January 16, 2021


This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

The holidays are right around the corner, and maybe you’re still struggling with what to get your car-obsessed loved one. Maybe you saw our other list for gifts under $100 and thought that you’d like to go a bit bigger for the auto tragic in your life. Well, we Roadshow editors have got your back. This is a list of our favorite gift ideas under $500 and it includes everything from see-through engine models to video game consoles to be able to play the latest crop of racing games.

Read more: Best cars and trucks of 2020 


BMW’s classic airhead engine design is one of motorcycling’s most beautiful and iconic, and I’ll be damned if I don’t want to celebrate those incontrovertible facts by having a half-scale see-through one spinning away on my desk. This looks like it would be epic fun to build and a real conversation starter.

— Kyle Hyatt

Arcade 1Up

Nostalgia is a powerful force. A little retro gaming might be just what the doctor ordered for this pandemic-era holiday, and Arcade1Up’s new Outrun cabinet looks like a great way to brighten up the season. Squeaking in under our price cap at $499.99, this cabinet features Outrun, Turbo Outrun, Outrunners and Power Drift, plus there’s a detachable seat if you’ve got the room for that full arcade experience.

Nearly a year ago, I bought an Arcade1Up Galaga cabinet. I’ve been impressed by how much the slightly-downscaled setup replicates that ’80s arcade feel at minimal cost. Unfortunately, I’m probably not the only one, as the first batch of Outrun cabinets has already been spoken for. That said, if your holiday is like mine, out-of-stock rainchecks are a family tradition.

— Chris Paukert


It’s become increasingly clear that, unless you’re exclusively into the Gran Turismo series — a difficult place to be these days — the Xbox is the best place to be for those who love driving games. Whether it be the latest from the Forza franchise or the stellar SnowRunner, this is the console to have. Sure, there’s not much out there that takes advantage of the power the Series X has to offer yet, but that’ll change soon enough, and your special recipient will be mighty glad you splurged on their behalf when those games come.

— Tim Stevens


I’m declaring war on nasty-looking dashcams that hang down like a tacked-on appendage. I’ve also warmed to the idea that a dashcam needs to cover your six, not just the road ahead. The Vantrue S1 gets me there with an integrated look, rear camera, low-light Sony sensor, and supercapacitor instead of a typical internal battery for more reliable power when the car is off. It also has an internal GPS sensor to record car location during a captured incident or for route playback as


So you want to make your car’s UV rays-battered plastic trim look new again. Great, because there’s a fine selection of trim restorer products that will do just the trick. These products are meant to restore exterior plastic trim to a dark, deep black color you see when the car rolls off the production line. Over time, the sun’s harmful UV rays, dirt, car washes and the elements in general cause plastic parts to fade to a rather unattractive light (and sometimes chalky) gray.

But it doesn’t have to shake out that way. Read on below for Roadshow’s top picks.


Cerakote makes big promises. Number one, this is not a dressing for exterior trim. Instead, it’s a coating to restore faded plastic trim on the exterior of a vehicle. Number two, Cerakote calls this a ceramic coating to combat faded car plastic and provide UV protection. Big, fancy buzzwords, for sure.

However, these little car trim restorer wipes pack a big punch. Like it says, this isn’t a dressing, but a protective coating that restores the plastic trim. I found the plastic restorer works well on grainy exterior plastic parts, but isn’t the best for smoother plastic trim. That might be better with an actual dressing. But, overall, the results of this protective coat are amazing when you follow the directions exactly and give it time to cure.


I like both the dressing and this spray version of Meguiar’s Ultimate Black Plastic Restorer, but I chose this version because it works perfect for faded trim areas like a vehicle’s grille. Grilles often feature tricky trim piece patterns that it would be impossible, or at least tedious, to apply a dressing to. Using a plastic trim restorer spray product provides better results.

The only downside with Ultimate Black is its staying power. It’s definitely not permanent and you’ll need to reapply it on black trim after some time. However, at $12, Meguiar’s Ultimate Black is an exterior trim restorer that’s worth its price.


I dig Carfidant’s Trim & Plastic Restorer. Foremost, it’s nice the folks at the company include an applicator. It’s just one less thing to worry about if you’re not a hardcore detailer and don’t have tons of them lying around. But the trim restorer product itself works well and it’s super easy to apply to parts of the car some of the other picks on this list don’t do well with.

Specifically, plastic trim rubber around windows is perfect for Carfidant’s product and it’s an area the sun’s UV rays like to damage. Right now, it’s $8 off, so grab it while you can.


This trim restorer stuff is flat-out expensive, but I enjoyed the results. A little does not go a long way and it took more than I’d like to use from the bottle. However, the results on black plastic and black trim are spectacular.

The deep, dark black look Lithium Trim Restorer & Protectant provides is unlike anything else on this