Over the years, I have gotten some great holiday gifts of the gearhead variety. A number of these were great because I got them for myself, but many were not of my own doing. I have also received some not so great ones. The january club gatherings are often filled with tales of wonder and of despair centered around holiday gifts, and friends have shared their stories as well. I have compiled a few of the more memorable ones here so that you can see how many you recognize.
A set of stepped drill bits. I actually received this many years ago when they were not found in every Home Depot and Lowes. At the time it was one of the most fantastic additions to the toolbox ever, and unlike today, they were probably not cheap. The surprise of opening a present to find something cool that you really need is exciting and childlike. I immediately made holes of various sizes in everything I could find. What are we gearheads if not large children ?
A gift certificate to Pelican Parts. Substitute your favorite parts/farkle house, and you know that this is a great gift. You are certain to get something you need, but don't be afraid to jump to something you want. The horn button for the rusty chassis you call a project car, for instance, can embody the hope present in this holiday season.
The Harley Davidson Century. Sometimes, friends don't really understand which area of the hobby you are passionate about. Or, they have so little knowledge, that everything is lumped together. A friend received this tome of mostly text with a few pictures for a marque that he has no interest in. The well-meaning gifter just knew that he liked motorcycles. Buying gearhead gifts is like buying clothes for someone; if you don't know their taste intimately, just stay away from that category, or get the gift certificate.
Racing School. Another gift that a friend received. This was a brilliant and gift from a tuned in spouse. Not inexpensive, but hey, you're worth it. If you are not worth it (and you know who you are), a track day is a good substitute.
Long Way Down : Long Way Round DVD box set. This is often pooh-poohed as the rich man's version of adventure riding with a full support crew, etc, but it is lengthy, and genuinely entertaining in parts. When there is snow up above your window sills as it was last year in the northeast, it's great stuff. The best part is that DVDs of this type inspire you to break out the atlas and plan your own unsupported no-camera-crew adventure into a neighboring state.
Coveralls. My short stint as a german car mechanic's apprentice for two summers in college left me with a lot of knowledge, and a set of VW coveralls. Over time they have shrunken (particularly around the waist), so they got little use, and I began ruining various other clothing. A set of sears non-descript coveralls gets frequent use and allows me to slip james-bond-like out of them to reveal a perfectly tailored white tuxedo for the holiday party.
Monterey Historics Vacation. Another friend with a great spouse. A week of vacation centered around the Monterey Historics week. In the northern climes where the snow and salt flies, nothing says love hope and joy like a week in southern california.
Cologne/After Shave. The good news is that this came in a bottle which was shaped like a Morgan Plus 4. It was a very good likeness, and the trunk-mounted spare wheel was the cap. Very nice. The bad news is that it smelled like the exhaust of a Morgan Plus 4 that needed rebuilding. I used the contents to wash the sludge off some old zenith carbs, and kept the bottle. Just because you are a gearhead, doesn't mean that you want your breakfast cereal to have an automotive theme. Then again, some of us do...
Porsche Cufflinks. Substitute your marque, and I'm sure they exist. For a fan of the marque, this is a nice gift providing you have shirts that need cufflinks. They can be shown off at the car club holiday party. If not, they are the perfect re-gifting item for one of your buddies who also never wears cufflinks. He in turn will re-gift them, and you can eventually win a recycling award that tops the one you received for restoring that rusting chassis you call a project car.
A Project Bike. Ok, so this is an unlikely gift to come from someone else, but you've earned it. Whether it's a rusting frame ready for a ground-up resto, or a nicer example needing some less extensive work, the promise of lots of work to come is a gift that few people other than vintage gearheads can get excited about.
Time. The most thoughtful gift of all. Time to fully research your current project, time to attend the national gathering of your favorite marque, time to swap lies with your buddies, time to research your next project, time in the garage, time to take the back roads, time to take an interesting detour, time on the track, time to indulge your passion.