Car guys are some of the easiest people in the world to shop for. Car guys generally have a fairly broad definition of what constitutes a cool gift. Practically anything is game if it's metal, mechanical, makes loud noises, does something interesting, recalls memories of days gone by, can help him make his ride faster or prettier or simply carries the logo of his favourite manufacturer.
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Car Part Stuff
All car guys love stuff made out of engine parts. Clocks made out of disc brakes or piston/connecting rod packages are always a winner, as are desk lamps that were once crankshafts. Steering wheel and hubcab end-tables are good bets, but make sure to get one from his favourite brand.
A Coffee Table
One classic car-guy favourite is the engine-block coffee table. These tables are simply made by placing a thick sheet of glass on top of a bare engine block, but the options are endless. Aluminium engine blocks can be polished to a beautiful shine, so buy one a few months in advance and pay a local craftsman to polish it. Some engine blocks, like the Ford Modular engine, Buick 215, BMW V8 and Chevy LS are quite intricate and beautiful when polished, making for a surprisingly elegant addition to any home. You could also have an iron engine block chrome-plated, but it won't be cheap.
Anything with Flames
The prescription here is simple: take something he likes and pay someone to put an airbrushed paint job on it. Some good ideas might be roll-around toolboxes, welding helmets, surfboards, desk lamps, bar stools, mounted fish and even electric razors.
If it makes his car faster or better and he wouldn't buy it for himself, then he'll love it. A word of caution here: gearheads are complete divas when it comes to their cars, so make sure it's something he'll like if you don't want to find it sitting in his garage six months later. Do some homework beforehand; car guys love to talk about ideas with their friends, so make some phone calls to get the skinny.
Whether you purchase them pre-assembled or in kit form, practically all car guys love models. Some of the more expensive models have a level of detailing that approaches true art and will look fantastic when displayed under the right lighting. Whether he admits it or not, every guy has some loyalty and love for some company, so anything from that company should be a safe bet. Bigger is always better.
Note: If it doesn't have (at least) visible wiring and working doors, don't buy it. The more moving parts it has, the better he'll like it: real working suspensions and steering components are good, moulded plastic undercarriages are bad. Massive bonus points for windows that roll up and down. Don't assume it has to be a model of a supercar, either; a beat up and rusted 1986 Ford Festiva will be just as cool as any new Ferrari if it's superbly detailed.
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