Cars

A few gift suggestions for the gearhead in your life

Okay, we can assume that if you're reading this, you have survived Black Friday shopping and Turkey Day gobbling. But that means it's time to get serious about holiday shopping.

As a service to gearheads and those who must figure out what to buy them, gift-wise, here are a couple or four suggestions:

* Car books are a safe bet, especially for those of us who don't have heated garages.

On my current reading list is Jim Wangers' "Glory Days — When horsepower and passion ruled Detroit," an ode to the fabulous Pontiac GTO. You can find it at www.bentleypublishers.com.

I also recommend three selections from www.motorbooks.com, starting with Ken Gross' beautifully illustrated "Art of the Hot Rod," with photos by Peter Harholdt. Then there's "Old School Customs" by Alan Mayes, another great period piece for those cold February nights by the fireplace.

Finally, a recently published MotorBooks offering I wasn't so sure about — until I got into it. If you have a driver on your gift list who isn't exactly mechanically inclined, a perfect primer is Tom Torbjornsen's "How to Make Your Car Last Forever." It describes in layman's terms how your modern automobile is put together and works, and how to take care of it, including simple maintenance tasks anyone can handle and when it's best to let the experts take over.

Check for books like these at your local automotive specialty shops first; if they don't have them, they may be able to order them for you, or if you're a die-hard Internet shopper, try the publishers' websites.

* My other suggestion for cool gifts is "found items" — you know, that stuff you acquired at an auction or garage sale as part of a box full of "junk" surrounding the one piece you really wanted.

By way of example, check out my cool, working, rotary phone. Or how about the hefty diecast "Ray Subtracto-Adder" with seven mechanical wheels?

I'm still looking for the right-size clock to install in the classic 1950s Oldsmobile hood emblem pictured here. I don't remember what possessed me to buy the antique Arcade nickel-plated nutcracker mounted on a wooden base, but it has a cool rack-and-pinion operating system.

Maybe it was because all these things are old, innovative and built to last. In any case, they make great office decorations and can often be had for a couple of bucks (cheap gifts).

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