-sized rides for kids, hipsters, and other tchotchke enthusiasts.  Our current fave: the sporty T900 truck ($45). Parents, if you're going to start your kids on a lifetime hobby, this one may keep 'em from breaking the piggybank.

H2Go Fuel Cell Car

H2Go Fuel Cell Car

While we're on the subject of toy cars: eco-friendly types may want to look into the H2Go Fuel Cell Car ($99 at Amazon). Apparently, the H2Go "runs on renewable, zero-emission hydrogen fuel" -- which sounds great, but we sure wish they'd given us some additional details. Still, having a remote-controlled vehicle that's battery free (even the remote control itself!) could make the holidays go much smoother. Moms and dads, can we get an "Amen"?

Travel Goods

BMW travel bag

BMW travel bag

Whether we like it or not, traveling is a must during the holidays. The only problem: having the right size bag to get all those gifts to grandma's house and then scoot back home with your loot. The microfiber BMW Travel bag (€199) with a detachable carrying strap may very well fix that problem. It folds to about the size of an envelope, so it's easy to pack, and it adjusts to a variety of sizes. If you're looking for something a bit more somber and reserved, try the BMW wheeled travel bag (€100). It's not quite as flexible as the first, but it comes in basic black (always a plus). Order both online or through your local BMW dealer.

Scrolling LED message sign with remote [from ThinkGeek.com]

Scrolling LED message sign with remote [from ThinkGeek.com]

For the tech nerd and/or recovering D&D addict on your list (you know, like us?), there's no place better to shop than ThinkGeek.com. We've mentioned their Coffee Cup Power Inverter (just $30 AND it looks like a cup), but there are loads of other gizmos on the site to fit your bill. Planning to have a holiday intervention? Give the tippler on your list an AlcoHawk Digital Alcohol Detector ($45) and they might sober up on their own. Would your pal like to know more about her/his car's performance? Try the Car Chip Pro Engine Performance Monitor ($100) or the ScanGauge II Automotive Computer ($160); both plug into the OBD II port, giving drivers access to loads of data, allowing them to re-set the "check engine" light, and many other swell things. And for its sheer annoyance factor, we kind of love the Scrolling LED Message Sign ($40) --  because why say anything with a bumper sticker when a big, flashy display will do?

Everything Else

Shelby Manual Pedal Covers

Shelby Manual Pedal Covers

We can't all drive Carroll Shelby Mustangs, but for $99, your feet can get a similar thrill. Shelby Manual Pedal Covers are beautifully contoured, and they come with all the hardware needed for installation. Yeah, there's a set for automatic transmissions, too, but we're not sure Carroll knows about 'em.

Shotgun Rules Pocket Reference Guide

Shotgun Rules Pocket Reference Guide

We mentioned the Shotgun Rules Pocket Reference Guide a couple of weeks ago, but given the impending roadtrip season (starting next week for Americans!), we thought we'd repeat ourselves. At just $6, it's a cheap fix to some potentially nasty problems. You can thank us later.

MINI calendar 2010

MINI calendar 2010

Frankly, we hate calendars. They're the slightly less frou-frou equivalent of the scented candle: a one-size-fits-all gift that doesn't usually show much thought or ingenuity. However, there are a few instances when calendars are entirely appropriate -- for example, when you have a rabid MINI fan on your hands. (NB: Are "rabid" and "MINI fan" redundant? Just wondering.) If you've got such a person on your holiday list, the MINI calendar 2010 (€21) ought to be a perfect gift. Added bonus: no cloying lavender fragrance.

Vintage 50s car treasure box by pammaro [on Etsy.com]

Vintage 50s car treasure box by pammaro [on Etsy.com]

There's a popular phrase among kids these days: "There's an Etsy for that." And if you've ever visited Etsy.com -- the Amazon.com equivalent of a craft fair -- you know that makers from around the world have designed, painted, puffed, hot glued, and embroidered a boatload of items you never thought you'd need. A quick search for "car" and "auto" reveals hundreds of stickers, magnets, and more quirky items, but our faves on the site would have to be the custom spare wheel cover (at $99, a perfect gift for the entrepreneur in your life to advertise her/his latest get-rich-quick scheme); the Corn Cozies neck warmer with hot rod theme ($20 and perfect for chilly morning commutes); and the vintage 50s treasure box (at $32, a great place for dudes of all ages to stash photos, coins, and other, um, stash).
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