PICKING the right gift for an auto enthusiast is always easier said then done.
Giving parts for that favourite project will never be a surprise, because you need input on what to buy. Gift certificates are always welcome, but they lack that personal touch.
A gift that never goes out of fashion for that special auto buff is a book. Even in today's electronic age, books are by far the most personal way of providing information and entertainment.
One new release in hardcover from Motorbooks is "History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths and Rumors Revealed." Penned by automotive journalists Matt Stone and Preston Lerner, it takes an informed look at roughly 100 years of four-wheeled folklore.
Was there really a curse on actor James Dean's ill-fated Porsche 550 Spyder? Did a monkey named Jocko Flocko actually drive and win a Grand National race? Who killed the electric car?
These and other urban legends, Hollywood hoopla and industry insider information are laid bare for a thorough examination and a final verdict. Well-written, informative and with lots of supporting photos and illustrations, it's a total eye-opener.
Another one that's been out for about a year is "Built For Adventure -- The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt". Pitt, a fictional hero from Cussler's best-selling adventure novels, acquires a new, rare automobile to add to his collection after vanquishing each of his adversaries. While Pitt is fiction, the cars depicted in the novels are real, part of Cussler's personal collection.
It's a coffee-table book but, unlike some that are largely a collection of photos, Cussler ties Ronnie Bramhall's beautiful photos to a warm and informative commentary about the history and acquisition of each of the 56 very special vehicles in the collection, including Cord, Duesenberg, Stutz Bearcat and Cadillac.
Another book to consider is an annual subscription to Hemmings Motor News. Billed as the "World's Largest Collector-Car Marketplace, Hemmings' monthly editions keep enthusiasts abreast of what vehicles are for sale and the parts and services available for completing a restoration.
Hemmings also offers great insight into the old-car hobby, with collector-vehicle reviews, auction sales results and analysis, helpful guides, restoration tips and cruise information.
While travel mugs, car wax and wash vouchers are all viable alternatives, don't overlook a great book.