Last minute Christmas gifts for the petrol-head in your life…

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Last Minute Christmas Gifts For The Petrol-Head In Your Life… Last Minute Christmas Gifts For The Petrol-Head In Your Life…
In a world where we suddenly can’t get out as much, and where driving is suddenly frowned upon, Forza Horizon 5 is a welcome bit of widescreen sim relief. 
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Neil Briscoe

Yes, there are just seven shopping days left till the big day itself, and that means that the stopwatch is ticking on your Christmas shopping. Helpfully, if you’ve got someone in your house who’s a car-nut, we have a handy selection of gift ideas right here, priced from as little as €10 to pretty much whatever you fancy spending…

Forza Horizon 5 for Xbox

I appear to be driving along a country road, and according to the incredibly legible road sign, breaking the local speed limit.

Nothing too unusual in that, expect for the fact that I also appear to be driving a Lancia 037 — one of the wildest, fastest, craziest rally cars of all time. We, the Lancia and I, are going terribly quickly. Of course, it’s a simulation.

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Actually, it’s Forza Horizon 5, the latest driving simulator for the Xbox gaming console, and it is staggeringly realistic. I don’t even have one of those sim-rig steering wheel and pedal sets, but the little controller in my hand is nonetheless pitching and pointing the Lancia’s blunt nose into every corner, while my thumbs are catching ever twitch and slide of that oh-so-mobile rear end.

It’s immersively fabulous. Of course, you don’t have to drive a Lancia. Fancy popping about in a Ferrari P3/4? You can do that. Or race off-road in a Ford Raptor? You can do that too. In a world where we suddenly can’t get out as much, and where driving is suddenly frowned upon, Forza Horizon 5 is a welcome bit of widescreen sim relief.

Xbox — Console from €299 from outlets such as gamestop.ie and smythstoys.com

Forza Horizon 5 — game from €59.99 from outlets, or as part of the Xbox Gaming Pass, €12.99 per month, from xbox.com

HeelTread socks and underwear

We’ve been huge fans of HeelTread’s range of motorsport and sports car-inspired socks for quite some time now, and the range keeps expanding.

Fancy socks that look like a 1991 Minardi Formula One car? You can have those. Or perhaps a pair that mimics the little screen in the car from ‘Knight Rider’? You can have that too.

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HeelTread has spread its product wings a little this year too, with new items such as key fobs, polo shirts, and — yes — even underwear. If you’d like your buttocks snuggled by VW Golf GTI tartan, then step smartly this way…

HeelTread socks from €10, underwear from €26 — heeltread.com

Action days out

Assuming we can all still get out, there’s nothing quite so awesome for any petrolhead as getting behind the wheel and letting it all hang out. Thankfully, we know of a couple of places where not only can you do that safely, but you might learn a thing or three as well…

Mondello Park, Ireland’s only FIA-certified racing circuit, has a series of driving day experiences, ranging from open-wheel racing cars, to Porsche experiences, to BMW M-Car driving, and even a new Ferrari driving experience. There’s also rally driving, drifting, and virtual racing experiences too.

Prices from €65 and up — mondellopark.ie

Further north, up in Co Monaghan, there’s Rally School Ireland, which is where one goes if one wants to learn how to drive using only the side windows. You can progress through various rally driving courses, using the schools classic MkII Escorts and Subarus, or there’s the wild Ariel Nomad if you fancy a bit of al fresco driving (bring waterproofs…). If you want to pit your wits against the 5-0, there’s a drifting course with a fabulously sideways Nissan 350Z dolled up to look like a police car, or you can take on the tight adn technical super-stage in a Porsche 911 — complete with Martini-style stripe colour scheme. For younger drivers, there’s a Ford Ka experience (for anyone aged 10 and up) or you can try and master the mighty V8-engined BMW M3.

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Prices from €130 and up — rallyschoolireland.ie

Reading material.

It’s always good to get a book at Christmas, and helpfully there are some absolute crackers out this year. Northern Irish writer Maurice Hamilton’s biography of the late, lamented Murray Walker — Murray Walker: Incredible! — is not merely a charting of the great F1 commentator’s life and career, but a wonderful look back at Formula One through the decades, and the huge influence that Murray had on the sport he loved. We dare you not to have a tear in your eye, reading this one.

Murray Walker: Incredible!, by Maurice Hamilton. Published by Penguin. Approx €21 from all good book shops.

There’s a curious affection for Ford in the land of the motoring enthusiast — for a mainstream, everyday brand, the Blue Oval seems to have a disproportionate effect on the heart-strings of car nuts.

No wonder, then, that Steve Saxty (a former Ford designer turned writer) has had such success with his books on the history of Ford’s design work through the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties.

His latest — Secret Fords Volume Two — takes the reader behind the scenes in Ford’s design offices, planning departments, and board-rooms as the company struggles to make the ’91 Escort, comes up with the amazing ’93 Mondeo, and hits the heights with the ’98 Focus.

There’s even the never-before heard tale of the 1985 plan to make a stunningly gorgeous mid-engined Ferrari rival. We could call this required reading, but frankly that undersells it…

Secret Fords: Volume Two, by Steve Saxty. Published by the author. From £69.99 at stevesaxty.com

 

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