Former 'Seinfeld' Writer Dissects the Ins and Outs of Gifting a Car for the Holidays

Courtesy of Porsche; Inset: Jim Spellman/WireImage
Porsche (inset: Spike Feresten)

The host of Spike's 'Car Radio' podcast shares his etiquette tips for gifting vehicles around the holidays.

When is it appropriate and when is it not appropriate to gift a car for the holidays? In Hollywood, the gift you get is equal to how much money you are making your boss. The ratio is: the more money you make the person or the network, the better the car. 

Anyone in Hollywood making someone else a lot of money should be on the receiving end of such a gift as a car. If you are propping up a dinosaur of the network — and getting them great ratings — they should be getting you a car. If you are getting a streamer a lot of notice, they should be getting you a car. You have to make someone $100 million to get a really nice car. 

If you are buying a car for someone in the industry, you have to take a lot of factors into consideration — namely, making sure the person likes the make and model of the car and, most important, the color palette. Other bigger-picture issues people don’t think of: Take care of the taxes and the license fees. No one wants to deal with that. And lastly, don’t make them get the car from the dealership — send the car to them and have them sign for it. You don’t want to make a wonderful gift a horrible burden by getting them something they don’t like.

A car, motorcycle or jet ski as a gift is a very common gift to a comedian for doing a gig or helping out. They get a little money and then they also get the gift. You really have to know what this person likes: I mean, do they really like three-wheel bikes? If not, it becomes this weird gift with a lot of negative feelings associated with it and it ends up thrown away or regifted. I have seen it happen and I’ve been the recipient of the regift. Unless it’s a very well-chosen vehicle, people won’t want it.

Recently, a star of a network show gave the president of the network a car. They did their research and the network head was happy. Their show will not get canceled for many, many years.

My first year with Car Matchmaker, I received a nice pair of driving gloves; the second year, I got one of those fancy hipster Yeti coolers — I knew I was doing OK with them. The closest I’ve ever gotten to getting a car, though, was when Jerry Seinfeld gifted me a Porsche mountain bike after helping him write a Mercedes-Benz commercial. I loved that bike.

However, I did secure a Porsche GT2RS for Gordon Ramsay in exchange for his coming on my podcast. He hasn’t come on the podcast yet. He received the car and hasn’t yet graced the show with his presence. I trust he will honor his commitment.

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.