Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The unrecognized (and much used) glovebox

In the age of global position systems and sonar proximity sensors, one feature is still pretty much the same as it has been since automobiles were called "horseless carriages" — the glove compartment.

The makers of Packard's earliest horseless carriages probably didn't know, or even care, but according to auto historians, they basically invented the glove compartment. Turn-of-the-century tire-kickers considering a 1900 Packard were promised soft and stylish storage for their traveling accoutrements. "The body of the carriage shows the best possible coachwork and upholstering," boasted the original sales literature from the Packard dealership. "Instead of a leather dash, there is a boot or box forming part of the body. In this is ample space for parcels, waterproofs, etc."

The glove compartment, or the glove box, as it's often called, is perhaps one of the most misrepresented parts of the automobile, being that gloves have always been only a small part of its inventory. Over the past century, these mini car closets have been used to store handbags, driving goggles, six packs of beer, sunglasses, keys to other cars, cell phones, and even small dogs.

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