There are so many components in a car that it’s easy to forget about certain parts. One of them is the glove box, which acts as a compartment for storing items. But the glove box has been an integral part of the automobile for decades, with manufacturers still using it today. As cars have changed, glove boxes have changed with them. But did they ever hold gloves and how has their role changed over the years?
Where did the name come from?
In the early part of the 20th century, cars were exposed to the elements and drivers wore gloves to keep their hands clean and comfortable. Some early steering wheels were made out wood, so gloves were practical. The original glove box was located on the floor beneath the driving seat, so drivers would be able to store their gloves before they got out of the car.
During the 1920s, cars with glass windows were becoming commonplace, so the glove box was moved to the firewall, the part of a car that separates the engine compartment from the passenger compartment.
By the 1930s, the glove box was a standard car feature, with it appearing as part of the dashboard. This was a relatively new concept because not all manufacturers included a glove box in the previous decade. 1930s glove boxes were ornate, as some had clocks mounted on the door, while others had fancy metal stripes.
Moving toward the modern era
In the 1950s and ‘60s, glove boxes were adapted to fit the popularity of fast food drive ins. Some cars had glove boxes that featured cup holders for drinks. The purpose of a glove box changed as well, with it being used to store an owner’s manual or a maintenance tool like a tyre pressure gauge.
The glove box would go through another change with the revamping of car audio systems. The number of speakers increased and audio fans, amplifiers and high end receivers were added. Audio equipment could often be found in the glove box.
Very little changed for glove boxes in the 1980s, but more space was added to accommodate new parts. This included an inside cabin filter for the air conditioner. Towards the 1990s, glove boxes became similar to what we see today. The typical glove box is a shelf that lowers down and provides space for whatever you want to store inside.