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Fast Cars and Faster Gifts

"Phil's Drive-In" fabric available at Elmwood Village Fabrics
Automoblox sedan

You Auto Know's last-minute gift guide for drivers and the people who love them

First, let’s get the obvious gift suggestion out of the way. Someone you know and love wants a new car. Here are my down-and-dirty quick picks: VW GTI, Ford Fiesta hatchback, Mazda MX5. And if you simply must have more room, a Dodge Caravan should work for anybody. Okay. Now for some car-related gifts that you might actually buy.

A great stocking-stuffer would be a gift card from Elmwood Taco & Subs (937 Elmwood Avenue). What? That’s not a car-related gift, you say? Hah! Did you forget they have a drive-thru window? You can eat in your car. Make sure, whatever else you order, to get the waffle fries. They’re crispy, yummy, and the perfect finger food as you meander down Elmwood Avenue.

While you’re in the neighborhood, trot across the street to Elmwood Village Fabrics (982 Elmwood Avenue). You read that right. A couple of years ago my wife made me a set of curtains for my home office out of a fabric with a cartoonish car and truck motif. Sandy now has in stock a fabric called “Phil’s Drive-In,” featuring old hot rods, drive-in restaurants, and leggy car-hops. (Seamstress not included.)

"Interstate 69: The Unfinished History" by Matt Dellinger

If you like cars, odds are you also like driving. How many times have you wished for a quicker route from here to Florida? Well, that’s what planners have in mind for our own Route 219, which will probably never be finished in our lifetime. But we’re not the only locale looking for a quick trip down south. In his book, Interstate 69: The Unfinished History, author Matt Dellinger explores the story behind the unfinished corridor which might someday run from Canada to Mexico straight down from Michigan to Texas. Just like the folks around here, there are activists pro and con who have been fighting over the 69 for over 20 years. So, go ahead, read it and commiserate.

Or there’s P. J. O’Rourke’s book Driving Like Crazy, in which the humorist and sometime automobile magazine columnist mixes old essays on personal road trips, race-track weekends, and other automotive observations with newer material on today’s automotive landscape. Both books are available at Talking Leaves (951 Elmwood Avenue and 3158 Main Street).

All of that driving around is bound to make a mess of your car. Especially at this time of year. So why not gift someone the gift you wouldn’t mind if they re-gifted you back: a set of car wash coupons from Delta Sonic (various locations). For a mere 25 bucks you can get three basic washes and a dinner for two at Applebee’s, conveniently located almost next door to the Delaware Avenue location. If you’re feeling generous you can up the ante to deluxe washes or— what the heck, it’s Christmas—go all the way and splurge for the Super Kiss with a two-week, re-wash-twice guarantee.

Personally, there’s nothing more gratifying than the face of a kid who has just gotten a really cool gift. Kind of like my face probably looked as I roamed the aisles of the TreeHouse Toy Store (793 Elmwood Avenue) and came across Bruder’s Mack Garbage Truck. This thing looks real; all it was missing was the smell! Bruder is a German toymaker with a premium line of commercial and farm vehicles, which aren’t exactly cheap, but they look great. The Mack goes for 75 bucks, but it’ll probably last a lifetime. For the younger set, Automoblox has a neat set of wooden/plastic vehicles which the child can assemble him/herself. Not only does it give them a sense of accomplishment, but in the end they’re got a really cool-looking car/truck/SUV to play with, one that should last and last, made from high-quality materials.

If you’re still stuck for that automotive-related gift, a subscription to one or more of my favorite magazines might be in order: Hemming’s Classic Car, Hemming’s Sports and Exotic Car, Collectible Automobile, Automobile, or, if you know someone who’s into snarky writing, Car and Driver. Find subscription info for any of these online.

Good luck, and a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the You Auto Know readers!

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