There’s some recurring design elements in these old car brochures that are worth pointing out, because they’re effectively gone today, or, in some cases, have mutated into something quite familiar, yet very different. The one I want to talk about now is The Floating Glove. See it up there in that 1954 Renault 4CV brochure? It’s in the trunk and by the shifter. That. The glove.
The floating glove was used as a way to show where and how to grab things, like, in this case, luggage or the shifter. Sometimes you’d see versions of it grabbing knobs on dashboards or tracing out shift patterns. It was sort of an alternative to an arrow for things that required direct hand manipulation. The fact it’s a glove was a workaround from having to draw an actual severed human hand, which likely may have creeped out people who enjoy choosing a car without seeing dismemberments.
I think the idea has adapted into the modern era with the various hand cursor icons that have come up in the age if graphical computer interfaces, with the most common variant starting with Susan Kare’s pioneering work for the Macintosh in the early 1980s.
You know what else is interesting about this pic? The spare tire location on the 4CV. As you can see, it started on the underside of the hood, which must have made the hood heavy and awkward to lift. By 1956, they moved it, which you can see here (1960 example but it’s the same):
Also, that funny-shaped suitcase in the 1954 pic is a funny visual cheat there. Who has suitcases like that? I think the battery moved in front of the tire in the later version, too. There’s also a bit of crash protection that comes from the tire being vertical and up front, too. I mean, in a 4CV, you should take whatever you can get.
Looks like that tire may weigh all of like 15 lbs. Even writers should be able to pick that up with one hand
But … what kind of weird rim is the spare tyre mounted on? Renault 4CV’s appear to have a very odd wheel design indeed.
It’s like any old pre 1967 VW or pre 1964 Porsche, only with an even bigger distace between the bolts.
The majority of the “wheel” is actually the brake drum with 5 studs in a star shape that matches up with the holes the wheel rim. Berkeleys use the same wheel setup.
A great old Ford ad I’ve always liked features not a floating but an embodied glove shifting. It’s a very ’60s glove, so it’s holes-on-the-knuckles style and is connected to a sweatered arm. “Fairlane’s Sunday Punch”, I think the copy read.
Such a brilliant combination of mundane things to signal sporting performance, and relate to the person actually involved (which is rare these days, as everything in that vein now is about the vehicle, not the driver…fitting what driving is fast becoming I guess).
Bespoke luggage was a thing back then. Every Mercedes Gull-wing owner gets a set made (if they don’t still have the original ones).
I’m willing to bet a baguette and a roundel of camembert that post-war Renaults didn’t come with matching luggage.
I’d have added a bottle of rouge if I wasn’t thinking of that Parisienne trim …
Looks to me like the tire is mounted to a pivoting bracket, with nothing attaching it to the hood. So if you’re loading cans of paint you wouldn’t have to move the tire.
Hey, I think you’re right! You could also leave the tire down and play basketball. Trunkball? Frunkball?
Why not? You’ve got a backboard already.
I vote we make frunkball the official sport of the Autopian.
“Thank you, Thing!”
It isn’t well known, but after Lurch demanded an exorbitant raise, Gomez Addams decided that Thing wasn’t worth keeping around and fired it. The ad agency modeling was a smashing success after Thing’s inability to find any other… hand jobs.
All of which led to many misunderstood conversations about Lurch looking for hand jobs for his Thing.
That’s a lucky break for Thing. Their fallback plan was adult films, where it’s best not to think about the kid of roles they would have been offered.
Wow…this is really getting out of, ahem, “hand” ???? (rim shot…please tip your waitresses…I’ll be here all week…)
Excellent article. The site is still slow as shit. Thank you.
That’s because their servers are powered by an ICE engine. Every time you open a page someone has to go out and start an early 80’s rusted out Jeep sitting on cinder blocks.
I just love, that they painted the inside of the tyre red, to match the red paint on the car! Nowadays you have to go to Rolls Royce or Bentley to get that sort of attention to detail.
The suitcase grasping glove is ridiculous. That is a right hand with the back of the hand facing forward. That means that the person must be standing on the passenger side and reaching over the fender. It would make more sense to stand at the front of the car, facing left, and picking up the suitcase with the right hand. In that case, the palm would face towards the front of the car.
I want to know about the hand brake! If that was really bare metal, that would not be fun in the sun. You’d really need the Floating Glove edition for that.
And is that the ratchet plate exposed to the open at the base? Is the pawl just in the shaft of the lever?
What’s the eyelet just above it? Is that a seatbelt catch? Backwards land is freaky.
This could come in handy.
I wonder how much the invisible man charged for these modeling gigs?
I hope that by 1960 they had also re-thought the dipstick. While having it next to the parking brake may have seemed like a good idea I imagine that the length of the thing was awkward.
Ah! So that’s what that is!
I would like to see a car with an automatic transmission, but still with a gear shifter equipped with the glove on it, and have it designed so the stick moves when it changes gears.
The Floating Glove was a high demand model until the 70’s. That’s when his alcoholism and drug habit got the better of him. It’s sad when you think about the fact those vices were all self medication from the horrible PTSD he had from his time in the Resistance during the War. He was just getting his life back together and re-establishing his career when the terrible incident during a photoshoot at the Eifel Tower when a gust of when carried him off. It wasn’t until days later that they found him lying under a bush apparently ravaged by a feral dog.
I’d heard Hollywood came calling. Things didn’t pan out, though, and after the Addams Family gig was cancelled the Hamburger Helper ads paid the bills for a long time until having been part of OJ’s Brentwood crowd meant he ended up spending most of 1994-95 in an LAPD evidence locker.
An enduring mystery is how he missed the co-branding opportunity with Volkswagen. I guess he just didn’t have a grip on Things.
Thank you both, you made my morning, Torchy thanks for inspiring our gifted writers!
I do hate the predictive text function on my phone, though.
When you run out of taillights to do posts about (who am I kidding, right?!) you could always do a series about fitted luggage.
That manual shifter looks like you’d just slip your hand in, like the Nintendo Power Glove™.
It could be a typewriter case. But it looks like it’s being transported upside down, which I imagine isn’t very good for your mechanical typewriter.
Looks like it, if they ran the ad today, there’d have to be a fine print disclaimer that case is being used as luggage, do no attempt carrying typewriter in that manner. Professional driver on a closed course
My mom’s old sewing machine was also in a similar case.
Maybe it’s designed to be easily transferred from the frunk to the frame of your bike (when your Renault 4CV inevitably breaks down).
I’m thinking something like this: https://everydaycycles.com/products/road-runner-mountain-bike-wedge-full-frame-bag