Car people: who are they? What are they? Why do they make strange noises with their mouths when a Lamborghini drives by? We may never know. But it’s possible a number of gifts can help you live the life, and understand the ways of the gearhead.
Shopping for someone with a budding auto obsession is tough, because often all they want is a full-size car. They want a real vehicle that’s better than whatever bicycle/econobox/whatever is in their garage.
Since we can’t all buy new cars with bows on them, we can at least suggest these gifts to get you by these holidays.
If you want a primer on everything weird and wonderful about car history and culture, look no further. We’ve assembled some of our best stories from throughout the years into this handy primer that will get newbies up to speed in 60 seconds, flat.
Did you know the first successful vehicle in Antarctica was a Volkswagen Beetle? Or how a New York taxi company killed the electric car? Automotive history is weird and wonderful, and these are the weirdest and wonderfulest parts.
You love our website (YOU LOVE OUR WEBSITE), now you can carry it around with you wherever you go.
Everyone has a Volkswagen story. The Beetle remains arguably the most produced car in history, and possibly the most important car, socially, ever made. For a generation of Americans, it defined a rejection of the overstuffed domestic status quo. For the rest of the world, it was an affordable, modern entry to owning an automobile like they’d never seen before.
Unfortunately, like Hugo Boss and Kodak, Volkswagen and the Beetle have been associated with the Nazi party. Hell, Hitler named the car himself; he told Ferdinand Porsche to make a car “with the shape of a Beetle.” But the Bug’s origins were quite different. In fact, they were Jewish.
The Volkswagen Beetle was originally the “Maikäfer” (German for May bug), and it was designed by a Jewish man named Josef Ganz. His designed was stolen by the Nazis, who attempted to purge him from the history books. But that story is told in Paul Schilperoord’s thrilling biography of the man and the legendary car he designed.
We at Jalopnik are a bunch of goofy idiots, but car journalism used to be an art. The Da Vinci of automotive writing was L.J.K. Setright, a British journalist whose car reports should be set to music. This compilation of his work is as much about the mechanics or people as it is about the mechanics of engines, and sheds light on the personalities that created the cars of our dreams.
But don’t be fooled–the book is called Designers, but it is also about design. Where the book really succeeds is when it shows how personality and design are inextricably linked: You can study a Ford GT, but you’ll learn much more by talking to Camilo Pardo. Setright gives you this same insight into the greats of a bygone era.
If you weren’t at the Jalopnik Film Fest this year, you missed the chance to see Robert De Niro’s legendary espionage movie on screen at the Ace Hotel’s beautiful new theater. But now, you can see it restored in hi-res in the comfort of your own home.
Ronin stars De Niro as a black-market contractor hired to retrieve a briefcase in Paris. The whole film is great, but we’re recommending it because it contains possibly the best car chases in the history of film. You can read our full review here, but this, in a nutshell, is why we love Ronin:
Frankenheimer’s chase scenes are notable for the way he carefully scripted not just the pursuit, but also the chaos around it. In other movies’ chase scenes, outside elements like uninvolved motorists crashing into one another to avoid the heroes and villains, secondary explosions and property damage are thrown into the mix merely to liven up the visuals.
But Ronin’s chase scenes are full of a more organic form of chaos. Oncoming traffic, drivers in roundabouts, overturned freight trucks and massive pile-ups all figure into, and result from, the film’s pursuits. Everything’s part of a system in Frankenheimer’s chases, a larger whole. The consequences are visceral, terrifying, and feel real in a way few other movies can match.
Not to mention, you can finally find out what Robert De Niro was up to before he interned for Anne Hathaway!
If you’ve ever wanted to experience racing on a track but you’re a wittle scaredy-cat who’s afwaid of cwashing your car, then Forza 6 is for you. Its hyper-realistic graphics were enough to make Matt Hardigree sick, and the gameplay is better than ever.
We could write pages about how realistic this game is–the tire physics alone are mind-boggling (we’ve put more than one virtual car into a virtual wall, and the car realistically hydroplanes over standing water on the track), to say nothing of the handling differences in each of the cars.
But what really sets Forza 6 apart is the Indy racing. It’s one of the only games we’ve played that gives the user a true sense of the unbelievable speed of Indy car. Combined with the realistic graphics, it’s enough to make you loser your mind (or your lunch).
But you don’t have to be a professional organization to make videos about neat stuff in cool cars. You can do it yourself with the help of this RAM suction cup mount.
The RAM mount is that is has a ball mount. A regular GoPro mount relies on multiple angled connections to get the camera to face the way you want it to. For a comparable price, the RAM mount is a no-brainer.
What’s the fastest car in the world? A rental car. The Shelby GT350H was the rental version of the Shelby GT350, itself about as close to a road-legal race car sold to the public. Back in the ‘60s could rent one of these at a Hertz and tear around your neighborhood. Those days are over, but you can relive the fun in miniature with this model Shelby from Revell.
The kit contains 81-pieces and instructions, making it ideal both for first-time model-builders and real nerds who do this all the time and take it way too seriously. The assembled size is 7 inches, making it perfect for your desk.
With the new Star Wars due out this year, it’s understandable that you’d rather be piloting a Tie Fighter than a Kia Sedona. Fortunately, you can bring your starship dreams to life with this Clone Trooper shifter cover.
Exlight made this figurine out of ceramic and metal, and it comes with everything you need to install it yourself. With this guy’s help, you can find the gear you’re looking for.
All right, we’ve sold you on the cult of cars. What better way to celebrate your newfound appreciation for design than to draw some cars? Starting is easy with this IDRAW sketchbook, which breaks down the mechanics of car design (pun intended). It includes information about proportions and styles and pairs with a website that provides more detail.
The book also included a reference section with automotive brands, design schools, auto show dates and locations, and over 100 templates to practice with.
We love cars, but we’re the first to admit that car culture can feel a little staunch and stuffy. The Hoonigan guys are a breath of fresh air in a world that can take itself too seriously. I mean, just look how cool Ryan Tuerck is in this video we made!
The only way to make a drift car more chill? A cool dog sitting in the passenger seat.*
Your pooch can look as stylish as Tuerck with this special Hoonigan collar designed to mimic Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta ST RX43. The best part? Proceeds from this collar go to a no-kill animal shelter.
*Note: Don’t do this.
Leatherman is the guild standard of multipurpose tools. Durable, functional, and low-profile, this is the tool you need for every road trip, off roading adventure, and just your everyday life.
This one has a clip-point knife blad, needlenose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, scissors, a file, a bottle opener, and flat and Phillips head screwdrivers. This tool clips on your keychain so you can fix your truck or reassemble that crumbling IKEA dresser.
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