In the first decade of the 20th century - at the dawn of the Automobile Age - the well-outfitted motorist traveled prepared. In addition to the numerous tools necessary to repair the inevitable breakdown, proper attire was critical. Cars of the time were unheated and often lacked both windows and roofs to protect passengers from the wind and mud kicked up by traveling outrageous speeds of 30 mph or more. More important, only the wealthy few had the privilege of driving, and one had to look the part. Men wore dusters, or raincoats, wind cuffs, caps with visors, gloves, and, of course, goggles. Made around 1900, this pair of driving goggles was a typical driving accessory. While protecting the wearer from the elements, the goggles, reminiscent of aviators' goggles, also contributed to the rugged mystique of early motorists.
Before 1910 most car manufacturers produced only a few hundred vehicles a year, which sold at prices approaching several thousand dollars each. Some companies mass-produced more moderately priced cars for about $400, but even that price far surpassed the means of most American workers, whose annual income averaged only $574 in 1910.