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Gifts With Vroom
Shopping for a passionate car lover this holiday season? Here are ten vroom-worthy car gifts sure to accelerate excitement
Auto advertisements are, without a doubt, at their most unrealistic during the holidays. The clichéd Christmas morning TV spot usually has a gift-receiver quizzically finding a set of keys
in a tiny box, then rushing to the window and—surprise!—discovering a previously overlooked new car waiting in the driveway. Sometimes there's even an oversized bow. Probable? Not really.
Even setting aside the questionable practicality of such a stunt, gifting a new car is more than unlikely. Deciding on options, colors, and financing decisions, not to mention arranging insurance
and title, tends to cull even the strongest inclinations towards holiday whimsy. But car lovers need not despair. The holidays can still be filled with copious auto-related gifts within every budget,
from under $25 to way over $10,000.
Enthusiasts who get a rise out of practical gifts could have a lot to look forward to in particular—the old jokes about ties and sweaters notwithstanding. There's the low-cost Griffin's
iSqueez that just may very well be the easiest and least-expensive automotive retrofit in history. The $9.95 rubber iPod stand molds to fit most cup holders, all without scratching your iPod in
And though in the world of auto gifts floor mats are admittedly conservative, for the right person—especially someone who uses the car for work—water and mud-proof mats may prove the
gift that keeps on giving day to day. Edge-to-edge full-cuts like the ones made by RubberTite means mats protect the maximum amount of surface area.
Other practical gift ideas range widely. There are sophisticated electronics, like the $399 Magellan RoadMate 2000 GPS navigation system and the less expensive $149 PNI Silver Bullet Radar Detector.
Then again, there are equally useful low-tech options, like Yakima's SkyBox Pro 21, which enables travelers to carry an additional 21 cubic feet of stuff wherever they go.
Hardcore brand loyalists have it made too. That's because the world's most luxurious and exclusive auto nameplates—from Aston Martin to Lamborghini—offer branded accessories and companion
products. Such licensed products are often geared toward current owners and niche enthusiasts. They make great gifts whether you're already in the club or still saving up.
Hardcore BMW fans all hail the power-mad "M" signifier. That's because M badged versions of BMW's cars are even sportier and more powerful than the company's regular fare. True enthusiasts
can now carry that badge on their wrists with the Tourneau-made M Power Watch for $250. It features classic BMW looks, especially the precision dials.
But some brand loyalists need more than a wrist-top reminder of what's waiting for them in the garage. Enter the Ferrari & Colnago CF2 high-performance mountain bike. This is one brand extension
that proves adept at its purpose. Like the supercars, the CF2 is made of carbon and light alloys, and it has hydraulic disc brakes. Not to mention a body design worthy of the Ferrari name. Price:
Of course, there are still extravagant options for those not fazed by the dealership experience and determined to pull the ultimate surprise. Real enthusiasts will tell you that the Porsche 911
Carrera is the closest man has yet come to engineering perfection in a sports car. And that's why the 911 makes the best over-the-top, all-out car gift. The only difficulty is finding a big enough
bow. Price: $72,400.
If You're Looking for a Blind Spot Mirror for Your Car, Consider the Safer Solution.
LaneFX is not some speeding auto gadget that you'll never see again. Try it! Even with dual blind spot mirrors, you'll still have a distorted rear view LaneFX is being used by drivers everywhere:
Gear heads and mobile electronics enthusiasts. Women drivers in large minivans and SUVs. Elderly / senior drivers (check out the current LaneFX discount for all AARP members, and all drivers who
commute over 18,000 miles per year.
Why Turn Your Head Away From Traffic?
Turn your side mirror instead whenever you need to change lanes!
LaneFX is a controller that links your car's power mirrors and turn signals, and whenever you use your turn signal, it automatically moves the mirrors outwards so you can instantly see
in your blind spot. LaneFX can also be outfitted with ParkFX, which tilts both mirrors down so you can see where you're parking.
What a great idea—this beats the hell out of that "objects are closer than appear" concept which gives you a distorted view of reality in that right-side rearview mirror.
LaneFX does make two assumptions, though: that you have power mirrors in your car and that you actually use your turn signals when you're going to change lanes. You do signal when you're changing
lanes, don't you? Sale prices start below $170. What a deal! Get one in time for the holidays and have safer winter driving.
LaneFX is More Than Just a Car Gadget
Many of the latest car models include systems that alert you when a car is in your
blind spot. Those of us with older autos have had rely on our own road skills -- until now. Drivaware has introduced LaneFX: When you activate your turn signal,
the device moves the corresponding side-view mirror to expose your blind spot and any vehicles that may be hiding in it. Of course, if you remember your driver's training, a quick glance over your
shoulder does essentially the same thing. The LaneFX is compatible with any car that has power mirrors and is available in a Basic Edition ($197), Highway Edition ($242) and Commuter Edition ($296).
Are All Blind Spot Mirrors the Same?
The areas most commonly referred to as blind spots are the rear quarter blind spots, areas towards the rear of the vehicle on both sides. Vehicles in the adjacent lanes of the road may fall into
these blind spots, and a driver may be unable to see them using only the car's mirrors.
Other areas that are sometimes called blind spots are those that are too low to see behind and in front of a vehicle. Also, in cases where side vision is hindered, areas to the left or right can
become blind spots as well.
Beware of Setting Your Mirrors "Wide"
Mirror alignment is often done incorrectly by drivers. There is a tendency to want to provide context for the side mirror view by having the rear of the driver's own vehicle in the mirror frame.
When improperly aligned the side view mirrors widen the perspective offered by rear view mirror, but still not providing full coverage of the blind spot areas around SUV's, light trucks, minivans
and even commercial vans.
Even with a head-turn, the driver should continue to look forward, in the direction the car is traveling. This is accomplished by using the correct blind spot mirrors or blind
spot detection system. Exaggerated head-turns, where the driver actually faces backward for a moment to check the blind spot, are dangerous because the vehicle in front
may come to a sudden stop just at that instant resulting in a rear-end collision.
Car-Savvy Gift Ideas for Drivers & Commuters
Finding the perfect gift for your car-savvy man can be quite the challenge. Your main goal is to avoid comments like, "It's the thought that counts" and "Well, honey, at least you
tried." Besides, why waste money on goofy stuff he's just going to shelve away in the back of the garage? Face it, your guy has grown tired of the clichéd car-care gift box, or the handy
tool kit with the pretty plastic case. You know the ones — the quick and easy prepackaged arrays that are always so prominently displayed at your local discount superstore.
If you haven't a clue what kind of car-related gifts really push his buttons, have no fear. We are here to end the cycle — an automotive gift-giving "intervention." With a quick scan of
our handy-dandy top 10 car-savvy gift list, you can now buy with confidence. Not only will he be impressed with the actual gift, you'll wow him with your amazing thoughtfulness and in-depth research. That is "the
thought that counts."
1. Hitch Cover: If your guy has a receiver-type towing hitch on his vehicle, this simple add-on will guarantee a smile. Many styles are available — from sports team logos to illuminated
smiley faces. The folks at www.etrailer.com have a wide array of options. We especially like the
cobra with light-up eyes ($24.95). Take note, this gift may require some research to determine the size of the receiver hitch opening.
2. Slush Mats: Also known as heavy-duty rubber floor mats. A nice array of custom-fit mats can be found at www.weathertech.com.
Their deep grooves and rugged textures are designed to catch all sorts of grime and grunge.
3. Bacon Air Freshener: Face it — guys like bacon. Well, maybe not all guys. But if yours is a bacon-'n-eggs man, he'll get a kick out of a
bacon-shaped air freshener (set of three for $4.95) scented to " give the family "a sudden craving for a BLT." You can find this, as well as a corn-dog-scented variety, at www.mcphee.com.
4. Solar Battery Saver: Your guy will be impressed that you thought of this one. If he has a rarely driven vehicle (that sits outside exposed to sunlight), he'll love this handy device
that provides just enough juice to keep the vehicle's battery charged. We found a simple solar battery saver ($30)
at www.batterystuff.com that sits on the dashboard, and plugs right into the lighter/power outlet. Guess who'll no longer have to unhook the battery
when he's not going to be driving his car for a while, and guess who won't have to get a jump-start when he wants to go for a quick spin? You'll be a hero.
5. Vintage eBay Finds: The ultimate source of just about anything, www.ebay.com, offers a wealth of gift ideas for just about any car
nut. Here's the secret: find out your guy's favorite car-related topic. Let's say, for example, he's really into classic Mustangs. Search eBay using keywords like "rare Mustang" or "Mustang
brochure." A list of hard-to-find Mustang-related stuff will appear before your eyes. Something as simple as a $20 vintage Mustang sales brochure will knock his socks off. Note: this may not work
too well if your guy already shops for things like this on eBay himself.
6. Magnetic Tool Holder: Don't ever buy your guy any tool as a gift, unless you know of a very specific tool he wants. Your chances of buying the right brand are slim, and you
may even end up getting him something he already owns. Really, how often do you inventory his workbench? A better gift idea is something to organize the tools he already has. Craftsman offers
a handy Mag Mat ($14.99), which is essentially a strong
magnetic sheet. Tools are steel, and steel sticks to magnets. Pretty simple.
7. Nutty Key Chain: No, we're not talking about those gag key chains with tacky phrases or lewd images. We're talking real nuts (and bolts) here. This unusual item can be found
at www.uncommongoods.com. The "I'm nuts about you" key
ring ($20), replete with silver- and gold-plated nuts, is sure to be a hit.
8. Portable Navigation System: Yeah, we know — guys never get lost, so there's no need for them to ever stop for directions. So think of this as a fun gadget — not a tool to
help him find his way. Magellan offers a variety of portable GPS units sure to fit his active (or inactive) lifestyle.
9. Titanium Wallet: How many guys do you know who carry a metal wallet? Any real car guy will dig a wallet made of aircraft grade titanium and aluminum (though he may not relish
the idea of sitting on it). Brought to you by the crafty individuals at onthefly.com, the pricey Gary
Scott USA Polished Sammy Wallet ($345) will make a very unique gift.
10. Bullitt: We have saved the best for last. The 1968 movie Bullitt is the Holy Grail for many a car
guy. This legendary flick combines the coolest movie star ever, Steve McQueen, with by far the most incredible car chase scene ever caught on film. Assuming he doesn't already own it, get your man the DVD ($13.99).