Best Christmas gifts for car lovers 2019

Struggling for Christmas gift ideas for a petrolhead? We've got this year's best options for all budgets...

Best Christmas gifts for car lovers 2019

Best Christmas gifts for car lovers 2017

Ho ho ho! The tree is up, carols are being sung and sales of socks are about to soar. But what should you gift to the car lover in your life? Here are the best suggestions for every budget

Lego Technic Land Rover Defender

Lego Land Rover Defender

Price: £159.99

Are you a fan of the new Land Rover Defender? Well, for those of us unable to spend the £45,000 necessary to purchase a real one, Lego has brought us the next best thing: this Technic kit (number 42110, for all you Lego geeks).

Leading on from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Bugatti Chiron, the Lego Defender continues the theme of challenging but greatly satisfying ‘click together’ construction and frankly incredible attention to detail. With 2573 pieces, this set will take a number of evenings to complete, so it’s worth making sure you have space to leave everything untouched until you put the last wheel on. 

It may not require any glue, but rest assured that this kit is every bit as demanding as the 11+ age rating would suggest, with certain parts of the four-stage build process taking more than four hours to complete. Thankfully, a clear set of visual instructions helps guide you through the process, with only yourself to blame when the wrong cog ends up on the wrong side of the engine.

Those looking for a challenge this Christmas won't be left unsatisfied, and whether you’re buying for a seasoned Technic professional or a fan of Land Rover’s iconic off-roader, it’s well worth considering.

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Top Trumps

Top Trumps

Price: £4.99

No car lover's stocking is complete without a cheeky deck of Top Trumps stuffed inside. For less than a fiver, you’ve the choice of bang-up-to-date sports cars, four-wheeled stars from the Fast & Furious films and even tractors. If you’ve not played before, you simply pick a statistic of your choice – engine size, for instance – and the winner is the player with the most impressive number.

Should the receiver of your gift be young at heart but not of birth certificate, there’s even a retro collection that includes the exotic sports cars of 1992 and the intriguingly titled crazy cars. Seeing as one of the tamest cards covers a giant motorised rollerskate, it’s fair to say this pack lives up to its name.

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Pure Highway 600

Pure Highway 600

Price: £159

For anyone tired of that crackly signal on their FM car radio and having a limited number of stations, Pure has a solution. Its DAB adaptor gives you full access to the huge list of digital stations available in this country in (pretty much) crystal-clear audio quality. It's not too complicated to set up and works through an FM transmitter or an aux cable; the signal through the FM transmitter is good, but it's clearer through the aux. It's a brilliant product that will be very happily received by anyone who listens to the radio in a car without DAB. A three-year warranty is included.

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Tamiya Mercedes-Benz G500 CC-02 RC car kit

Tamiya G 500

Price: £279.99 plus electronics

If there’s one car that left a lasting impression on the What Car? test team during our off-road 4x4 mega test, it was the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. With its powerful yet smooth engine, luxurious interior and mind-boggling ability on the rough stuff, it was the one 4x4 that everyone wanted to take home with them.

Sadly, even after a whipround at the office, we were some way short of the £95,000 we needed. Thankfully, there is a way to drive a G-Class for a lot less money, albeit one with a couple of caveats. For a start, you’ll need to build it yourself, and for seconds, it’s a tenth of the size of a real one.

That’s because the masters of modelling at Tamiya have released a new CC-02 off-road chassis, topped by a body that’s a faithful recreation of Mercedes’ go-anywhere hero. Like the real deal, it has full-time four-wheel drive, the option to lock the front and rear differentials (albeit with a bit of disassembly) and long-travel suspension.

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Tamiya Mercedes-Benz G500 CC-02 RC car kit

Tamiya G 500 chassis

Price: £279.99 plus electronics

The instructions are easy to follow, so anyone with a bit of common sense and some patience will be able to build it. Once complete, the sheer amount of suspension travel impresses, enabling the G-Class to flex its way over severe ruts and bumps while keeping all four wheels on the ground. If you're looking to off-road, we’d certainly recommend building it with the rear differential locked to boost traction in slippery conditions.

Get back to the blacktop and you’ll find the Tamiya G-Class accelerates briskly but will topple onto its side if you corner too quickly; there’s no stability control to save your bacon here. Thankfully, it’s fully customisable, so a slower motor with more low-end shove and lower-ratio gears are just a Google search away.

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Carrera Double Victory slot car set

Carrera Double Victory set

Price: £499.99

A shiny new slot car set will no doubt be a familiar Christmas memory to many, but there’s more to this giant track from Carrera than meets the eye. For a start, the two beautifully detailed Porsche 911 RSR racers in retro liveries are much larger than what you’d normally get, being 1/24th scale.

Then there’s the digital bit of this set’s title. Not only is your controller wirelessly linked to the car, rather than a lane, but it also has a button that enables you to change lane on a couple of special track pieces. That makes things more interesting with two racing (a well-timed lane change can even knock your opponent off the track) but also means up to four cars can race at the same time. Even if nobody else wants to play, a pace car feature means you can always race the computer.

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Carrera Double Victory slot car set

Carrera Double Victory 911s

Price: £499.99

You can adjust the speed and braking force of the cars, but we found them easy to control and rather rapid out of the box. You can even make them drift enjoyably around corners, thanks to the vast width of the track. Go too fast and you’ll make them fly off, but the cars proved sturdy in our testing. One thing's for sure: it’s an awful lot of fun.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind, however. With the track a massive 9.3 meters in length, you’ll need a big room to play in. You’ll also need a fair bit of time, because although the track is sturdy once pieced together, setting it up is a fiddly two-person job that’ll take a fair while the first time.

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Parrot Minikit Neo 2 HD

Parrot Minikit Neo 2 HD

Price: £79.98

This is a quick and easy solution for someone whose car doesn't have Bluetooth. The palm-sized device is designed to slot onto a sunvisor, and once you've connected it to your phone, it enables you to make and receive calls hands-free. It also uses voice recognition so you can make calls without picking up your phone. It can even act as a speaker, allowing you to play music and podcasts, although the sound quality is quite poor when the volume is turned up loud – which it will need to be on the motorway.

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Heel Tread socks

Heel Tread socks

Price: £9.00

If you're going to give your car-crazed loved ones socks this Christmas, make sure they come from Heel Tread. Everything this company does is inspired by cars (and the odd motorbike), whether it's classic colour schemes, interior fabrics or motorsport liveries. In this case, it's the fearsome Audi Quattro S1 Group B rally car's paintwork that has been transferred to fabric, but there are loads of other designs to choose from.

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Autoglym Aqua Dry Hi Tech Synthetic Chamois

Autoglym Aqua Dry Hi Tech Synthetic Chamois

Price: £11

This is a long name for a simple product. The Autoglym chamois leather is a great gift for absolutely anyone who properly cleans their car. It's made from a very absorbent material that helps leave a smear-free finish after a wash. And while it may not be the most exciting gift on the list, it's a practical and helpful stocking filler.

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Tamiya Toyota GR Supra TT-02 RC car kit

Tamiya Supra

Price: £139.99 plus electronics

It isn’t just off-roaders that Tamiya recreates in radio control: it offers a wide range of on-road ‘touring’ cars, too. One of the latest is the Toyota GR Supra, a car we first drove a few short months ago. 

As with the G-Class, you’ll need to build this Supra yourself, although the instruction manual is much thinner and simpler. With that in mind, it’s an ideal entry point into the world of ‘proper’ radio-controlled cars. As standard, this baby Supra gets independent double-wishbone suspension all round, four-wheel drive and a top speed of around 20mph.

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Tamiya Toyota GR Supra TT-02 RC car kit

Tamiya Supra chassis

Price: £139.99 plus electronics

A week’s worth of evenings should get it built, and anyone with an age in double figures will be fine to do the job, albeit with a little bit of adult supervision if you’re not quite in your teens. To drive, it’s entertainingly fast and grips the road well enough for quick cornering – but not so much that you can’t slide it about. Excellent.

And this kit is just the start. Should you crash your Supra body one too many times, or even just fancy a change, a wide variety of alternative shells are available. These include anything from a classic Porsche 911 right up to a modern MAN racing lorry. As for the chassis, it's widely upgradable, with faster motors, more adjustable suspension bits, limited-slip differentials to boost traction and even flashy aluminium bits.

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Zeiss DriveSafe lenses

Zeiss DriveSafe lenses

It’s a horrible time of year for commuters, especially for those who drive and wear glasses. While millions have to put up with both leaving and returning home in darkness, the bespectacled among us also have put up with glare from oncoming headlights, which can seriously limit our view of the road.

So, why not help out your optically challenged nearest and dearest with a shiny new pair of specs? Specifically, ones that help bring a bit of clarity to those dark winter days. These Zeiss DriveSafe lenses take into account your pupil expanding during low-light conditions to improve your vision and have a special coating that filters out glare.

Trying them back to back with non-coated lenses, we can confirm that they work very well indeed. Glare is all but gone, so you can see far more when traffic is approaching, and meeting oncoming traffic over the brow of a hill is a far less fraught experience. Indeed, the only rub is that they’re a fair bit pricier than regular lenses.

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Cars: Accelerating The Modern World exhibition

V&A

Price: £18.00

If the person you’re buying for is of a cultural disposition (and able to get to London before April), how about some tickets to this exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum? Cars: Accelerating the Modern World looks back on the 130-year history of the car and how it has shaped our society. With a selection of real cars, models and assorted automobilia helping to tell the story, it looks to be an immersive experience.

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What Car? subscription

What Car? mags

Price: 13 digital issues for £16.99, print £44.99

Every car lover should have a subscription to Britain's biggest and best car buyer's guide. The monthly What Car? magazine gives you access to the very latest car news and reviews, in-depth comparisons tests of the most important models and industry-leading advice for car buyers and owners. Right now, you can get a fantastic deal on a digital subscription, at £16.99 for 13 issues, or you can have the print copies delivered to your house for for just £44.99.

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And don't forget, our previous product test winners would also make great presents:

Best handheld vacuum cleaner >

Best car phone holder >

Best sat-navs >

Best car shampoo >

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