When the motorcar began to make its appearance during the 1890s, driving was a very cold occupation during winter weather, as there was no internal heating in cars until the 1930s.
Wearing the Gauntlet glove in various forms was the obvious choice for the motorist, covering the wrist and fitting over the warm overcoat.
It could be lined in various warm linings: wool, fur and lambskin. The leather, being a thick heavy type, did not allow any great sensitivity of feel; probably not so important in the early days as the steering mechanism would not have been very sensitive, and movement would have been rather crude requiring a strong grip of the wheel.
As the heating in cars developed, a short type of glove became popular, made in thin lightweight leather and tight fitting, often with perforations to help keep the hands cool, and with rows of stitching on the palm to help the grip on the wheel. This glove allowed the driver to experience a firm hold of the wheel without using a great deal of gripping strength, and he or she could appreciate the lighter, more sensitive steering developed in modern cars. Over the years the manufacturers also realised that a gripping non-slip surface covering the wheel was a great help and safety factor, and this appears on cars from the 1960s onwards.
General fashion too had its effect, and during the “Swinging 60s” the ‘cut out’ back styles were very popular indeed, and this was a feature of driving gloves for a decade. This style has recently enjoyed something of a resurgence.
With the advantage of very efficient heating during the 1970s/1980s and a good non-slip surface on the steering wheel, the popular fashion of wearing gloves for general driving has somewhat declined, however, we would still find today a pair of lightweight driving gloves in the glove compartment of many car owners.
Jack Brabham Driving Gloves c1964-1974
Do you have gloves in your car?
Sarah, Dents Museum Curator