The History of Driving Gloves & 4 GOOD Reasons Why You STILL Need Them Today
Hello and welcome, if you’re reading this blog article the chances are you are interested in learning more about driving gloves, specifically the history behind them and why they still prove useful today.
Well, my friends you have come to the right place as we will cover all this in great detail below.
THE HISTORY OF DRIVING GLOVES
Driving gloves were first introduced in 1890, reason being most cars of the time were convertibles and early versions of the car heating system as we know them today did not become mainstream until the 1970s / 1980s.
At that time steering wheels were commonly made from unprotected materials such as bare metal, which were incredibly hard on the hands during different seasons.
For example, during winter it would become extraordinarily cold on the hands, and difficult to grip your hands around the wheel.
During summer the wheel could become very slippery with sweat, not only that but the bare metal wheel when exposed to direct sunlight could become so hot a driver would be unable to touch it.
For steering wheels made from wood it also protected the drivers hands from splinters.
The first iteration of driving gloves looked very much like a gauntlet glove, and were heavily lined with a layer of wool, fur or lambskin.
It was not as important in the old days as it is today, to feel the sensitivity of the steering wheel when driving, instead a strong firm quality grip took precedence.
Early race cars did not have dedicated racing designed steering wheels, instead they took them directly from the normal road going models.
As stated above they were usually made from wood or bare metal, hence the need for hand protection in the form of driving gloves.
Dorothy Levitt, was a feminist and car enthusiast who forged her way into the history books as Britain’s first female racing driver.
She held the record for the longest drive achieved by a lady by driving a De Dion-Bouton from London to Liverpool and back over two days.
She had this to say Regarding driving gloves –
“Never wear woollen gloves, but gloves made of good soft kid. You will find room for these gloves in the little drawer under the seat of the car.”
Dorothy Levitt can also be partially credited for the early adaptation and use of what we know today as the rear-view mirror.
This is what she had to say in her 1909 book The Woman and the Car which noted that women should –
“carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving” so they may “hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic”.
Driving Gloves are the reason for the term Glove Box that we still use today. The name derives from its original purpose which was to store driving gloves.
Sometimes they were also in a box on the floorboard near the driver, hence the word “Glove Box”.
WHY YOU NEED THEM TODAY
After reading the above you may be thinking to yourself, why would I need driving gloves in today’s modern age? After all your steering wheel is nicely covered.
During the cold winter months or hot summer days chances are you’re sitting comfortably in a climate-controlled vehicle.
However, there are more reasons than you may think why driving gloves are still a relevant accessory even today, below I have listed the 5 reasons why –
1) Professional Racing Drivers still wear specialised driving gloves today, reason being even though the steering wheel offers ample grip under normal daily driving, however when you introduce eye watering speeds and millisecond reaction times, all you need is one slip and it could cost you the race or worse your life.
2) On average the ordinary driver will only use their vehicle for a relatively low number of hours per week, usually these hours would include commuting back and forth from their place of work, then recreational activities on the weekends.
However, once you consider the professional driver who covers thousands of miles per week, things change and you have to consider the wear and tear on the hands.
In situations such as these Driving Gloves prevents hand fatigue as well as blisters and calluses.
They do this by reducing the vibration the driver feels through the wheel, and by acting as a barrier between your skin and the steering wheel, again this may not sound that important but factor in hundreds of hours at the wheel gripping and turning and it can soon add up and takes its toll on your hands.
3) Driving Gloves also help to maintain the material wrapped around your steering wheel. whether your wheel is wrapped in leather / suede or made from a highly polished wood, your body will secrete natural oils which overtime will wear away at the material diminishing the aesthetics and the potential resale value of the vehicle.
4) You also have to take into consideration that driving gloves look cool, they are a fashion statement as well as a useful utility.
On top of all the reasons mentioned above in my humble opinion they add a certain element of style to whoever I see wearing them behind the wheel.
This of course is my personal opinion however I fail to see how anyone would be at a disadvantage if they did decide to don a pair and go out for a quick summer spin.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF DRIVING GLOVES
UNLINED – This design allows the drivers fingers to get a better sense and feel for the road and the movements of the wheel.
LINED – These help keep the drivers hands warm, this can be particularly helpful not only in winter but during those summer days when the convertible roof is down and there’s a chill in the air, can provide an extra layer of insulation and as a result comfort.
FULL FINGERED – This design speaks for itself a glove that fits around the whole hand all the way down to the tips of the fingers
FINGERLESS – This design helps with gripping the steering wheel while maintaining the sensation of the road while driving.