I’m making this guide with the intent for it to stand for any occasion/gender/year as car gift items that I find useful and use often myself. I’ll probably simply continuously update it as I find things interesting myself, perhaps publishing future articles around holidays simply to point it out again. With that, onward! Some of these I have amazon affiliate links for and I thank you for your support should you purchase anything through them. Others you will have to get from vendor pages or other sources.
GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition
The current latest GoPro – lots of models available, and really, they are all great. But the Hero 4 Black is simply top notch – it’s the only GoPro at the moment that does 4k at 30 fps, and it really looks amazing. Even if it’s editing down to 1080p or displayed on a 1080p screen, the detail is still incredible. No surprise here. In most any mode below 4k, it can also record at 60 fps or higher – allowing for slow motion or very good capture of high speed movement.
RAM Mount GoPro mount
Although the GoPro mounts are pretty good on their own, more flexible and nicer to use are those of the RAM mount system. There’s a ton of stuff, and a lot of cool solutions and mounts can be constructed for attaching to virtually anything. Cars, helmets, handlebars, roll bars, outside, inside, etc. These are a great solution for mounting cell phones as well.
Micover Stickover Windscreen for GoPro
Mount your GoPro and move quickly and you’re going to get a lot of wind noise. These do a good job of disrupting wind flow and noise. However, note that the GoPro mic will pick up whatever it hears, and if it hears not much besides wind, you’ll still end up with mostly wind noise. There is a mild improvement in applying this to the camera housing and mounting the camera on the roof of a car, but a very large improvement when mounting the camera somewhere else that it can pick up more noises. Mounting on the side near a front wheel for example it will be able to pick up both engine noise and tire squeal, and the micover has a great effect on improving audio then.
DOD TECH LS460W Sony Exmor Powered Full HD Dash Camera Dashcam with GPS
Dashcams are great for capturing crazy road events in Russia, but what about crazy road events here? Nice to have in the case of an accident or something else interesting going on. Not really a replacement for a GoPro as far as capturing an enthusiast event though if you’re really looking for good stuff.
AIM Solo DL Kit for Stock Cars w/Stock ECU OBDII
This is for if you really like someone! There is a GPS only lap time for about $400 offered by AIM as well – this unit does that plus has OBD2 connectivity to monitor all sorts of metrics going on from the car’s computer port. IMHO, well worth it. Most channels are recorded in 10 hz. Serious analysis can be done with data like this, or if you’re like me, mostly a bunch of smooth renderings of data onto videos you make… see some of my car videos for examples, most have it.
GoPoint Technology 9105 BT1
Although phones can record GPS, they can’t capture OBD2 data without some help. If not going all out on the Solo above, pair your phone with a bluetooth OBD2 reader to get some data channels. Note the phone’s clock app (I think usually driven by GPS sampling) drives the frequency sampled. Bluetooth bandwidth limitations on the number of channels and frequency of sampling likely limits you to a small subset of the channels available vs. the Solo; I have not used a collection method like this, but in the past the most channels I recorded was 4. (RPM, oil temp, etc.) You can find cheaper models, although I am linking to one that pairs with a regular iphone. One that is jailbroken, or android devices, have a lot more devices open up to them.
Qstarz BT-Q818X Bluetooth 5hz 10hz GPS Receiver Antenna
Phones only record at 1hz, which is not very good data for analysis nor is it that great for video rendering either. The data is very slow and chunky; 5 is the minimum to be good and usable for anything, which is why these devices are a nice upgrade. This is a nice reliable bluetooth GPS antenna. The only drawback with using a phone + bluetooth OBD2 + bluetooth wireless antenna is you have a lot of parts to juggle, charge, turn on, synch with, etc. in comparison to the Solo – however it is a hell of a lot cheaper. The switch setting can be set with firmware – to either go to 5 hz or 10 hz GPS. 10 hz will use the battery more quickly. In my experience, older antennas seemed to be less accurate/more noisy at 10 hz, although this may be better these days. This puck gives you the ability to set the option anyway, which is nice. Unlike the OBD2 reader above, this one is not iphone approved – last I checked there were only two that were, and the one I bought broke the first day I tried using it. Since I have used Qstarz products and known them to be good, this one is getting the listing here.
Garmin Virb Elite Action Camera
Hey, this is a camera, why is it under data acquisition!? The GoPro 4 does not do data – I am sure a GoPro 5 will given that they just bought out the development team that made the software I use to render data onto video (Dashware). The Sony Action Cam and the Garmin Virb Elite however both do (1 hz) data. The GoPro and Sony may fight a bit on picture quality, the Garmin certainly does not in this model – but it is pretty nice for the purpose of an easy capture mode (one button slide), reasonably long lasting battery (1080p30 max), and does capture data. Nice to have if the other methods don’t work – which is why I use this camera for karting, attached to my helmet. Note some things in the data can be a little off given that it is attached to your moving head rather than something fixed like the kart, but it works pretty good at collecting data you otherwise may not be able to. I used it for the data in the Formula 3000 and the data and rear video for the karts at Yas Marina.
Oil – is this kind of a lame gift? I don’t know, maybe. It sure is a useful one though, especially for anyone that goes through a lot of it. Since most car enthusiasts are quite partial to what they use, I would check with them for exactly what they use first (or sneak a peek in the garage.)
Brakes – depending on the type of car enthusiast, these good be a pretty big wear item. Particularly for those that do track days. I won’t offer up my preference here but it’s likely something an enthusiast who actually really uses brakes has a preference for.
Motul 847205 RBF 660 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid
High temperature racing brake fluid – only really necessary for those who run track days. A welcome item to be sure! This is good stuff.
Fumoto Oil Drain Valve
These are great, I buy one for every car immediately after buying the car. I’ve been using these for over 10 years now. Makes changing your oil much simpler! Some people worry about clearance – most of my cars are pretty low and I track them also – never had a problem with clearance, scrapes, leaks, etc. Love these. Threads are specific to each car so make sure you order the right one.
TireRack Gift Certificate – hard to go wrong here – lots of good stuff, and, of course, tires.
Kimberly-Clark 75190 Scott Shop Towels
Nice box of shop towels for working with oil and other fluids.
WeatherTech Custom Digital Fit Front Floormats
Aside from the oil valve above, these are the other things I immediately buy with a new car. These floormats fit great and are very durable. I originally bought them for just the winter, but now I leave them in year round. Why not? Practically a must for salty snowy yucky Chicago winters. Nothing but praise for these, seriously, anyone would be happy to receive them. They are custom fit applications for each car, so be sure to find the right year/model for your gift. I guarantee the recipient will love them!
Nice throwaway gloves to keep your hands clean while working on your car. I generally prefer these to mechanic’s gloves.
RZ-35 White SNELL SA2015 Auto Racing Helmet
You’ll want to get some help here for fitment and style, but this looks like a pretty nice helmet to me. It has some cooling features, the padding is removable to wash, and it’s the latest safety ratings with Snell SA2015 certification meaning it should be good for 10 years through 2025. It’s a pretty reasonably price as well – definitely worth a look.
Momo R527 BN12 Pro Racer Club Blue/Black Size 12 Gloves
You’ll need some help for sizing on these; I imagine most people run size 10 or 11. I don’t personally use these for cars but I do for karts.
Valentine One Radar Detector
Arguably the best radar detector out there.
BlendMount Better By Design Radar Detector Mount for Valentine One
This is a great firm no nonsense mount for the V1. Options available for other detectors as well. Works great.
Logitech G29 Driving Force Race Wheel
This (or the 920 for Xbox One) is a great racing wheel and set of pedals for any gamer! The G29 is for PS4 and PC.
Driving Experiences – DirtFish Rally School, Bondurant, Xtreme Xperience, local track days with local clubs (some have gift certificates) – there’s a lot of good driving experiences, using your car or theirs, to try out. Generally these are $150 and up.
Clothing – Blipshift has an ever changing inventory of cool car enthusiast apparel.
Books – Ultimate Speed Secrets, Going Faster!, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
Movies – Rush, Senna, Ronin, Love The Beast, The Transporter.
Meguiar’s A3332 Quik Detailer Mist & Wipe – 32 oz
Quick detailer to quickly spray and wipe clean surfces.
AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Towels – 48 Pack
Nice package of cheap microfiber towels for cleaning.
Flash Brown Royal Non-Acid Wheel & Tire Cleaner 32oz
This is a pretty good medium-heavy duty wheel cleaner, great to have for more stubborn brake pad material from more aggressive brake pad compounds.
Wheel Wax Ultimate Protection For Your Wheels
Wheel wax – nice to have and apply to your wheels after a wash to keep any debris that lands on the surface easier to remove. Definitely a nice defense against some of the more harsh track brake pad compounds as well, or general driving as well of course. Wouldn’t try on matte finish / porous / rough to the touch wheels though.
Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum
A good shop vac for cleaning up the car and messes.
TireTek Flexi-Pro Tire Pressure Gauge, Heavy Duty Car & Motorcycle – 60 PSI
A nice tire pressure gauge. No batteries, easy to maneuver, rubber to protect it, nice all around.
Thanks, Mike. Tire pressure gauge looks awesome. I’m a goofy hypermiler, so these things are important to me.
I second the vote for the laser fit weather tech mats. Seems like they will help residual value of the vehicle as well.