Enthusiast's Directory No. 14: Clothing for the motorist
(The need for special clothing in this modern motoring world is not so great as it was in the early days of open-air motoring, but nevertheless the careful selection of clothing can increase the pleasure of driving. Clothing plays an important part in racing and, where applicable, our staff have tested the equipment before passsing comment. — M.L.T.)
Driving gloves are perhaps the most widely used clothing accessory and a very large number of different makes are available. Design is almost standardised, most gloves having a cotton mesh back and leather palms, although they are designed for different purposes. For instance, racing gloves are as thin and light as possible for feel and sensitivity, while many ordinary driving gloves are designed for warmth before any other consideration.
Les Leston.–The G.P. driving gloves designed by Les Leston are intended purely for racing and have a thin cape leather palm with a cotton mesh air-vent back for keeping the hands cool in a hot racing car. There are no large seams externally or internally, which is ideal from the point of view of preventing blisters in a long race. In fact, so comfortable are these gloves that one forgets they are being worn after a short while. The gloves have an elasticated wrist which meets up with the sleeves of racing overalls to prevent burns on exposed flesh. These gloves are entirely suitable for ordinary road driving, although they are not very efficient at keeping out the cold air which is prevalent at this time of the year. They are priced at 25s. — Leston’s Motor Accessories, 314, High Holborn, W.C 1.
D. Lewis Ltd.–This firm manufacture a pair of racing gloves of a similar pattern to the Leston G.P. gloves although using pigskin leather, which is slightly heavier. The fingertips are reinforced for longer life, and the wrist has an elasticated insert. The price of these gloves is 19s. 9d. — D. Lewis Ltd., 124, Gt. Portland St., W.1.
Slazengers Ltd.—The Slazenger driving gloves are designed for the man who requires warmth with his motoring. They feature thick leather palms with double-layer cotton mesh backs, and have wool fabric linings for maximum warmth. Naturally, with such thick gloves having strong seams they would not be suitable for racing, but for the man who has an open tourer and who likes to travel with the hood down sometimes, these warm gloves will prove ideal. — Slazengers Ltd., Horbury, Wakefield, Yorkshire.
G. Waddington & Son Ltd.–This company produces a large range of general-purpose driving gloves for both men and women drivers, ranging from pigskin leather palm type, unlined and with a string back, at 21s. 9d., to a fleecy wool lined pair at 43s. 6d. These all have open wrists and are not suitable for racing, but, having small seams, would not unduly hamper the fast driver. Once again, the unlined gloves do not keep out the cold in an open car or walking on the street. — G. Waddington & Son Ltd., Newland, Hull.
Generally speaking, the use of helmets is restricted to racing, but some young men who drive open sports cars might benefit from the use of a helmet, which may result in a shorter stay in hospital. Racing drivers hope that they will never be used but they take care to select a good quality example.
Les Leston.– A new design was introduced at the end of last season with extended side pieces for protection of the temples. Present research indcates that a glass-fibre shell with a cork lining is the best combination for maximum protection, and the Leston G.P. helmet uses a 1/2-in. lining. The helmet has been submitted to the British Standard Institute for test and was found to have a strength factor far in excess of requirements. It is interesting to note that the American space-man type helmet failed the B.S.I. tests. Both Moss and Brabham have used the Leston helmet and others will probably do so next season. The new helmet is priced at £5 17s 6d. A peak and rhodoid visor are available for wet weather driving. Although we have no facilities for testing the strength of helmets, it is certainly comfortable and with a weight of around 1-1/2- lb. is not unduly heavy.
Slazengers — .The 6810 A type helmet is mainly intended for motor-cycling but could be used for motor racing. It is used by such experts as John Surtees and Geoff Duke, and features a non-detachable peak with a zip-fastened harness. It is, if anything, lighter than the Leston helmet and offers a large degree of comfort.
Les Leston.– Some drivers think it is an affectation to wear racing overalls but it is no exaggeration to say that several tragic accidents could have been avoided by the use of flame-proofed overalls. The Leston overalls have always been flame-proofed and offer a high degree of protection to the wearer. The intention of the one-piece overall is to cover as much of the body as possible, while the wrists, waist and ankles have elastic crepe inserts to ensure that the overalls will not catch on anything in the cockpit. Poplin is the best material as although nylon will not burn, it melts, and can cause nasty wounds. Poplin is easily flame-proofed by immersing the garment in a solution of powdered 1-lb. of Borax with 3/4-lb. of Boric Acid powder boiled together and added to a gallon of water. This solution can be used many times. The garment to be flame-prooled should be completely immersed in the liquid, then mangled dry and ironed in the normal way. The overalls are priced at £5.
Leston’s also manufacture a separate blouse and trousers which can be used by the non-racing enthusiast as they can be obtained with open ankles. For protecting ordinary trousers in a sports car they should prove ideal. These are available with open and closed ankles at £2 15s 6d. A waterproof nylon suit is also available for wearing over racing overalls.
Goggles are important to the racing driver, especially in a long-distance race, where a poorly-fitted pair will become very painful in the course of a race.
Octopus. — There is probably no better recommendation for a pair of goggles than to say that Stirling Moss wears them. He currently wears the 940 Octopus model, which is a hand-made Italian goggle which can be obtained with a large curved Triplex lens or a flat safety-glass lens. The frame is nickel plated and is mounted on a chamois-leather lined facepiece. They can also be obtained with anti-dazzle lens. The price of the 940 model is 64s. 6d. There are over 30 different types of goggles to choose from in the Octopus range. — I. & M. Steiner Ltd.. 5, Charleville Road, London, W.14.
Leston.—Popular goggles with racing drivers are a modified version of the R.A.F. Mk. VIII pattern, which has angled lenses for all-round vision. These have been modified to fit the latest type of helmet.The lenses, are made of Triplex laminated safety glass, which can be replaced with smoke-tinted lenses for driving in bright sunshine.
Starlight. — The Starlight shield is intended for the saloon-car motorist to combat dazzle at night. From our own tests these glasses certainly reduce dazzle from oncoming headlamps and are a definite asset in night driving. They are priced at 9s. 9d. and can be obtained with smoke, green or amber lenses. — Randolph Supply Co., 33, Beech Street. London, E.C.1.