Like my jackets (of which I have about 50 now), I also have an extensive collection of driving gloves.
Each time I go to Super Autobacs Tokyo Bay Shinonome, I buy a pair of FET Sports driving gloves. I have four of them now--three of these are worn out, but I still keep them. Whenever Excellar Automotive Enterprises or any of my favorite local parts retailers have lifestyle accessories on sale, I buy a pair of thin workman’s/mechanic's gloves because they also do well as driving gloves. When Phil Autoperformance opened its doors, I picked up a pair of karting gloves, too. And when I raced in the very first Toyota Vios Cup, I got a pair of OMP driving gloves.
With so many gloves (about 10 pairs and still growing), one wonders when I wear them, right? Surprisingly, I use them very often. Many of our readers, friends and colleagues often chide me about this, regardless of what car I am driving. So, to put this to rest, here are the reasons, in order of importance, as to why I use gloves:
1) It helps set the right sort of mood.
Driving is always going to be serious business. Sure, we drive for fun and leisure, but focus and concentration are of still of utmost importance--particularly when you have a powerful RWD car with issues hooking up unless the road is smooth and dry.
Donning driving gloves when going on a fun run, track day or a dynamic drive abroad reminds me that I should focus, stop minding my phone, follow the lead car and listen to the driving instructors. It's the same thing when you're driving long distances with family and friends and you need to stay alert. Gloves are, for me, a reminder that driving is a serious, conscious and deliberate activity that requires us to be on top of things.
2) It feels good.
Have you ever experienced driving a purpose-built sports car or supercar with a suede-covered steering wheel? The tactile experience is hard to beat. And trust me when I say it feels even better with suede driving gloves.
Much like getting used to being strapped in a proper five-point harness or wearing a racing suit and helmet, you feel secure, and thus know good things are coming your way. I attended a drift clinic in Sepang last year, and constantly sawing behind the wheel was tiresome and disorienting. The suede gloves helped give me confidence and comfort as I felt in control of the car despite the very chaotic (yet fun) scenario I was placed in.
3) It gives better grip, thus better control and more confidence.
Drive any of the current crop of mass-market cars and you'll find that vinyl/faux leather steering wheels tend to become slippery (especially with your sweat rubbing on them). Gloves prevent your hands from slipping and sliding on the steering wheel during quick transitions or when you need to make minute corrections to tame under/oversteer--as I did, balancing grip at the edge of adhesion on a banked oval with executive editor Dinzo Tabamo on board.
4) It is being courteous to the next driver.
Probably the most important reason I wear gloves is because my hands get clammy (pasmado). A great car, a great road or drive always excites me, so my palms get sweaty. If my palms get sweaty, the steering wheel becomes slippery, too. Thus, as mentioned earlier, the gloves remedy this. But most importantly, when I need to hand over the car I’ve been driving to someone else, I eliminate all possible traces of my slippery (and possibly smelly) DNA from the steering wheel, so it feels dry and clean for the next user.
What if the steering feel was made of soft, supple leather (or worse, suede or Alcantara)? Imagine how disgusting that would be if I left my sweat all over it. Now you see why I always wear gloves.
In addition, having gloves is always handy when you need to change a flat tire so your hands and nails don't get dirty, the tools don't slip, and your fingers won’t get burned if you need to reach into deep dark places to retrieve a tool, nut or bolt.
If you're as unlucky as I am, you might have already burnt your hands and fingers just by opening the hood. So yes, gloves will always be an important driving accessory for me, and so should it be for you!