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A Dozen Delightful Ideas for Dads Who Love to Drive

Each year, the approach of Father’s Day strikes a little panic in the hearts of wives and children who want to give a meaningful gift to the dads in their lives. After all, how can one small present express the huge amount of gratitude we feel for all they do? 

Suggestions offered by friends and advice columns are often too specific. (What if your dad doesn’t golf, fish or wear a tie?) And sometimes those ideas are just too expensive. So for this year’s list of Father’s Day gift ideas we narrowed our focus, but expanded our definition of “affordable.”

The tighter focus let us to concentrate on just one thing many dads love: their car. Giving broader consideration to cost allowed us to develop a list of fairly ambitious gift ideas, plus equally great, but less expensive, alternatives.

So if you have a father, or father-figure, who loves his car or truck almost as much as he loves you, here are a dozen ideas for dad’s big day.
  1. Roadside assistance plans provide emergency help if your dad’s car breaks down. Costs for premium plans can run up to $350 annually and, in addition to the usual roadside help, may also offer discounts on other travel costs such as airfare and hotels.
  2. Cheap alternative: a roadside emergency kit. Yes, it’s cliché’, but that’s because it really is useful, and it’s probably not something dad will ever buy for himself. Find basic kits online for under $20.
  3. A portable back massager might improve dad’s disposition on long road trips. The $110 price tag is more bearable when you consider it can be used in the home or, with the included adapter, in his vehicle.
  4. Cheap alternative: a lumbar support pillow ($30) also works in a car, or a recliner.
  5. Performance driving lessons: a couple hours on a closed-course will give fast-and-furious type dads the thrill of driving a high-performance vehicle without the high cost of an actual car. In Atlanta, the Porsche Experience starts at $300. The Richard Petty Driving Experience (starting at around $160) lets dad drive like a Nascar boss.
  6. Cheap alternative: a ride around a high-performance go-cart course starts at around $25, which makes it affordable enough for you to both go. “Together” time is always a win-win!
  7. If your dad has a long commute, give him an audio book to play in his car’s CD player. Audio books are available in stores, online and even by subscription! For about $15 a month sites like  Audible let dad download books to his phone, then listen to them in his car (or anywhere else). Subjects range from the latest fiction to educational material – so dad can be a “road” scholar.
  8. Cheap alternative: with a library card your dad can check out audio books for free!
  9. Customized floor mats are useful and fun. For about $50 you can customize a car mat with anything from “World’s Greatest Dad” to your own picture.
  10. Cheap alternative: steering wheel cufflinks can be found online for just 10 bucks.
  11. A universal cellphone holder, for about $50, provides hands-free convenience while chatting in the car.
  12. Cheap alternative: a portable phone charger. Newer models are universally compatible and start at about $12.
Whether you go low, or go all out, don’t forget that the most precious present you can give anyone is yourself. Invest some one-on-one time with your dad to create great Father’s Day memories for this year, and beyond.