Aston1936 Holiday Gift Ideas

If you are an Aston owner and your Sweetie is looking for gift ideas – let me help.  I know, this is a bit of a departure from ‘how to change your oil filter‘, but I’ve been thinking about the plight of your spouses and friends trying to figure out what gift to get someone that probably already has their ultimate toy.

What I’ve come up with is a list of  easy to purchase and hopefully well received gift idea that many Aston owners would appreciate.  The prices range from under $10 USD to a little more, so even a young son or daughter can get a gift idea on an allowance.

This list includes a number of items for owners that work on their cars themselves a bit.  Perhaps they wash their own cars, or change their own oil.   The ideas here can make tasks like that a little easier.   Some of the ideas are more universal and work for any owner.

I figure you’ll spot something you like on the list and forward the link to this blog to your Sweetie to steer them in the right direction [that way Santa will know exactly what you want – wink].

If you have any suggestions to add to the list, please leave a comment below or contact me.  Here is my list for 2021.


To Bond or Not?

I’m starting with a controversial topic.  Not all Aston Martin owners are James Bond fanatics.   I love a James Bond movie, but I don’t own a DB9 because I am pretending to be a 00 agent.   Don’t presume your loved one is either.  Now if they are a self confessed Bond aficionado – go for it (some ideas are there for you below).   My idea here is simple – give them a life experience.  Buy tickets to the latest Bond movie at the best possible theater you can go to, and take them to the movie!  I’d much rather go out to see ‘No Time to Die‘ in an iMax theater with my family and friends than to get a coffee table book on Bond cars.  Both are nice, but I’ll take the movie every time if I get to go out with friends (even if I am seeing it for a second time).   Modestly priced this should cost you about $20 USD per person.

Required Reading

I think every prospective or current modern era Aston Martin owner should have a copy of Grant Neal’s ‘ The Definitive Guide to Gaydon era Aston Martin: The Ultimate Aston Martin Buyers Guide‘.   This book is full of eye candy and information about all recent generations of cars (2004 and newer) and will give them all sorts of insights and tips about their car.    I’ve already written an entire blog post about the book here, and on that page you’ll find links to purchase it on Amazon Kindle for under $40 USD.   Sadly no print versions are available anymore, it’s Kindle only.

Aston Martin Owners Club

Aston Martin Quarterly Magazine is part of AMOC membership

The Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) is an non-profit organization based in the UK trying to bring like minded owners together, organize events, and provide resources.   I’ve been an AMOC member since I got my Aston Martin DB9.  In return AMOC has subsidized our local Track Day events, and I get the gorgeous coffee table magazine “Aston Martin Quarterly” four times a year.  While the club is oddly going through some political turmoil recently, I think supporting the club is still a worthy endeavor.   Club membership is an annual subscription, so you could always sign them up for a year to see if they enjoy it.  It’s about $150 USD per year and you can learn more about the AMOC and sign them up online here[I believe these is even a little ‘welcome pack’ you get so you could have this to wrap up as part of the gift]

Is my Aston 1 of 1?

My experience has been that many Aston owners wonder how rare their particular car is.   The holy grail being a ‘1 of 1’ – the only example that exists.  Prestige, ego, whatever it is.  Mine is 1 of about 80.   How do I know?

My gift idea is to contact the Aston Martin Heritage Trust (AMHT) and request that Tim Cottingham (the Trust’s official registrar) do some basic quick research on their car.  Tim is the official ‘keeper’ of the manufacturing records from Aston, and he can work out how many were made of your model, year, colors, transmission, etc.   

I think the item is called a Vehicle Heritage Certificate and might cost about £100 (about $140 USD).  You can reach out to the AMHT by email info@amht.org.uk or by phone +44 1865 400414.  You’ll probably be talking to Donna Bannister – say Hi from me!  Just explain to them what you want and they will usually tailor the research for you.  Don’t expect it next day, Tim has to actually do the research (and he has a real job too).  Make your request as early as possible.

A drive somewhere in the Aston

Give them a reason to go for a drive

Another life experience gift.  Pick a destination – any destination – and ask/offer to be their companion on the journey.   Driving these great cars can be the best gift and reward of all.   You’re idea can be as simple taking your son an heading out for an ice cream across town or taking your spouse to a bed and breakfast weekend at the end of an excellent driving road.  You don’t even have to know exactly where, just put a coupon in their stocking detailing what you would like to do.

If you happen to live in the UK one destination could be to visit the AMHT museum to tour the car collection at ‘The Barn’.   Personally I’d love to see this some day.  Admission is under $10 USD per person.  You can learn more about the museum here[If you go, mention you learned about it here]

Aston Martin Swag

The Aston Martin Heritage Trust (AMHT) runs an online shop with all sorts of Aston gifts.  This is a fund raiser for them and I think its great to support their efforts.   This shop has official Bond merchandise, Aston Martin posters, shop signs, T-shirts, calendars, cups, and all the usual stuff.

Not everything here is to every owners taste, but it can’t hurt to look.

You can find the shop here.


Car Detailing

A word of warning here.  As a Dad it’s awesome if your 6 yr old son wants to ‘wash’ the car with you, but maybe not the impeccable paint work of an Aston.   The family hauler yes, the fancy sports car maybe no (you can decide for yourself of course).  I would advise against a gift of “I’ll wash your car for you” or “Here’s a coupon for the Quik-Quack car wash at the gas station”.   If you know the Aston owner in your life likes to wash their own car, then here are a few gift suggestions that might work.

Microfiber Car Wash Mitt

Washing a car with a sponge is a bad idea – all the ‘grit’ that comes off the car sticks in the pours of the sponge and becomes essentially sand paper and scratches up the beautiful finish.  The right way to do it is to use a micro fiber car wash mitt.  You can wash the Mitt in the laundry after you wash the car.

I’ve been using these inexpensive Chenille Microfiber car wash mitts for years.  You can get a 2-pack for under $10 USD on Amazon.com.

Microfiber Drying Towel

After washing the car it’s typical to dry it using a towel rather than letting it ‘air’ dry which may leave water spots.  Using an old bath towel can have the same issues as washing the car with a sponge, the old towel collects grit, etc.  A simple solution is to get a set of large format thick Microfiber drying towels made for the purpose.   They are lint free and can absorb a lot of water easily.  When you’re done washing and drying the car, just toss them and your microfiber car wash mitt into the laundry to refresh them to be good as new for next time.

I’ve been using a set of these inexpensive microfiber drying towels for several years. They are 2′ x 3′ in size, and I need two of them to properly dry my Aston.  You can get them for under $10 USD each on Amazon.com.


SlipLo Scrape Guard

Curbs and Aston’s Don’t Play Well Together

A constant concern for most Aston owners is scraping the front nose/bumper as they go in and out of parking lots.  Dragging the nose scrapes up the paint and makes an owner very sad.  For my Aston Martin DB9 I found and inexpensive scrape guard solution that can be added on.  After nearly 2 years in use now its still working perfectly.

Comes as a kit

This is a Do-It-Yourself install so they’d need to be up to putting it on their car.  I’ve created a detailed YouTube video for them to follow along to make it easier (watch that video here).  Anyone can do it in about an hour on a weekend morning.

This isn’t a solution for every Aston Martin – so I’d only get this gift for them if they hinted that they’d like it.

You can purchase a SlipLo kit online for about $72 USD using an Aston1936 promo code art checkout.   Learn more about it in my detailed article here.


Simple Tools on a Budget

Now the fun stuff!  [at least to me]  I like to work on my Aston, and playing with the tools is nearly as much fun as playing with the car.   Some people like to roll up their sleeves and get deep into the work, others might only want to do the basic projects.  Their tools will also reflect this, there is no point getting the fanciest of tools if they are never going to use them.

To start with I have a few inexpensive suggestions for items that ANY owner that works even a bit on their Aston would enjoy having in their tool set.

Magnetic Pickup

Until I had one I never knew how much I would use it.  Dropping a bolt or tool in a tight engine compartment is inevitable.  Getting it picked up can be a huge pain.  Often I can easily fix the issue using this simple magnetic pickup.  Think really strong magnet on the end of a stick.  They telescope to reach deep into places, and some models have heads that swivel as as well,

You can get one of these for a few dollars in the tools aisle at any auto parts store near you.   You can also get one as part of a kit of other useful tools  for under $20 USD on Amazon.com.

LED light with magnetic base

I’ve had flashlights and work lights in my shop for years, but they were never that great.  A lot has changed with the development of LEDs.   I LOVE (and I mean it) my new LED work lights.  Having one or two of these is an ESSENTIAL for any DIY tool set.

The new COB LED work lights are 150 lumens (super bright).  They are small and don’t make any heat.  The one I have has a magnetic base so I can ‘stick’ it to some part of the car where I am working and it just stays there (hands free). 

You can get one of these for under $11 USD on Amazon.com.   Not all LED lights are the same, so I’d actually recommend you get the specific one I have linked here, I know it works great.

They use AAA batteries, so maybe give the light along with a bulk pack of batteries.

Wheel Nut Socket with Protection

If you take the wheels off an Aston Martin, you have to be careful using the socket on the wheel nuts so you don’t scratch the fancy painted wheel rims with the metal of the socket.   If you slip, you can easily mar the finish of the rim with a scratch.  Irritating and expensive to fix.

I’ve started using a wheel nut socket that has a protective plastic outer shell specifically to prevent this from happening.  A simple and effective solution.

Aston Martin wheel nuts come in two sizes though so you’ll need to get the right one.  They typical nut is 22mm, and the optional titanium nuts are 21mm.

Called wheel saver sockets, you can get them individually or in a set:

Drip Tray

If you do even the most basic DIY tasks on your car, you end up having things that drip onto the floor.  Changing the oil, coolant, most any fluid.  Rather than stomping around in it I’ve found a simple and inexpensive solution to make cleanup much easier.   A large thin plastic drip tray.

When I need it I just toss it on the floor under the car where I am working.  When I am done I can wipe it off into the trash, and they stack it up against the wall in the garage easily.

The 2′ x 3′ black plastic tray I use often can be had for under $25 USD on Amazon.com.


Tools to get only if they ask

As I mentioned above, the types of tools a person needs depends on the types of projects they are willing to undertake.  Sometimes it’s a catch 22 situation as well, they would do the project but they don’t have the right tools.  

Below are some tool recommendations for those that are willing to get dirty and do most of the basic service work on their Aston.   To do the typical annual service items these suggestions can make life a lot easier.

I’d only suggest giving one of these items as a gift if they’ve hinted at they’d like one.  Go ahead and ask them – can’t hurt!

Tire Inflator

Checking and setting the tire pressures in an Aston Martin should be done at least once per season.  Checking the pressure would need one tool, adding air another,  and bleeding out air yet another.   Having a Tire Inflator tool combines all of this into one and makes setting your tire pressures exactly much easier.  It has a large easy to read digital display.  Squeeze the handle all the way to add air.  Squeeze it half way to bleed out air.  You need to have at least a small air compressor in your garage to connect up to this.

I highly recommend the one I use, the Jayco FlowPro 2.0 Digital Tire Inflator.   You can get one for about $40 USD from Amazon.com.

Torque Wrenches

If you are really into working on your car, and want to do it right, you need to have Torque wrenches.   A torque wrench allows you to tighten a bolt to a proper and safe level of tightness.   Without one you are just guessing.   I don’t like to guess.  In all my videos and articles I endeavor to provide the designed Aston Martin torque spec for each bolt.  For example 21mm titanium wheel nuts are to be torqued to 133 ft-lbs.

I have three sizes of Torque wrenches – 1/4″ drive, 3/8″ drive, and 1/2″ drive.  Each has a different range of settings and I find I use all three sizes regularly.  If you have three kids, each can get you one.  Or your sweetie can get you one for your birthday, anniversary and Christmas!

You can spend a lot of money on torque wrenches (but you don’t need to).  They make ones with digital displays, ones that indicate when you get close to torque and light up, etc.   But, all you really need are basic ‘micrometer’ style wrenches.   These are the basic ones I have:

Floor Jack

Jacking up a car and working on it is one of the most basic processes. Changing tires, working on the brakes, draining the oil, and the list goes on.   Doing this on an Aston is no small feat as the car sits so low to the ground.  Getting a floor jack that can slip under the side sills and lift the car capably is important.  If your Aston owner is making do with a less than optimal floor jack (like I did for years), then I would highly recommend this option.

A good floor jack for an Aston is low profile (less than 4″), has a large rubber isolated lifting pad, and a wide stance for its wheels.  I good handle with smooth control for lowering is important.   A good floor jack makes it easier to work safer, and is a great investment.

I selected a 2 ton (4,000 lb) aluminum floor jack.  It is merely 3.5″ tall and can rise to 19″.   I purchased mine in person at a Napa Auto Parts store for about $155 USD.  These things are heavy, so buying one online has some hefty shipping charges.   This one from Jegs is available for under $250 USD at Amazon.

Jack Stands

If you are going to work under a car you MUST have a great set of jack stands to protect you.  Never work under a car supported only by the jack.  The easiest way to make this happen is to have a high quality set of jack stands on hand ready to use and keep you safe.

An Aston Martin weighs about 4,000 pounds, so most jack stands rated for 2 tons is a good choice.   Stands should have a max height of at least 16″ so you’ll have room to work underneath.  

You can get stands in a lot of places, including your local auto parts stores.  They are heavy and buying online might have some steep shipping charges.  Regardless, this set of two is less than $32 USD on Amazon with free shipping!  If you have the garage space, I’d suggest getting 2 pairs so you have four matching jack stands of equal height when projects call for it.

Brake Bleeding Bottle

Not ever owner is up to the challenge of bleeding their own brake fluid, but since bleeding the brakes is part of every annual service I suspect many do.   Part of this task requires opening the bleed nipples at each wheel and draining out some messy brake fluid.  Often people use old bits of hose and jars to collect the fluid, and it’s not ideal.  For the last few years I’ve found a way to make it much easier (and neater) using a simple brake fluid bleed bottle.  It comes with the right size and lenth of hose, and has a large magnet that lets you stick it in place on the brake rotor during the task.

You can find one on Amazon for under $38 USD.

Brake Fluid Pressure Bleeder

Bleeding/Flushing the brake fluid is part of every annual service.   Doing it the old fashioned way of having an assistant pump the brake pedal while you open the bleeder valves at the wheels makes it a slow process.   Using a pressurized brake bleeder turns it into a quick one person task.

The one I always use is available for under $55 USD on Amazon.

Transmission Fluid Pump

This is a tool that will make your life easier for one gross and difficult project, changing the automatic transmission fluid (check out my article on this).  I wouldn’t run out and get one of these unless I was planning on doing the project.   You may only use it once or twice, but when you do it’s well worth it.

The one you see me use in the videos is available for about $155 USD on ShopDap.com

OBDII Tools

A modern Aston Martin has over 13 computers in it.  Without a tool to talk to these computers many owners feel frustrated working in the dark essentially.  With one of these tools you can ask the car what’s wrong, and it tells you (sort of).  There are many OBDII tools on the market, but VERY FEW that can actually talk the special codes used by Aston Martin.  Don’t just go get a generic OBDII tool, you’ll be disappointed.

This is such as essential tool for every Aston Martin owners tool box I’ve written extensively about them (check out the article here).  I’ve also created a handful of articles about how to use them and understand the codes, etc. (check them out here).  Honestly, this was the first special tool I bought when I got my Aston.  You should have one.

There are two ODBII tools I use most.   One is a standalone tool, and one is Bluetooth and works through an app on your smart phone.

Foxwell NT510 Elite

The Foxwell NT 510 Elite was the first tool I got that spoke native Aston Martin ODBII codes.   It is a standalone tool.  I’ve written an entire article about it here (check it out).  There are several Foxwell models that can all do the job (NT510, NT530, NT630, etc.).  When purchasing one keep in mind you need to order one with Aston Martin codes.  Just pick this on the check out screen.

You can purchase one online from Foxwell directly for less than $150 USD.

Thinkcar ThinkDiag

I’d been searching for a Bluetooth OBDII tool that worked via an App, hoping they would be smarter and more versatile.   About a year ago I discovered the Thinkcar Thinkdiag tool.   It delivers on many of the promises, and has more capability than the Foxwell.  The Thinkdiag can actually do some of the even fancier tasks that only an Aston Martin dealership computer could do.

I’ve done a full YouTube video on this tool, and you can check it out here.

There is a catch, this unit requires an annual subscription to keep working.  The fee after the first year is about $40 USD per year I think.

You can get one for under $90 USD online from BlackBoxMyCar.com


Hopefully something on this list has given you some inspiration.  Let me know in the comments below.   Happy Holidays!


Video

If you can’t sleep and need some help, here is me doing my best to be interesting while talking about all these gift ideas.  Some interesting clips at least if you choose to check it out.

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