What’s the best auto-related gift you ever got for Christmas?
We posed that question to some of our staff members and contributors. Not surprisingly, many of us traveled all the way back to childhood to find the answer and to relive some great memories. For others, a more recent gift topped all the others as the greatest and most memorable ever.
A toy? A tool? Maybe a specific, hard-to-find part? What’s your best auto-related Christmas gift ever? Get lost in a little holiday nostalgia and share in the comments section below! Here are some of ours:
The Tyco Rebound remote-controlled car was one of my favorite Christmas presents. That thing was indestructible—until you took it out in the rain! One of the cool things was it had the big tires so when I ran it into the wall, it didn’t leave a mark. That meant mom didn’t get mad at me for nicking up the walls.
Check out this old video I found:
My favorite automotive present wasn’t technically a Christmas gift, but I did get it at Christmastime.
Back in the early 1970s my uncle John, who is three years older than me, decided he was too old to play with toy cars anymore. He gave me his entire Matchbox and Hot Wheels collection—the good 1960s versions that everyone pays good money to own today. They were in great shape—never saw a sandbox or a mini demolition derby like most did. I even got the famous ‘Jackrabbit Special’ like they featured on the Hot Wheels cartoon show (who remembers that one?).
In an instant, my toy car collection tripled. Oh joy, oh bliss!
Uncle John also gave me about 100 miles of orange Hot Wheels track and a couple of those battery-powered boosters with the spinning wheels inside to speed the cars around the track. They were much better at shooting cars across the room at your sister instead.
Those cars were well-loved and well played-with. Once I got to be a too-cool teenager, I stopped playing with them, and the whole collection ended up going to Goodwill or the Salvation Army during one of Dad’s get-rid-of-everything purges.
Would I love to have all of those back? Darn right I would.
My favorite gearhead Christmas gift of all time, or at least the most memorable gift, was the 12-inch round Covico steering wheel I received in 1967 for my first car, a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air.
That said, my most cherished Christmas gift I ever received was in 1957. It was a 1956 Tonka Toy fire truck fashioned after 1956 Ford year model trucks. The 1957 Tonka Toy trucks were fashioned after the 1957 Ford trucks, but I much preferred the styling of a ’56 Tonka Toy. My mom drove our ’50 Olds 88 all over the San Gabriel Valley until she found a toy store that still had a ’56 on its shelves.
Today that very same 1956 Tonka Toy fire truck is displayed in my office next to a copy of Custom Classic Trucks—with my 1956 Ford F-100 big-window pickup on the cover!
My favorite auto-related present wasn’t one I received for Christmas, but one I gave to my son for his birthday. I drive a 2013 Wrangler so I gave him a remote-controlled Jeep Wrangler. Our driveway is long and bumpy—perfect for the off-roading Jeep. With the help of my daughter, we even built a ramp for it! Now that it is winter, we run it inside and even jump the stairs.
I love the laughs and smiles it brings to my family.
Growing up in a car-oriented family, I loved cars as a kid. So there’s no surprise that in my adult life I have the same affection for the automobile. Unfortunately for the people in my life nice enough to give me gifts, I am extremely difficult to shop for when it comes to holiday time. Most years growing up, if someone gave a car-based gift, it was usually a little bit of money for me to put toward whatever project I was working on at the time. That was great—but in the spirit of gift giving, it didn’t carry much flare along with it.
Since I was 16 (about half my life), I’ve gotten a couple gifts that really stand out in my mind as the best automotive gifts I’ve gotten. My wife is an amazing woman! I cause her much frustration when it comes to what’s on my Christmas list every year, but a couple of years ago, she hit one out of the park!
We had recently moved from our townhouse to the house we currently live in. One of the most notable upgrades in the move was more than doubling the size of the garage. In the past, I hadn’t had the room to work on any of my projects at home, so I didn’t. With the added room, my wife wanted to encourage me to use it more. So on Christmas morning, I woke up to a brand new, matte black Craftsman toolbox! And as if that wasn’t enough, she also gave me a 300-piece Craftsman tool kit to start filling it with! With the tools I already had mixed with my new ones, there wasn’t much I couldn’t do at home!
Now that’s a great Christmas gift!
When I was about five years old, Santa brought me a brand new video game: Enduro by Activision. As a kid, I always had toy cars and trucks around, but it was Enduro that introduced me to the idea of motorsports and racing.
Enduro was a pretty awesome game, too. You relied on finesse more than speed, and the scenery transitioned from day to night. Occasionally, the road would turn white and your car’s handling would change to simulate driving on ice—a groundbreaking innovation for the era.
A few years later, I traded in my joysticks for a set of box-end wrenches and embarked on an automotive hobby that I still enjoy to this day. I’ll always regard Enduro as my first step into the performance automotive world.
Looking back at past holidays, there are a lot of presents, given and received, that simply fade from memory. A few are notable exceptions though. This includes the Milwaukee Magnum Holeshooter drill I got in college, a cordless impact gun that I received before my first trip to Baja, and a Speedglas auto-dimming welding helmet when I signed up for a welding course at the local community college. What do all of these gifts have in common? Yes, they are all tools, but there is more to it than that.
They are all tools made in the USA. The memorable drill, impact gun, and welding helmet that I received all were top-of-the-line when they were purchased, and I do not think that it is a coincidence that they are all still in use today. My disposable income was limited when I received these gifts. The drills that I had purchased on my own were of lower quality, and have long since been discarded. In my mind, the perfect gift is one that the recipient would not purchase for himself, yet will cherish for years to come.
My favorite auto/motorcycle related gift (so far) is a custom painted gas tank off of an old Sportster.
My boyfriend bought the tank for me after I spotted it on a Sportster in the middle of a bunch of bikes at a guy’s shop we stopped at one weekend for parts. The motor and all the components were totally rusted on this bike, and I asked the shop owner what he was doing with it. He told me it was actually an old military bike and he was going to re-do the whole thing. I asked him if he was going to run that tank on it, and he said “Nah, I’ll probably just sell that thing.” I told my boyfriend how cool I thought it was on the ride home.
One night a couple of weeks later, it was sitting in our garage for me when I came home from work. I probably won’t ever run it on a bike, but I like to collect cool, old stuff like that just to have and use for decoration. We’re working on building a vintage BSA bobber bike for me, so once that’s all done it will probably trump the gas tank for the best gift!
My “Best Christmas Ever” is a toss-up between two of them.
As a kid growing up in the Great Plains of Canada, winter had three “traits.” It was cold, snow packed, and very long. If you lived in the country like I did, skating was something you did when your dad flooded a rink in the back yard. And since the prairie is about as flat as a pool table, the biggest sleigh hill you could find was probably a highway ditch—and most of those were filled to the top with snow anyway! Then on Christmas Eve of 1966, my dad called and said we’re going to town. “Town” was 35 miles away. Once I climbed in the cab of our red 1965 GMC, Dad informed me we were going to get a snowmobile. The Johnson-Evinrude dealer was closed for the holidays but the Ski Doo dealer (Hudson Bay Company) was open. Twenty minutes or so later, we were headed home with a brand spanking new Ski Doo Olympique strapped to the back of the GMC. I literally rode the bogey wheels off of that thing. It forever changed how I looked at winter, too.
The other best Christmas ever came a wee bit later in my life. I started to seriously collect tools when I was in my early twenties. I didn’t have a large collection to begin with, but it was definitely exceeding the limitations of the little green tool chest I owned. It was pretty obvious to my young bride that I needed some sort of organization. That green tool chest and the two old wooden Coca-Cola crates I used for tool storage weren’t exactly working. When she’d step out into that little one-car garage attached to our first house, she was forced to trip and stumble over wayward wrenches, sockets and hammers. I was constantly searching for the right tool and desperately needed some sort of organization.
As fate would have it, I married the daughter of a former small-town GM dealer, a former small-town Ford dealer, and a former big city Snap-0n dealer. Tools were in my father-in-law’s blood. And he had plenty of them (including more than a few roll-away cabinets). He also had something I lusted over—a vintage Snap-on roll-away cabinet. It was truly an Art Deco piece, and I suspect it came to him in a trade for a bigger, newer cabinet. He didn’t have a matching upper cabinet, but he did have a pretty nice later model Snap-on tool chest and extra tool drawer setup that he was using. Somehow, my bride convinced him he didn’t need it as much as I did.
Today, tools in my collection have come and gone. I have a big honking Mac Tools cabinet filled with tools, but that old Snap-on roll-away cabinet and the non-matching tool chests still have their place in my west coast shop. That tool cabinet combination literally changed the way I work on cars. Today, I don’t spin my wheels searching for, or tripping over, tools. Life in the shop is good and the truth is, I’ll never part with them! Best Christmas ever? It’s a tie. Both were fabulous!
Some of the earliest Christmas presents I remember involved model trains, Tonka trucks, slot car sets—and yes, Matchbox cars. At the time, it seemed like everyone owned Matchbox cars and a good imagination. We created Matchbox race car tracks using our basement steps and some wood. We turned the puddles at the end of our gravel driveway into an off-roading course. And sometimes we just shined up the cars and showed them off.
Those Matchbox cars were probably the first car-related gifts I ever received—for both Christmas and birthday. I can’t pinpoint the very first one because I was so young when I got my first cars. My collection grew quickly to include Jeeps and off-road vehicles, trucks, dragsters, muscle cars as well as an assortment of beater cars. And when things got out of hand, I had the Matchbox police cars and ambulances to restore order!
The best part is when my son came along, I was able to share those cars with him as he built his own collection of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. We both still have our collections today!