Oy, that’s a tough one, although a very good question. I’d appreciate suggestions from everyone on this, it should be fun!
It really depends on what type of knowledge you want to beat your man at. Is it technical, historical, or just general details? Anyway, here are a few that come to mind.
1) I realize that in America not everyone knows how to drive a manual transmission (come on, americans). If that’s your case, then learn how to, properly. If you’re European that’s already taken care of I’m sure.
2) Get technical. Learn specific details about the cars he’s interested in, namely torque and horsepower figures (and the difference between the two), RWD or FWD, and so on. Dropping these details when you spot a specific car on the street makes a man proud.
3) Probably the most important, as you can woo pretty much anyone with this one: learn about 5 or 6 really iconic cars and a few details about them. Classics
such as the Jaguar E-Type, the Mercedes 300SL, the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, to name a few, all have very interesting stories behind them and recognizing them is absolutely crucial. Extra points if you can memorize their designers.
4) Get to know some facts about apparently mundane details… which are not. For example, the famous cloverleaf symbol that Alfa Romeo uses on its fastest cars. When you spot one, you can tell the story of Alfa’s driver Ugo Sivvoci, who in 1923 painted a cloverleaf on its car to bring him good luck at the Targa Florio event — which he won. You can also learn about the story of the Mercedes Benz 3 pointed star (a bit longer, which you can find here).
5) Watch a few onboard laps of well known race tracks (Nurburgring, Spa, Silverstone, Monza, to name a few) and be amazed at how fast good drivers go through some of the corners. You can simply say that you’re impressed at the fearless drives through Spa’s Eau Rouge or the Nurburgring’s Karussell, any man will drop at your knees afterwards pretty much immediately :)
As I’ve said, it all comes down to his interests, but hopefully you’ve got a few pointers now. Don’t try to learn if you’re genuinely not interested though, as it may be… well, rather boring!