Christmas shopping for the auto enthusiast on your list isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, but there are a number of gift options for someone whose world revolves around cars.
The car Santa can go big or small. It depends upon the depth of his sack or wallet, as the case may be.
Here are some suggestions that may help the yuletide process along for someone who has different tastes or might be a bit difficult to please when it comes to unwrapping gifts under the Christmas tree.
Car guys and gals love auto magazines. There are periodicals catering to street rodders, custom car aficionados, muscle car buffs, sports cars, trucks of all sizes, racing and even new vehicles. If money is tight, just give your favorite car friend one magazine from the newstand or bookstore. Better yet, give him or her a year's subscription.
Our favorite auto lovers generally have a soft spot for car coffee-table books as well and several area bookstores should have something of interest. These books are something that can be enjoyed for months or years on end.
How about giving a membership in the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association or the National Street Rod Association? Both groups have dynamite magazines and perks for belonging. There are other car clubs and organizations that would welcome new members and one doesn't always have to have an old car to join.
An 88-page mail-order catalog I recently received has all sorts of gift possibilities for the car person. There are miniature gas pumps, Christmas auto ornaments, diecast car and truck models, replica hood ornaments and dashboards, metal signs and paintings.
You can buy silverware that looks like tools, clocks with Harley-Davidson logos or Chevy "bowtie" emblems, and, of course, the staple of an enthusiast's life: T-shirts or ball caps with all manner of automotive illustrations on them.
Hawaiian-type shirts with old cars should be a big hit for the automotive St. Nick. Perhaps the most unusual shirt I saw would be one that had a diamond plate motif.
Choices seem nearly limitless in this catalog.
Maybe light switch plates with the outline of a 1932 Ford or even a custom-flamed toilet seat would work.
There are wall hangings with the front ends of Corvettes, Cadillacs or pickup trucks that would look terrific in your male friend or relative's "cave." Neon signs are a bit more pricey, along with replicas of a drive-in movie stand and speakers.
For the more mechanically inclined auto devotees on your Christmas list, certain tools may just hit the spot. Maybe a case of oil, car wax, antifreeze or other auto essential would be appropriate.
Perhaps a gift certificate for a car wash (when the weather's more favorable) would hit the spot. One or more new tires might just be the ticket for some.
The gift-giver might also take his or her recipient to an auto race in 2011 or custom car show in Fresno, Sacramento or San Francisco.
Many car fanciers like miniature models of the vehicles they admire. They can be found in diecast, built-up form or in plastic kits to be assembled.
Merced has several auto parts stores and department stores that certainly should yield some gift ideas. It just takes time to scope out the possibilities.
Of course, if money is no object, the well-heeled Santa Claus could buy a new or used car or truck for that special someone. I doubt that happens very often but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
It would be terrific if Santa Claus would get me a new Mustang, Camaro or Challenger, but that's not too likely.
Still, with a little bit of imagination and innovative searching, it's possible to give just the right Christmas present for our car lover.
Doane Yawger is a retired Merced Sun-Star reporter and editor who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.