You may have never realized this, but a coffee table book can actually be a fantastic present for a car lover. Coffee table books are usually oversized books that include huge, full page pictures of fine art quality photographs of the books' subjects. This eye candy will sometimes be supplemented with easy to read, interesting essays about the history or culture surrounding the subject, full of interesting trivia and facts. If you know a hard core car fanatic and an actual car is nowhere near in your budget, pick up a big, thick volume full of sweet automotive pics.
Art of the Formula 1 Race Car
If your car lover is a race car enthusiast, pick up author Stuart Codling and photographer James Mann's collaboration Art of the Formula 1 Race Car. This heavy tome has over 200 pages of giant, full color photographs of 18 Formula 1 race cars shot in studios all over the United Kingdom. The photos include artful shots of the cars' chassis design, engines and driver's compartments, as well as historical photographs detailing the development of the cars. The book also includes lots of technical information for car buffs and has received positive reviews from CNN, the Motor Sports Forum and Autocar, including several other places.
American Custom Cars
If your car enthusiast is into building cars rather than racing, choose American Custom Cars by Pat Ganahl. This book is chock full of detailed pictures of customized cars from all over the United States, including some interviews with the people who made them special.
Car Crashes & Other Sad Stories
If you are looking for something a bit different to present to your car lover, check out Taschen's Car Crashes & Other Sad Stories. This book is a collection of the photographs of Mell Kilpatrick, a part time movie projectionist and full time news photographer who took pictures of car crashes for the highway patrol and insurance companies during the 1940s and '50s. These tragic photographs look like they could have come directly from a film noir.