I’ve always been wary of any form of garment produced after the Edwardian era that claims to have been made especially for motoring. I have long scoffed at car coats, driving gloves and driving shoes. Recently, however, I noticed that my favourite Corthay lace-ups were suffering rather badly in the back-of-the-heel area as a result of being chafed on the uncarpeted floor of my Spartan classic car when operating the pedals. This made me reconsider the practical purpose of a dedicated driving shoe with its protective addition to the back, and I went on the hunt for something that was suitable for the job.
Nevertheless, the thought of wearing a specific driving shoe still felt a little uncomfortable. I wanted something somewhat less obvious than most designs I had seen, and was delighted to discover the smart “driving boot” made by historic Viennese cobbler Ludwig Reiter. The recently introduced Roadstar (£498) is said to be based on an old driving shoe design, but it disguises itself well as a chukka boot (which, I suppose, is what it is). Where it differs from the standard chukka, however, is that the traditional suede outer is protected around the heel by a generous cordovan shield attached by a double row of stitches.
The design also features British-made Dainite rubber soles, which have shallow studs that make for an excellent grip on the pedals (and on slippery surfaces), while a traditional Goodyear welt ensures a surprising level of waterproofing. The Roadstar is also quite rigid, meaning it offers good ankle support at the wheel and is also supremely comfy to walk in – but, best of all, it doesn't really look as though it has been made for driving.
What I would like the good people at Ludwig Reiter to do next, however, is to make a version of the Roadstar that is suitable for motorcyclists. It would be a simple matter of adding a piece of protective leather to the top of the left boot to counter wear from gear changing, while the sole of the right boot could be reinforced to cope with the rigours of kick-starting. Because there are those of us who are sufficiently old school to still ride bikes that aren't fitted with what my late grandfather – a motorcycling vicar who did his rounds on a 1938 Scott Flying Squirrel – used to call “an electric leg”.