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Driving Miss Kringle

Last Minute Gift Guide

1979 Plymouth Volare, current bid $3,500

There's Still Time

Really? You’re still shopping for that car-driver on your list? Well, I could make it easy here, and satisfy a lot of my friends in the car business, by just telling you to break out the checkbook and buy that special someone a new car. There’s still time, you know. But even I wouldn’t do that. No, there are cheaper—scratch that—less expensive alternatives out there that you can still have under the tree in time.

Collapsible Snow Shovel, $14.48
Sony Audio System, $130

Like a shovel. Yes, a shovel. Not just any shovel, but a collapsible snow shovel to keep in the trunk. I’ve seen these things advertised on the internet for as much as $92, but Home Depot sells a perfectly good one (I know because we have one in each of our cars at home) for a mere $14.48. It might not be the sexiest gift you’ve ever given, but it might end up being the handiest some day soon.

A bit higher on the excitement scale is a new car audio system. Again, you could spend hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars on a top-notch bells-and-whistles system. But why would you? A couple of years ago I motored over to my neighborhood car audio store, and for about $130 had a nifty Sony am/fm/CD/mp3 player installed right into the space formerly occupied by the YAKmobile’s factory radio. The speakers were in fine shape so there was no point in replacing them, which helped keep the cost down. When shopping, for safety’s sake look for a unit that’s not too complicated to fiddle with while you’re driving. You want something with not too many buttons, and make sure that the buttons are far enough apart to operate by touch.

Remember the days when the romantic (or, when you come right down to it, cheap) gift to give someone was a personalized mix tape? With modern technology you can do it one better by burning a mix CD of tunes which you really like, also sometimes known as tunes that drive other people crazy, but oh well! The great thing about the newer car audio systems is their ability to play mp3 files. Done correctly, you can get over five hours of music on one CD. If you’re using iTunes, go to File>Burn Playlist to Disk, and click on the “MP3 CD” button.

What does everyone on your list of car-drivers need day-after-day? Fuel! And any gas station worth its salt sells gift cards these days. If you’re the type who likes to shop local, NOCO Energy sell cards in denominations from $5 to $100, which are good not only for gas but for anything in the NOCO Express Shop. Some of them have even have in-store Tim Hortons, Charlie the Butcher, Just Pizza, and Nickel City Cafe counters right inside. The good thing about a gift card? One size fits all.

All right, I know someone out there is still itching to buy a car after reading the opening paragraph up there, so here’s my suggestion: Find something really different on eBay. Write a check. Bring a huge grin to someone’s face. As I write this, my choice would be this nifty 1979 Plymouth Volare station wagon. Slant six engine, automatic, am/fm radio, whitewalls—the current bid is $3,500 and I’m sure it will go higher, but if you were to win, it’s only in Cleveland so you could probably drive it home. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a cassette or CD player installed, otherwise you could put Dean Martin’s version of “Volare” on a loop and listen to it all the way home!

So there you go. Some great suggestions for last-minute shopping. And here’s wishing you all the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays, and the best New Year ever from the YAK staff (me)!

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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