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In Gear: Our pick of awesome gadgets in October

By Wheels Staff, 21 Oct 2017 Features

In Gear Our pick of awesome gadgets in October

Here is this month's find of automotive gear and gadgets including: some of the most tasteful affordable watches, the cheapest McLaren yet... and Harley Davidson parts in a bottle of gin?

VW Commercial merchandise, $9.50 – $353


If a commercial vehicle brand launches a range of merchandise, it’s normally bar towels and Akubras, but not in the case of Volkswagen. The original split-screen Type 2 might have been a workhorse, but it’s worshipped like an air-cooled deity and VW’s latest branded kit celebrates 68 years of its icon.

With spring around the corner, any picnic or camping trip can be brightened up with a range of dub kit from a Kombi ice cube tray to a four-person tent.

Project Cars 2, $89.95 – $99.95 


Fast cars can be an expensive hobby and if you choose to explore the limits of performance on a public road, it can become really, really expensive. So let’s all thank the people at Bandai Namco for bringing us the second instalment of their Project Cars series.

Pick from 170 different cars and more than 120 track layouts on which to hone and thrash your prized machines with almost spookily realistic graphics and game physics. PC users can even wire in a VR headset for the ultimate in automotive immersion. All this for the cost of a Wheels subscription instead of your licence, second mortgage or life.

Step2 McLaren 570S Push Sports Car, $100 


Getting your kids into cars early makes them better drivers and increases their chances of becoming wealthy racing drivers who can get you free F1 tickets, making this McLaren push car a great investment. Your little one will have to wait a few more years before firing up a turbo V8, but the tiny McLaren 570S by Step2 will get them into fast cars as early as possible. It also has a cup holder for the driver and pusher, which is at least one more than the real thing.

The Archaeologist Gin, $1489 


Thought a deconstructed latte was the most nauseatingly hipster drink you’ve ever heard of? Think again. The last time a chunk of motorbike was found in someone’s tipple it followed an unfortunate incident at a men’s shed, but a distiller is now doing it deliberately. Immersing vintage Harley Davidson parts in gin does not impart any interesting flavours and probably accounts for a majority of its vicious price. We can’t think of a single reason to buy, but probably will anyway.

Seiko SRPB09K ‘Blue Lagoon’, $750


Seiko’s roots lie in a small clock repair shop opened in Tokyo’s Ginza district by Kintaro Hattori in 1877: it went on to make some of the world’s most radical, innovative, and accurate watches.

It beat the Swiss makers for quality and accuracy, triumphed in the Geneva trials of 1968, and then made the world’s first quartz watch the following year. Unlike many Swiss names, all Seiko parts are made in-house, including the lubricants. This new automatic diver’s watch is easily a match for Swiss pieces at ten times the price.

Limited to 6000 units worldwide, it traces its roots to Seiko’s famous 1960’s auto divers’ watches. They were favoured by US special forces in Vietnam, so Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard wore one in Apocalypse Now.

Hanhart Pioneer Preventor9, $1350 (depending on exchange rate)


Hanhart began making watches in Germany in the 1920s, and was known for its sporting stopwatches and pilot’s watches. Jack Heuer liked them so much he tried to buy the business, and Steve McQueen liked them so much he chose to buy his own. The Heuer Monaco McQueen famously wore in Le Mans came free from the props department.

Unlike TAG Heuer, with its vast marketing budget, tiny Hanhart can’t afford the image rights to any of the many pictures of keen pilot McQueen wearing his own Hanhart. This Preventor9 is a simple ‘three-handed’ automatic in the classic German ‘flieger’ pilots’ style. Unusually, the seconds sub-dial is at 9 o’clock, recalling wartime designs in which shortages forced Hanhart to drop the sub-dial on the other side.

Elliot Brown Tyneham, $1150 (depending on exchange rate)


When UK-based Elliot Brown sent us one of their quartz Canfords to test, we couldn’t figure out how they can sell such a high-quality watch for less than $1000 and still make a profit. You’d have to spend many multiples of that to get something Swiss that is appreciably better, or more robust (or has a nicer box).

Their new Tyneham is more expensive because it has a Japanese Miyota automatic movement – also often found in much pricier watches – and an even higher standard of finish, and thus remains seriously good value. Keep in mind that the sterling prices quoted on their website include a 20 percent UK Value Added Tax, which will be knocked off for shipments to Australia.