Being a kid of the 60s and 70s, I grew up in an era where names of West German made athletic shoes were just coming into American pop culture.
In the last couple of years, brands such as Adidas and Puma started to re-issue shoes they made in those days. Most of my personal favorites from High School sports are made again, some almost better than the originals. They just cost more.
Having bought a pair or two to satisfy my own curiosity, I realized a side effect. The shoes back then were really made to fit just your foot and not the 1” of dead air around your feet with another ¾” of cushion and padding and some type of trendy sole. A shoe that just fits my foot and nothing more is almost a novelty in sporting shoes today.
Then I noticed one other feature. They fit the pedals of our cars for driving much better than all these super-wide, air soled shoes of the 21st century. For a couple of good reasons, I recommended this to a few other 02 drivers. Their feedback was unanimous – drive old German cars with period correct shoes only seemed like a match made in heaven.
If you have a car, like mine with a 5 speed conversion, your transmission tunnel is a bit narrow where the heel is in relationship to the gas pedal, to accommodate the slave cylinder of the clutch. Narrow soled shoes benefit that situation even better.
In the last 2 years I’ve driven close to 10,000 miles to events across the Midwest and eastern US. The longest haul was 2,700 miles – this without a cruise control gizmo.
So, on those trips, I put two different pairs of vintage Adidas shoes to the theory of comfort and driving while on those trips – the Adidas Gazelle and the Adidas Universal. For the fashion conscience, there are at least 2 dozen color types now available for both shoe types.
I’m happy to report both the $60 Gazelle and the $70 Universal, leather shoes made originally for Soccer practice, worked very well on these drives.
The ball of your foot definitely seems more in touch with the pedals with these shoes. You can rest your heel for long periods of time with comfort. The soles of the shoes work well with heel and toe driving, and are not going to slip of the pedals either.
They are both light in weight and with a good pair of socks you can drive 8-10 hours with rests about every 200 miles or so of driving – mostly because it’s time to gas up the car again.
Since last year I have also tested the Adidas Superstar and Stan Smith and while they are bigger in width because of their designated design (basketball and tennis respectively) they still don’t seem too wide.
I’m sure there are more shoes of 70’s vintage you have all tried, as well as special driving shoes such as the Piloti types. Pass along your feedback about them and we’ll put them on the *approved* and “period correct” shoe list.