While the tinsel and holly have started to appear, the stores have yet to begin their relentless onslaught of Christmas carolling. Before I descend into full-on Scrooge mode and seek refuge far from the madding crowds — I’d like to take time to express gratitude while I still have some left.
If life was a fairy tale I’d wave my magic wand and scatter gifts far and wide like an automotive Lady Bountiful. A ground-up restoration for my brother’s GTO, an F-350 King Cab with unlimited fuel for Soo, a chauffeur-driven Panamera for Katherine…
But if I had to narrow it down to one (and I’ve been told that I do), then the recipient of my sky’s-the-limit-Christmas-gift would be for my dear friend, Chuck — a true-blue buddy for almost three decades.
Chuck waxes nostalgically about his long-departed Toyota Landcruiser, a beastly critter with a penchant for self-destruction.
Instead of merely replacing his beloved with another high-maintenance original — my Christmas wish for Chuck would be one of TLC Icon’s fabulous custom FJ40s. Handcrafted in Van Nuys, Calif., the Icon combines a legendary FJ40 Landcruiser chassis with a modern, high-tech platform — each built to order per customer specifications.
Instead of well-ventilated floorboards, it features state-of-the-art aluminum panels finished in heat-cured polyurea, and a body powder-coated in a proprietary Teflon polyester blend that never needs waxing. There’s an optional 420 hp Corvette LS6 crate motor, shift on the fly 5-speed transmission, and a formidable Fox shock suspension setup. At more than $100,000 U.S. to start, the ultimate FJ40 is priced like a supercar — without the headache of an aging classic. (http://www.icon4x4.com)
$100 and under
Car-loving kids come in all sizes, and for them I’ve got the Smithsonian Motor Works Visible engine. It’s a model kit that educates — through hands-on assembly of a scale-model engine that actually fires up, all four pistons pumping — provided everything is installed correctly. (http://www.discoverthis.com/motorworks.html. approximately $48)
Every driver on my wish list deserves a CAA gift membership. Imagine the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ve got 24/7 roadside assistance no matter whether you’re driving your own car, a friend’s car, or even a rental. Dead battery? Flat tire? Locked the keys in the car? No problem, it’s all covered. For $107, it’s a great way to ensure worry-free driving for your loved ones. (https://www.caasco.com)
$50 and under
For my car-buddies, I’ve got the ultimate stocking stuffer: If you’ve ever had the pleasure of polishing aluminum rims, you’ve no doubt expanded your vocabulary much as I have. I loathed my new billet rims until I discovered Mothers Powerball — an ingenious ball of tightly packed foam strips, which attaches to the head of a drill. The Powerball compresses into tight spots, leaving no surface untouched and the soft foam causes no damage to the surface of the aluminum. Not just for rims — the Powerball is effective on just about every hard vehicle surface — and does a great job on cloudy, plastic headlights. ($29.99 at most automotive supply stores)
Another can’t-do-without stocking stuffer for all my car friends: Meguiar’s Natural Shine Vinyl and Rubber Protectant: I’ve been using this for years. Since all of my vehicles are old enough to vote, they require a little bit more care to look their best. Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Protectant does a great job of restoring lustre to faded trim, removes dirt and best of all, imparts a wonderful new car scent to your interior. (http://www.meguiarsdirect.com, approximately $10)
If you’re one of those car nuts reduced to paroxysms of delight by a big, stinky burnout: have I got a treat for you. Sea Foam’s motor treatment not only does a great job of cleaning your combustion chamber, but provides an unparalleled smoke show. It’s just the ticket for capping off a day’s wrenching with your car buddies (http://www.seafoamsales.com, approximately $12)
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