By Leslie Mann, Special to Tribune newspapers
1:48 PM PST, November 26, 2010
In case Ken Splithoff's friends are reading this, the Carpentersville, Ill., auto aficionado has a few things on his holiday wish list: remote-controlled cars, subscriptions to hot rod magazines and a coupon for a racecar driving course.
"I did that a few years ago," said Splithoff of the course. "Great fun. Love to do it again!" Gifts he treasures from past years include a NASCAR statistics book and model-car kits.
A truck driver by day, Splithoff spends his free time restoring old cars. His next project: a 1965 Dodge Dart.
If you have a Ken on your holiday list, following are some gift ideas and where to find them:
When cold weather causes your car's batteries to run low, use Black & Decker's Instant Jump Starter to jump your car without using another vehicle. Cost: $99.99. walmart.com
Moms who spend half their days in the car appreciate Steri-Bottle disposable baby bottles. They are already sterilized, BPA-free and recyclable. Cost: $9.99 for 10. babiesrus.com
New floor mats equal a fresh look. Buy universal versions at major retailers or go to the dealer for mats fitted for your car. Honda dealers and estore.honda.com, for example, sell sets for the Accord for $101.30.
This gift ranks right up there with new socks for teens, but every car needs one — a roadside emergency kit. Cost: $49.99. target.com
The Mopar Electronic Vehicle Tracking System texts you if your teen drives outside his parameters or if he exceeds a certain speed. It includes an on-board emergency button in case of an accident. Cost: $149 plus installation for a one-year plan. Find at Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram dealerships, but available for all cars made after 1996.
Not guaranteed to prevent your teen from running over your bicycle, but it helps: the Parking Target. This mini speed bump sticks to your garage floor to tell you where to stop. Cost: $9.99 to $13.98. parkingtarget.com
If your household has more cars than garage bays, buy this for the car left outside at night: Windshield Snow Cover. Peel it off in the morning for an ice-free windshield. Cost: $14.95 for cars; $19.95 for SUVs and pickups. solutions.com
For your four-legged family members, visit drsfostersmith.com for car accessories. The ramp for $64.99 enables older dogs to climb into SUVs and vans. The $14.99 safety harness is a doggie seat belt. Washable seat covers trap dog hair for $39.99. Collapsible dog bowls for $9.89 are travel-ready.
For the techies
Tailgating is easier with Black & Decker's Power Inverter, which converts your car's DC current to AC. So anything you plug into the wall at home gets juice on the road. And, it gives your cell phone charger an overnight dock. Cost: $29.99. Home Depot and Menards
Start your cold car from your warm house with the Viper SmartStart remote starter. It allows you to use your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android to start the car, unlock or lock it, open the trunk or blast your horn. Cost: $299. Best Buy
With the Parrot MINIKIT Slim, you can use your Bluetooth cell phone hands-free while driving. (This one is universal, attaches to your visor and goes from car to car. For better sound, see Crutchfield's car-specific kits that transmit through the car stereo.) Cost: $79.99. crutchfield.com.
If you lack a sense of direction, see Garmin's new Nuvi2790LMT navigator. It has a wide screen with three-dimensional images and is voice-activated. Cost: $499. garmin.com
Operate your iPod or iPhone hands-free with the iTrip DualConnect. Then use the car stereo buttons to play, pause, etc. Works in any car with an FM radio, and you can switch it from one car to another or to a rental. Cost: $59.99. griffintechnology.com
Just for fun
For the woman who wants to give her car a feminine touch, check out accessories including the pink zebra car seat covers (two for $39.95) and cheetah velour seat belt covers ($5.95) cardecor.com
Kids like Road Rippers' Motor Muscle remote-controlled cars, but their retro songs trigger memories for parents. "Louie, Louie" blares from the 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge, for example. Other models include a 1957 Corvette Stingray and 1971 Dodge Super Bee. Cost: $35. Toys R Us and Walmart.
A string of wee motorcycles comprise the Motorcycle Party and Holiday Lights from aerostitch.com. Cost: $24. For other silly gifts or for serious gear, give a gift certificate to this Web site, which is a cycler's candy store.
David Hough's book, "Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well," gives a play-by-play for safe riding. He tells you, for example, how to avoid hazards from deer to wind. Cost: $16.47 paperback amazon.com
If accelerating a race car to 100 mph is your spouse's idea of heaven, send him or her to one of the ten U.S. racetracks that host Drag Racing Experiences. Cost: $349 for two runs, following a safety lesson. $149 for a ride with an instructor. Prices and age restrictions vary slightly by location. greatamericandays.com or 866-987-9876.
If garage decor is your thing, enjoy the retro porcelain gas signs including the Sinclair dinosaur and the Mobil Pegasus. Cost: $19.99. griotsgarage.com
The Motormouse Wireless Mouse looks like a toy sports car, but batteries in its trunk allow it to replace your less-fun computer mouse. Available in red, black or silver. Cost: 49.95. motormouse.us.com
Paint your own scratches with Scratch Fix 2-in-1 Premium Touch-Up Repair Kit. Cost: $6.99. Find at AutoZone stores or duplicolor.com. See Web site for color code for your car.
Dream the year away by ogling at a car a day on the Classic Cars & Trucks 2011 Desk Calendar. Cost: $12.99. amazon.com
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