why is a glove compartment called a jockey box

why is a glove compartment called a jockey box

The glove compartment, also known as the jockey box, is a storage compartment in a car’s dashboard. It is commonly used to store various small items such as documents, sunglasses, and car maintenance tools. The term “jockey box” is often used in some regions, particularly in North America. In this article, we will explore the origins and reasons behind the name “jockey box” for this essential car feature.

1. Historical Background

The term “jockey box” originated in the early 20th century when horse-drawn carriages were still prevalent. Jockeys, who were skilled horse riders, often carried small boxes or cases containing their personal belongings and necessary equipment. When automobiles started to become popular, a similar storage compartment was introduced in cars, and it was named after the jockeys’ boxes.

2. Compact Size

The glove compartment or jockey box is typically small in size compared to other storage compartments in a car. Its compactness allows it to be easily accessible and conveniently placed within the driver’s reach. The name “glove compartment” suggests that it was initially designed to store gloves, which were commonly worn by drivers in the early days of motoring.

3. Hidden Storage

Another reason behind the name “jockey box” is that the storage compartment is often hidden or discreetly integrated into the car’s dashboard. This hidden storage feature allows drivers to store valuable or personal items securely without drawing attention from potential thieves or passersby.

4. Convenience for Drivers

The jockey box provides convenience to drivers by offering a dedicated space to store essential items within easy reach. It eliminates the need for drivers to search for items in other parts of the car, ensuring a safer and more comfortable driving experience.

5. Multi-Purpose Storage

The glove compartment or jockey box is versatile and can be used to store a wide range of items. It is commonly used to store documents such as car registration papers, insurance documents, and owner’s manuals. Additionally, drivers often use it to store sunglasses, pens, notepads, and other small personal belongings.

6. Organizational Benefits

The jockey box helps drivers keep their cars organized. By providing a designated storage space, it prevents clutter in other areas of the vehicle, such as the seats or dashboard. This organization contributes to a cleaner and more comfortable driving environment.

7. Safety Considerations

The jockey box also plays a role in ensuring driver safety. By securely storing important documents like driver’s licenses and car insurance papers, it allows drivers to quickly present them when necessary, such as during routine traffic stops or accidents. This helps to maintain compliance with legal requirements and promotes overall road safety.

8. Maintenance Tools

In addition to personal items, the jockey box is often used to store car maintenance tools. Items such as tire pressure gauges, small flashlights, and basic repair tools can be conveniently stored in the compartment. This allows drivers to handle minor issues or emergencies without the need to search for tools elsewhere in the car.

9. Cultural and Regional Variations

While the term “jockey box” is commonly used in North America, different regions may have their own names for the glove compartment. For example, in the United Kingdom, it is often referred to as the “cubby box” or “dash locker.” These variations reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity in the automotive industry.


The glove compartment, or jockey box, is an essential feature in modern cars. Its name, derived from the jockeys’ boxes used in horse-drawn carriages, represents its compact size, hidden storage, and convenience for drivers. The jockey box serves multiple purposes, from storing personal items to organizing car documents and maintenance tools. Regardless of the name used in different regions, this storage compartment remains a valuable asset in every car, contributing to driver comfort, safety, and overall vehicle organization.

why is a glove compartment called a jockey box

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