Why Is it Called a Glove Box?

by Bud Maxwell

In the early days of the automobile the use of gloves was considered essential, not only as a style statement for the discriminating, often wealthy driver wearing a pair of white, gauntlet gloves, but also for utility reasons to keep the hands warm. Many early automobiles didn't come with heaters, and driver and occupants were forced to dawn heavy gloves to protect their hands.

What is a Glove Box?

The glove box, sometimes referred to as the glove compartment, is a sealed, or unsealed container inside an automobile used for storage. Most modern cars have sealed glove boxes, but the Jeep Wrangler, for example, even in recent models, have glove boxes, or portions of the box that do not have a door.

Glove Box History

There's not a lot of printed information available to show when the first glove boxes were included in automobiles, or even which makes and models had them. It is clear, however, the reason for having a glove box in your car. Many early vehicles did not have enclosed cabs and driving to church with the family on those cold Sunday mornings required everyone to wear a pair of gloves. It just makes sense to keep the gloves in a special compartment in the car so they would always be handy.

Jockey Box

In England, and in certain areas of the northwest United States, glove boxes are still referred to as "jockey boxes.". The World Detective website is one of few that offers a plausible explanation for this term. A jockey, of course, is a person who works with horses, and according the this site, the term jockey carried over to include one who works on horseless carriages. A bit of a stretch, possibly, but it's the only explanation available.

Glove Box Design

For those who can remember the glove boxes that came in cars in the 1940s through the '70s, you'll recall they were oftentimes large and always secured by heavy metal doors with locks. Sometime during the '70s car makers starting including shallow cup holders on the back side of these doors. The Buick Electra, made sometime during the '70s had one such feature. The problem with those containers is they were so shallow the cup would fall easily, even during a curve on a highway, much unlike the deep holders in cars today.

Modern Uses

It's likely if you looked in a sample of glove boxes in today's cars few pairs of gloves would be found. Vehicle registration, insurance papers, sunglasses, pens, paper and maps are more the probable items carried in modern-day glove boxes. Owners of convertibles may use the locking feature on glove boxes more than those who own hardtops, for obvious reasons.

About the Author

Bud Maxwell is an editor and novelist who finds his tranquil lifestyle on Catalina Island the perfect setting for writing. Maxwell serves as an editor for local Catalina publications and is currently focusing the majority of his work on screenplays. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of dave_7