- top tips
5 Father's Day gift ideas for the car-loving dad
Updated 25 Mar 2021
Father’s Day. That day of the year when dads everywhere can expect to receive a thoughtful, well-researched and meaningful gift from their beloved offspring.
Actually, that’s almost certainly not what happens and if you’re a dad reading this then the chances are that over the years you have instead received either a power tool you barely use, some interestingly patterned socks, or a completely unexpected item you never knew you needed. A decade ago, I received a nasal-hair trimmer from my eight-year-old son. I laughed at the time and my wife confirms that, back then, I was not the owner of a ‘nostril beard’ deserving of such attention. Apparently though, I could use such a device now.
If you’re a car-loving dad, and your kids are aware that you are, then you might get lucky and receive a useful item this year. A toolbox maybe, a battery charger, a tyre inflator, a car jack - all excellent gifts for the dad who has both the interest and the skills required to hunker over an engine or get under the car and tinker with oil changes and the like.
However, a note to the kids out there. While dad may be a car enthusiast, he may not be interested in getting stuck into such DIY dabbling. Many dads are short on the ability to indulge in such behaviour. That doesn’t mean that car-related gifts are out of the question though and there are items out there that will certainly bring a smile to the old man’s face.
1: Track day experience
This goes at the top of the list. Every dad has an inner Craig Lowndes screaming to get out and prove that if it wasn’t for the fact they’re 20kg overweight and have deteriorating hand-eye coordination, they too would be a multiple winner at Bathurst and a Supercar legend . . . or perhaps that’s just me.
You can give dad the opportunity to find out by gifting him a track-day experience. Race circuits across the country offer these motorsport adventures where dad can live out his racing dream by either piloting a race car himself under the watchful supervision of a pro, or be a passenger as the pro takes him on a few flying laps.
Being a passenger when a racing car is being driven to the edge by someone who really knows what they are doing is both a brutally exciting and sphincter-loosening, terrifying experience. But it is almost guaranteed that dad will emerge from the experience shaking, laughing and wearing the goofiest of grins. And that’s priceless.
2: The dream car
Every dad has a favourite car. Usually, this will be something wildly expensive that only those with the deepest of pockets and fattest of wallets can afford.
Bearing that in mind, you won’t be able to buy the actual, full-size physical car. However, you could shell out on a quality diecast model for his desk perhaps, or maybe a framed photo or poster for the man cave wall. A nicely illustrated book on the car’s history – one that dad can read at his leisure while perched on his favourite ‘bathroom library reading chair’ - would also do the trick.
If you’re uncertain what car your dad dreams about, an easy way to find out is to ask: “What would you do if you won the lottery?”
It’s guaranteed that once dad has done the right thing and said, “Take mum to Venice and pay off the mortgage,” he will start talking about buying that special slice of automotive history he’s always hankered to get his hands on.
The average age of the Australian car fleet is 10 years old. That means most of us are not cruising about in a shiny, new motors loaded up with all the latest cutting-edge trimmings.
Fortunately, clever types at aftermarket manufacturers are usually quick to develop versions of these items and make them available to the rest of us. And there are heaps of these gadgetry goodies from which to choose. There are heads-up displays, reversing cameras, dash cams, GPS navigation devices, tyre pressure monitoring systems. The list goes on.
If dad is knocking about in a base model ‘anything’ from around the 2010 mark, a reversing camera is something you might consider. He will appreciate not only that he no longer has to twist his aching back to see what’s going on behind the car, but also that the reversing camera just might save him from making the twice-yearly ‘mum-reverses-into-obvious-stationary-obstacle-directly-to-the-rear’ insurance claim . . . or perhaps that’s just me too.
4: Car wash & detailing gift cards
There are dads out there who enjoy spending at least part of their weekend washing and polishing their car inside and out. However, for some, this is a chore, even when the interior is strewn with fast food wrappers, the crumbs from a hastily munched service station sausage roll, and forgotten drive-thru coffee cups, all of which come together to make the car smell as fresh as the inside of a well-used wheelie bin.
If you’re not game (read ‘too lazy’) to wash, polish and clean the car on dad’s behalf, then the answer might be a gift card for a car wash and/or detailing service. Nice.
OK, it’s too late for this one to be relevant this year, but we’ll slip it in anyway and lay the groundwork for 2020.
This is for all those 17- to 19-year-old p-plate drivers who have borrowed dad’s car, whose every conversation with the old man has included the phrase, “Hey, can I borrow 20 bucks for some petrol?” and who still rely on dad to pay for those other insignificant, incidental items like car insurance, road assistance, new tyres, servicing . . . you get the picture.
Save any money you get from your grandparents on birthdays and at Christmas, plus 10% of your wages from that part-time job you’ve finally landed and, next Father’s Day, put it all in an envelope marked ‘For the greatest and most patient Dad ever’. Done.
Jonathan has been writing about the auto industry for years and is particularly interested in the high-tech innovations sweeping the industry.
He’d love to own a Tesla Model S, but also adores anything with a V8 under the bonnet.
He has yet to decide between an EV or a Mustang for his next ride.