There are gloveboxes that are an opening in the dash above the front passenger’s feet, but the majority have doors that open and close with an easy twist or push of a pushbutton latch. In the modern day, most glove boxes can be locked so valuables may be safely stored.
Automotive makers have built gloveboxes into cars for a number of decades. The “glovebox” name comes from the original purpose of the compartment – glove storage. You see, in motoring’s early days, many car models were open; meaning that they lacked tops, or they had partial convertible tops. With vehicles like these, a vehicle operator’s hands could be subjected to the cooling effects of fast-moving air and this could get uncomfortable.
Automotive historians trace the beginning of glove boxes to the Packard Motor Company, which created items like the present-day gloveboxes in the 1900s. The term “glove box” is not universal, though. In Britain, they are usually referred to as “cubby holes.” In the Northwest United States, glove boxes are called “jockey boxes”. An alternative term in the western world is “glove compartment.” This is a term that the folks at this Downington, PA Subaru Dealer often come across!
For many decades, glove boxes were made with internal lights that turned on when one opened the unit. This was a huge help to those who needed to dig around in the box at night for access to documents or other items.
In the 1960s and 1970s, many glove boxes had an embossed area on their doors so that when one folded them down, cups could have been placed on the door. Unfortunately, these shallow impressions did not stabilize cups well when vehicles were being driven. It’s a logical conclusion to say they these attempts at water or soft drink stabilization lead to the design and implementation of the cup holders you see in just about all cars these days.
And glove boxes have obtained technology features, too. For the 2008 model year, Dodge placed “Chill Zone” glove compartments into their Avengers. The Chill Zone was a large refrigerated storage bin located in the passenger’s side upper dash. The Chill Zone had a number of folding doors and could hold up to four twelve-ounce cans of your favorite soda.
Also, Nissan has glove compartments on some of their models. Targeting younger drivers, the Rogue and Sentra sedan both have glove compartments deep enough for laptop computers. That capability has been created to help drivers who want a safe and secure place to secure their laptops when they are driving.
As you can see, the glovebox’s purpose has changed throughout the years. You don’t need gloves to drive anymore, so gloveboxes serve as a predictable spot in a car for item storage. Today, glove boxes have become the place to store automotive documents, such as car registrations, and other items. As for the future, it’s hard to tell where we may see the glove box evolve, but we can only predict that they’ll be around for a long time!