Image: Lexus

This has been weighing on my mind a lot lately as I turn 31 today, and I’ve been a certified car fanatic for at least 15 years. I truly enjoy cars, the freedom and mobility they can facilitate in our lives, and most of all the camaraderie involved in the automotive community. Do you give car-related gifts to others, enthusiast or not? We all know those Lexus commercials are bogus, right? I mean, who is giving a luxury car as a gift without discussing it first?

This world of motorized enthusiasts is large and vast, yet we’re still on the fringes of society. For most people who drive, cars are simply a means of transportation and don’t carry any meaning above and beyond that. “Normal” people don’t really spend much time thinking about ways to make their driving experience better.

Yesterday, while running errands with my wife, we started discussing her aging Mazda3 as it rolls ever closer to the 200,000 mile mark. We’ve been talking about replacing her car lately with something newer and nicer. The car has been perfectly reliable, and continues to trudge on without much complaint. During the conversation we both realized that what she really wanted boiled down to more advanced technology like Bluetooth and a reverse camera. She likes the Mazda3, even a decade on from its showroom delivery, and would miss it when it went away.

Image: Mazda

Aftermarket audio options abound, and we wouldn’t be the first people to replace the Mazda’s 6-disk in-dash unit with a double-DIN touch screen display. I opted for a Sony unit with all the bells and whistles, including integration for the steering wheel controls, and an included reverse camera. For less than the average new car payment, we’ll bring the car into the present, and she’ll be happy with it again. Plus, it gives me an excuse to tinker with her car, which has by and large been off-limits to my modification tendencies. Well, that and a full car detail to get rid of the dog hair.

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Image: Sony

So, car-related gifts. Let’s see them.