It’s that time of year again. No sooner have we all gorged ourselves on day-after-Halloween-sale candy—or liberated some from our kids’ own hauls—do the trees start appearing in department stores. You can’t escape the sounds of “Last Christmas” in the mall. It’s holiday season.
The final two months of the year are a great time to celebrate with friends and family. They can be stressful too, especially when it comes to buying gifts for the more car-obsessed folks you know. That’s exactly why we’ve crafted the AutoGuide.com 2019 Holiday Gift Guide. To paraphrase Sy Spearling: we’re not only the writers of this gearhead gift guide… we’re also gearheads!
Whether you’re buying for a seven-year-old who’s just starting down the path or a 77-year-old vehicle veteran, we’ve covered the spectrum. The guide includes smaller stocking-stuffer ideas as well as bigger ticket items.
Read on for the coolest automotive-themed gifts this holiday season.
Of course it was going to start with Hot Wheels. You knew it, we knew it. That’s because the little diecast models are evergreen options for the car lover(s) in your life. Hot Wheels are one of the first automotive touchstones for kids, teaching them about the broad four-wheeled landscape. As adults, they’re cheap reminders of our passion: perfect for the desk at work or your office at home.
Hot Wheels are a comforting mainstay in an otherwise turbulent auto industry. They’re still roughly the same price, they’re still the same size, and they still have the same level of detail. Finding that familiar flame logo in the stocking on Christmas Day will set a great tone for gearheads young and old.
Ford Bronco License Plate
Ford is going all-out in preparation for the 2020 launch of the Bronco. Want proof? There’s an entire Amazon.com store dedicated to the nameplate.
We’ve peppered the list with a handful of items from the digital Bronco pop-up, starting with this license plate. It’s simple, with the weathered look all too appropriate for the go-anywhere SUV. License plates are a staple of any garage decor, and this one adds a touch of well-worn patina.
LEGO Speed Champions Cars
We could populate this entire list with LEGO. Actually, this is only the first of a few appearances for the famous Danish bricks. We start at the budget-friendly end of the lineup, one that’s also easy for younger folks to build.
Solo cars ring up at less than $20. You have the option of bigger sets to, like the sweet Challenger duo pictured here. Just like the real Demon, the LEGO-ized version comes with a single seat as standard. How’s that for realism?
Automotive Branded Hat
Ah, the humble baseball cap. Its benefits are two-fold: it keeps your noggin out of the sun, and announces your allegiances with more subtlety than a bright red jacket.
Naturally, there are hundreds of options here for the gearhead on your list. Manufacturers, specific models, racing series, racing teams—you name it, there’s probably one out there. Really: there’s even a Lada hat for those so inclined.
Tesla Cybertruck Ugly Christmas Sweater
Just in case the Tesla Cybertruck didn’t dominate the Thanksgiving dinner table discussion, here’s an ugly Christmas sweater with the latest Musk-mobile. Sure, deposits for the angular hauler are only $100, but this is even less. Plus, you’re guaranteed to have a few years’ worth of wears before the Cybertruck is out. Just like the real deal, however, we wouldn’t recommend throwing a metal ball at this…
Cybertruck Tree-Hauling Ugly Christmas Sweater
Maybe the previous Cybertruck sweater wasn’t your style. That’s alright, there’s this one, complete with a tree strapped to the truck. We’ll admit this one takes some… creative license, morphing the Cybertruck’s proportions into something more akin to Batman’s Tumbler. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Meguiar's Complete Car Care Kit
In a few months, when the winter grime has subsided, the gearhead’s car will need a solid clean. Now they could take it somewhere and have it done by someone else, but there’s something extra satisfying about giving your prized possession the full treatment on the first nice day of the year. For that, we recommend the Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit. This 12-piece pack includes everything they need to get positively obsessive about their car’s looks. There’s car wax and tire gel to keep ’em both shiny, clay bars to remove the more stubborn blemishes, microfiber glove and towel, and more.
Classic Ford Bronco Hoodie
More Bronco goodness here, and this time you can wear it! Well, not that you couldn’t technically wear a license plate—we just don’t recommend it.
This comfy-looking hoodie shows off the iconic ’80s-era two-door Bronco. There are options for that gearhead on your list too, since the hoodie comes in either gray or blue hues. You can get this particular Bronco design emblazoned on a tee or tank too, but like Henry Ford said, you can have any color so long as it’s bright yellow…
Forza Horizon 4 (with LEGO Speed Champions)
As kids, we struggled with the decision of which to play with first on Christmas Day: our new LEGO sets or our new video games. Kids in 2019 don’t have to worry about that, though *shakes fist*.
Forza Horizon 4 is the latest installment in the open-world racing franchise. Players have a Greatest Hits version of Britain to explore, and over 400 cars to do it in. This past summer an island appeared off-shore as DLC, an island entirely populated by the blocks.
It’s the LEGO content that sets FH4 from the crowd, offering a beloved brand that appeals to all ages. The handling model has added grip over its more sim-oriented Motorsport siblings, making it easy for youngsters to learn. There’s enough meat on the bones to make it tough to master, however.
Don’t pass up its predecessor, Forza Horizon 3, either. That one has its own popular toy DLC: none other than Hot Wheels.
DiRT Rally 2.0
Want something a little more challenging than Forza? Strap in for DiRT Rally 2.0.
Rally racing is the most difficult, most impressive motorsport out there. Someone might tell you otherwise: they’re wrong. DR2 nails the experience with every one of its gruelling stages, punishing players for each and every one of their mistakes.
And yet, that’s what keeps us coming back since the game launched in February 2019. That steep learning curve makes a clean run through a rainy Poland stage all the more satisfying.
DiRT Rally 2.0 features over 50 cars, from classics rally icons to modern GT4-class race cars. Six rally locations and eight rallycross circuits are available out of the box.
Remember when you were a kid and you played the same game for days at a time, until the only thing left to do was to find increasingly elaborate ways to play with the game’s physics and destroy stuff? The people who made WreckFest do.
WreckFest will allow you to answer life’s great questions: How many motorized couches are required to take down a school bus? Can a stretch limo loop the loop? Is running traffic in two directions on an oval a good idea?
Best of all, a great physics engine underpins this game’s silly, destructive surface. With fun, arcadey racing punctuated by explosive crashes, WreckFest is top to bottom fun that works for everyone from sim racers to people who don’t know their Mustangs from their McLarens.
Automotive Branded Duffel Bag
Like the branded cap, a duffle bag is a great accent piece for an automotive-minded friend or family member. Whether it matches the badge in their driveway or is a team they cheer for, it’ll bring a smile to their face.
The uber-successful Mercedes-AMG Petronas team is our travel bag example, but there are plenty of other options out there. Maybe this red-and-black leather Corvette item is the right choice. We’re even low-key fans of this unlikely yellow Ferrari option.
Automotive Themed Book
There are hundreds out there. We’ve highlighted Go Like Hell, A.J. Baime’s inimitable story on the famous Ford-versus-Ferrari battle at Le Mans. You know, the one that was turned into the critically-acclaimed Ford v Ferrari in theaters this season. If the gearhead in your life hasn’t already read it, Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving is a timeless tome on performance driving. The automotive world lends itself to coffee table books too: we’re partial to 90 Years of Nürburgring. All hail the Green Hell!
Goodyear Driving Shoes
For some folks, having the right set of shoes for a spirited drive is as important as the car itself. Or at the very least, the tires on said car. And who are we to argue? We’ve expounded the virtue of the right tires for the job many times.
It seems wholly appropriate then that Goodyear has produced these driving kicks. Made of PU leather, these high-top sneakers feature ankle support and a high-grip sole for top pedal work. Naturally the sole is patterned after a tire tread.
We’re suckers for the white, especially with the red detailing. Red racing stripes are always faster, after all. The “Clutch” shoe is available in a more low-key black as well.
For as long as we can remember, watches and cars have been inextricably tied together. McQueen and (TAG Heuer) Monaco. Bentley and Breitling. Daytona and, er, the Rolex Daytona.
Thankfully you can mimic the style without needing to drop the four figures (or more) for any of the icons. The evergreen Citizen CA0649 Eco-Drive is a popular choice, thanks to its reasonable 44mm case size, pronounced crown, and timeless color scheme. The Citizen even goes the extra mile on the hunt for weight reduction with a perforated leather strap.
A more overtly sporting watch is the Casio Edifice. Coming complete with a carbon fiber dial, this solar-powered watch even has Bluetooth functionality, letting wearers set the time from their phone as well as record lap times. An essential track day companion, this.
If a more aviation-inspired watch is on your watch list, check out the Hawker Hunter. This green timepiece from British company AVI-8—get it?—draws inspiration from military fighter jets. Like the Casio, the Hawker Hunter has plenty of layers to its dial design, making for a strong statement piece. The thick leather bands typical of the brand should also give it a long life.
AutoArt 1:18 Scale Diecast Car Model
These might be model cars, but they ain’t no toys.
As the name implies, AutoArt creates utterly beautiful shrunken-down versions of automotive icons. The details are exceptional, with moving parts and fully realized interiors. AutoArt has stuck to metal construction in the face of the ever more popular resin approach, allowing for this sort of interactivity.
The lucky receiver of an AutoArt model will certainly want to display it. It makes a great statement in an office or entertainment room.
We’re showing off the Corvette C7.R here (RIP), but there’s a whole selection of road and race cars in the AutoArt stable.
Diecast cars are great, but they’re missing one important aspect: a sense of accomplishment. Step forward again, LEGO.
LEGO Technic sets are for serious builders. They incorporate thousands of pieces, though the end result can be remarkably close to the real thing, as the Bugatti Chiron above proves. And hey, $300 or thereabouts is a relative steal for Molsheim’s ultra-rare hypercar, right?
The great thing about the Technic sets is they can work as a gift for old and young people on your shopping list, together. Father and son building a car is quality bonding time, whether it’s in a garage or on the living room floor. Just make sure all the leftover bricks are cleaned up before you walk through…
Traxxas TRX-4 1/10-Scale Ford Bronco RC Car
Look at this glorious machine. RC cars are guaranteed fun for all ages, and there’s something even more fun about those that can handle going off-road. This large (1/10-scale) classic Ford Bronco is arguably better equipped for rock-climbing than some actual crossovers, thanks to portal axles, locking differentials, and even a high/low transfer case.
Okay, it isn’t cheap, but the spec sheet explains why. And besides, the liberal use of chrome and that sweet Sunset decal set is peak ’80s, otherwise known as the coolest decade.
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