December can be difficult for classic car enthusiasts separated from mechanical loved ones forced into garage hibernation, but there are presents you can put under the Christmas tree that will provide a little winter solstice solace.
The range of gifts for old-auto enthusiasts is extensive, from something as simple as a bone-china mug imprinted with their chosen marque’s picture or badge, to the day-dream-level extreme of a gift-wrapped cheque to fund a classic car purchase.
Making a gift of a classic car doesn’t have to be a bank-buster: 1950s- and 1960s-era British sports cars, such as MGs and Triumphs, and a wide assortment of American models can be had, in working condition, for less than $10,000.
Check out ads online, or in Old Autos, a Canadian antique vehicle newspaper.
In the same generous vein, you might gift the opportunity to attend one of the top Concours d’Elegance events: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, the Hilton Head Motoring Festival in South Carolina, Pebble Beach in California, The Elegance at Hershey, Penn., the Goodwood Festival in Britain or closer to home, the Cobble Beach concours in Kemble, Ont.
Classic car art to hang on a garage or office wall is available in a variety of forms, including paintings, posters, photographs, calendars and metal signs, such as “Jaguar Parking Only.” Reproduction posters and photos are widely available, but vintageautoposters.com is a good place to start if you want the real thing.
Purchasing or commissioning an original painting would be a unique gift for that enthusiast who already has everything else. Two of Canada’s best known automotive artists are Ken Dallison (kendallison.com), of Mississauga, Ont., and Jay Koka (jaykokastudio.com), of Kitchener, Ont. Doug Switzer (fineartamerica.com/profiles/douglas-switzer.html), of Georgetown, Ont., a graphic artist and vintage racer, produces interesting “blueplanprints” of the MGB Mark 2 roadster and the MGB GT, along with others, that will appeal to tech types.
Books and magazines
Classic car magazines scored straight from the rack will provide pre-dinner Christmas day reading, but a subscription – to Classic & Sports Car, Classic Land Rover, Classic Ford, Hemmings Motor News or Classic Motorsport, to name just a few, would be more appreciated.
Books, from repair manuals to the latest marque histories, can be sourced in the Toronto area from DRB Motors Inc. (transportbooks.com) or Mini Grid Inc. (minigrid.com), which also carries clothing, models and slot-car racing setups.
Videos of classic and modern cars and bikes and various forms of historic competition can be ordered from many North American sources, but Duke Video (dukevideo.com), located in the Isle of Man, offers a huge selection.
Car models are always popular and available in sophistication levels that extend from die-cast to intricately hand-built, expensive examples that are literally works of art. The Collector’s Guild (diecastbymail.ca) in Kingston, Ont., carries an extensive selection.
Clothing choices start with caps and T-shirts, and just about any classic car theme is available. An Internet search will turn up many sources, but RetroClassic Car Parts in Great Britain (retroclassiccarparts.com) has some unique T-shirts, and also offers vintage-style goggles, driving gloves, handbags, luxury leather tool cases and luggage sets sized to fit the boot of your E-Type Jag or Austin-Healey 3000. Barbour brand clothing is de rigeur gear for any early Land Rover owner, or vintage Brit biker.
Classic-car timepieces can range from marquee-imaged garage or office clocks, to expensive wristwear such as Chopard’s Mille Miglia, Breitling’s Bentley Flying B or the Mexican Panamericana-inspired TAG Heuer Carrera. Any owner of a 1950s or 1960s sports car would appreciate RundenMeister’s (rundenmeister.de) Rallye Dash Set, comprising old-style stopwatches mounted on engine-turned aluminum mounting plates, as fitted to period rally cars.
Quality hand tools and bigger, more complicated items, such as air compressors, tool chests and the like can be found at Canadian Tire, but anything in a Snap-On box will be particularly appreciated. For specialized tools and accessories – gear knobs, key fobs, aero-screens, badge bars and badges, car covers, air-horns – check out the various marque specialists. There is also an endless selection of stocking-stuffer car kitsch available online.
Off-the-shelf car care products are good for most hobby cars, but if the classic in the garage is something special and its owner treats it that way, consider ponying up for a two-pot pack of Swizol’s “Divine” wax for a mere $2,800.
And those bone-china tea mugs? They are available from a variety of sources, but nice ones can be found on eBay from R A Lawrence China and Pottery in Yorkshire, England.
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