Glove boxes are special compartments that automotive manufacturers have built into cars and trucks to store things. Most have doors that open or close with the push of a pushbutton latch or simple twist. Today most glove boxes can be locked so valuable objects can be safely stashed.
The name is derived from the original purpose – to store gloves and other accessories. You see, in the early days of motoring, many models of cars were open convertibles. With vehicles like this, a driver’s hands could be subjected to cool, fast moving air and this could be uncomfortable –especially in the winter.
Automotive historians trace the beginnings of glove boxes back to the early 1900s. In the sales literature for their 1900 Packards, the following text could be found; “The body of the Packard carriage shows the best possible coachwork and upholstering. Instead of a leather dash, there is a boot or box forming part of the dash. This provides ample space for parcels, waterproofs, etc.”
Over the years, the original purpose for glove boxes has evolved. Gloves are not the necessity that they used to be but having a predictable spot in a car to store things is still wanted by the motoring public. Today, “the glove box” has become the standard location to store things like automotive documents, owner’s manuals, car registrations and other things.
You may find it interesting that the term “glove box” is not universal. In the US Northeast, glove boxes are called “jockey boxes”. In Britain, where a lot of car features have different names than they do in the US they are commonly referred to as “cubby holes.”
For several decades now most glove boxes had internal lights that automatically turned on when the box was opened. This could be a tremendous help to those who needed to dig around in the box at night to retrieve things.
In the 1960s and 1970s, many glove boxes had a simple indented area on their doors so that when they were folded down, cups could be placed there. Unfortunately, these shallow impressions did not stabilize cups very well when vehicles were being driven. It is a logical conclusion to say this likely lead to the development of “cup holders.”
Glove boxes have gone high-tech too. In the 2008 model year, Dodge installed “Chill Zone” glove compartments in its Avenger sedans. The Chill Zone was actually a large refrigerated beverage storage bin housed in the passenger-side upper dash. It had a series of folding doors and could hold as many as four 12-ounce beverage cans. As interesting as this concept was, it is not being produced anymore.
As for the future, it’s hard to tell where we might see the glove box evolve. As with all things automotive, the only constant “is change itself” so we will to have to be patient. That being said, the glove box is unlikely to be eliminated.
Thanks to: Metro Kia
Image by Idaho National Laboratory