Gearheads — guys who spend their free time scouring Craigslist or eBay for the perfect project car, who have every copy of Road & Track or Car & Driver from the last couple decades stockpiled in the garage and have buckets of old Hot Wheels salvaged from their childhood — appreciate both the mechanical and aesthetic components of motoring. It is thus wise to eschew any pretense of getting the automotive geek in your life tacky automotive nicknacks (read: anything on the accessories rack at Autozone or Pep Boys) in favor of automotive gifts that are useful, stylish or, ideally, both.
Our picks this year run the gamut from useful automotive tech to stylish art prints and everything in between. Be it an improvement to his ride, or something to occupy his time between stints in the driver’s seat, they’re a surefire way to satisfy even the most fastidious gearhead.
Vanson x Iron and Resin Gloves
Vanson has been making ludicrously tough leather motorcycle gear since the ’70s. Now, the Massachusetts brand is bringing their expertise in protection to a new collaboration with Californian apparel brand Iron and Resin for a pair of deerskin gloves that are as stylish as they are protective.
Dunhill Silver Steering Wheel Cufflinks
Steering-wheel cufflinks may seem like a novelty item, but take note of the brand name. Dunhill has been making fine menswear for over 100 years, originally starting by making motoring apparel and accessories. To celebrate their roots, Dunhill has released these silver cufflinks — a handsome, subtle way to show off your giftee’s automotive obsession in a formal setting.
Though swanky gifts are all well and good, for the pragmatist a good gas can is a solid choice. The SureCan is simple but effective: gas flows downward from the reservoir and is controlled via a trigger, so there’s no need for tipping the canister. As a result, refueling is less cumbersome and the chances of spillage are greatly reduced.
Escort Max 360
Escort’s Max series of radar detectors are some of the best you can buy. We already lauded the Passport Max2 for its accuracy, long range and lack of false alerts. The new Max 360 is the next evolution of that model, adding directional alerts that let drivers not only see there’s a radar signal, but also lets them know what direction it’s coming from.
877 Workshop × Gear Patrol Leather & Rope Keychains
We partnered with Berlin based 877 Workshop to handcraft these keychains to hold your possessions stylishly and securely. The keychains are made of braided rope or leather, and aluminum.
Candylab Toys Classic Wooden Cars
Candylab toys is a new Brooklyn company dedicated to crafting wooden toy cars that capture the spirit and design of American cars from the 1960s. Models include a crop of muscle cars, a police cruiser, a taxi cab, a woody wagon and even an Airstream-esque camper. It’s the perfect gift for the young car lover, or the old car lover who is young at heart.
A roof rack is ideal for the driver who is also a skier, a kayaker, a DIYer, etc. But if he’s not into the idea of spending a ton of money on a car-specific rack with limited functions (or more likely messing up the roofline of his ride(s)) the Otium SoftRack is a wise choice. Essentially a set of two durable, weatherproof foam blocks, the Softrack can be strapped directly to the roof of virtually any car and will hold your gear in place without damaging your paint job.
Logitech G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel
With new video game releases like Forza 6 and Project Cars upping the ante in terms of realism, the conventional controller seems to fall a little short. Logitech’s G920 wheel helps amplify the sense of reality by offering full pedals and an optional manual gearshift, as well as realistic feedback.
GP Print: A Ferrari in Brooklyn
The Ride 2nd Gear: New Custom Motorcycles and Their Builders
The custom bike community is varied (to say the least), but universal themes of freedom, speed and art are seen in everything from chopped American cruisers to European cafe racers. The pages of The Ride 2nd Gear: New Custom Motorcycles and Their Builders are a photographic compendium of some of the finest custom bikes built, capturing them in all their svelte, two-wheeled glory.
Nardi Classic Steering Wheel
Considering you spend 100 percent of your time behind the wheel actually grabbing said wheel (we hope), purchasing a premium steering wheel is a guaranteed way to upgrade your driving experience. If you own a vintage sports car in particular, Nardi has been making some of the very best steering wheels for decades. They make a fine addition to any cockpit (or any mantel or garage wall).
FOBO Bike Wireless Tire Pressure Monitor
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) have become ubiquitous on cars and trucks, but on motorcycles — where low tire pressure could cause the most dangerous accidents — there are still relatively few. The FOBO Bike TPMS is a worthy solution. The small monitors can be attached to the stem of your motorcycle tire and will monitor pressure 24 hours a day. And if the pressure drops below a preset limit, users will immediately receive an alert via smartphone.
Off-roading is tiring work. If your giftee is the proud owner of a Jeep or a pickup truck and has a penchant for getting it dirty, the Jammock is a clever way for him to take a break and enjoy the wilderness while covering up the back of his Wrangler or the bed of his truck. What’s more, it will strap on to your vehicle in a matter of minutes without the need for tools.
The Gear Patrol Magazine
The best gift is something that the recipient wants but wouldn’t buy for himself. A basket of pears? No thanks. A trip around the world? Now you’re on to something. While we won’t be bankrolling a trip, we can get you close with Issue #1 of the Gear Patrol magazine, a journey from Wyoming to Chile to Norway (and more), plus product guides and an interview with mountaineer Conrad Anker. Seriously, put down that fruit basket.
In-car entertainment has come a long way, with perhaps the most important innovations being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Yet — few brand new cars have integrated the new tech, and you can forget about anything before 2014. One solution is adding an aftermarket head unit. The Pioneer AVH-4100NEX is arguably one of the best: it boasts both CarPlay and Android Auto (and MirrorLink) as well as HD Radio tuning and CD and DVD playback. It’s not terribly rich in features, but that makes it simple to use and keeps the price point attainable.
For the guy who has everything (except a motorcycle), the Ducati Scrambler makes an excellent choice for the gearhead cutting his teeth on two wheels. A 803cc L-twin engine provides 75 horsepower, enough to have fun but not so much that it’s overwhelming for the new rider. Couple that with retro Italian styling and an approachable price tag, and you have one of our favorite machines of 2015.
It’s always worth asking, right?
Motion Simulation TL3 Driving Simulator: If a copy of Forza and a Logitech won’t cut it, there’s always Motion Simulation’s TL3 racing simulator. One of the most advanced racing simulators around, the TL3 uses a 200-degree spherical screen, hydraulic pedals and multiple force-feedback steering wheels for the sake of realism. The TL3’s seating positions will also adjust based on the type of car being driven in the simulation: low and far back for F1 racers, more upright for stock car racing, and everything in between.
More guides and gear to fill out your list
Motorcycle Gear That Doesn’t Compromise on Style
Motorcycling gear has a tendency to either be protective but woefully uncool, or good-looking but unfit for saving your skin. These selections, however, get the balance between safety and style quite nicely.
The Pillars of a Racing Wardrobe
Rally racing gear should fit the car, the driver and the conditions. With that in mind, these are the best gloves, shoes and suits for racers at all levels that offer the protection and ergonomics needed for lightning-quick times.