This story was originally published in the Los Angeles Times brand publishing special section Ultimate Drive.
Spring brings many opportunities for memorable gift-giving: Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, weddings, showers and more. Chances are you know a car lover who deserves a great gift. If you don't know a boot from a bonnet when it comes to cars, don't worry. We've done the research for you! Here are 7 gift ideas for the automobile aficionado in your life.
A dashboard camera is not just for recording accidents. It also can help prevent them, which makes it a thoughtful gift. The Thinkware X500 is a midpriced camera that records at full HD 1080p quality, with a built-in GPS antenna for embedding speed, time and location data. It can warn you of nearby traffic cameras, and when your car has drifted out of your lane. Unlike some other dashcams. this one has a 2.7-inch LCD viewfinder, so you can instantly view the video you just recorded. Priced at about $195 on Amazon.com (about $264 if you want the front- and rear-view camera duo).
2. Performance Driving School
Know a driver who has a need for speed? BMW offers an intense performance driving experience using their powerful M series vehicles. Students learn to regain stability (drift), accelerate, brake and corner around a race track at high speeds in a variety of conditions. While the one- and two-day MSchools are held at the BMW Performance Driving Schools, the Advanced MSchool is held at a variety of race tracks around the country. On the East Coast, the Advanced MSchool is held at the legendary Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, and the Road Atlanta tracks, just north of Braselton, Georgia. On the West Coast, courses are held at BMW Performance Center West and feature two full track days on the Thermal Club's private pavement, located just 20 minutes outside the Greater Palm Springs, California, area. Most of the two-day MSchool and Advanced MSchool courses include hotel, meals, transportation and of course the Ultimate Driving Experience. Prices range from $1,550 to $4,995. Visit bmwusa.com/pds or call 888-345-4BMW for pricing.
3. Luxury Sports Watch
Sports cars and luxury watches have long been linked. Many high-end watchmakers have special models related to specific cars, races and automakers such as Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bugatti and more. As you can guess, some of these timepieces (or "chronographs") can cost as much as a car, but they look like a million bucks. One of the more "affordable" options is inspired by the 1963 Shelby Cobra. The watch is part of the Capeland Shelby Cobra 1963 Limited Edition collection by Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier. The non-gold version comes with a stainless steel case and two-toned calfskin band, mimicking the classic race car. with just as many precision features. It's currently $4,450 at baume-et-mercier.com.
4. Logo Gear
Most car lovers have a make and model they love, so why not let them wear it on their sleeve? Most automakers offer an array of gear, from duffel bags to caps to cellphone cases, emblazoned with their logo. Brand-name gear is the way to go if you're looking for an inexpensive gift that shows you went the extra mile. Search the company website, or visit a dealership. For example, BMW offers genuine black leather driving gloves for $40 at shopbmwusa.com.
5. Action Camera
Know a driver who's into track days or off-road events? Go Pro makes professional-quality camera systems for capturing fast-moving outdoor activities. The GoPro Hero4 line is recommended for racing. It allows drivers to automatically record their experience in super high-def from inside or outside their vehicle. This combination video and still shot camera is compact and waterproof, mountable, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. It shoots 4K Ultra HD video at 240 frames per second, which can render super smooth slow-mo.GoPro's Hero4 camera ranges in price from $199 to $499, depending on desired features. Visit shop.gopro.com.
6. Bluetooth Tire Pressure Monitor
Buying for a car guy or gal who already has everything? They probably don't have a FOBO Tire. which is not a tire but a high-tech tire pressure monitoring system. Simply remove the air valve caps and replace them with the FOBO Tire caps. Install the small sending unit in the car, and download the app to a smartphone. Users can continuously monitor the tire pressure on their car, or cars. remotely from multiple devices. FOBO Tire also works if you don't have a smartphone because the in-car unit monitors tire pressure and sends out alerts if tires get low. FOBO Tire currently comes in black or silver and sells for $179 at fobotire.com.
7. The Ultimate Coffee Table Book
If you knew there was an $800 coffee table book about cars, wouldn't you want to take it for a spin? "The Impossible Collection of Cars" (Assouline, 2011) showcases the 100 most exceptional cars of the 20th century in an eye-popping, 14-by-17-inch, 168-page book. Each luxury automobile, from the 1909 Blitzen Benz to a 1997 Porsche 993 Turbo S, was chosen for its revolutionary design, magnificent lines and head-turning capabilities. The book also features cars owned by celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso and Elvis Presley. The book is presented on cotton paper in a beautiful black rubber clamshell box with a cutout metal plate. There is also a motorcycle version called, you guessed it, "The Impossible Collection of Motorcycles." Currently, each is priced at$845 at assouline.com.