Driving loafers were the go-to for many from the 70s and are still popular today but since then we’ve seen many more different styles become available including low top sneakers, hi-top boots, and FIA spec competition boots.
What makes a good driving shoe?
One of the most important aspects of good driving shoes is the amount of feel generated through the sole. It needs to be light enough for the small incremental inputs to translate, but not so flimsy it feels as though you’re driving barefoot.
It needs to have a roll factor for heel and toe in manual cars but equally when covering the brake pedal and shifting to the accelerator or vice versa. Even for left foot brakers, a degree of roll is required.
It needs to grip the pedal right to the edge, but it also shouldn’t grab too much as it needs to slide from one pedal to the other.
Professional driving shoes are on a whole other level incorporating fireproofing and a form dedicated to driving performance. But they often look a little over the top for your average run to the cafe or car meet. Even a trip down your favourite road in a pair of Sparco F1 racing shoes will result in a bit of ribbing from friends.
This list is all about driving shoes that you can wear without people looking at you strangely or coming off like some wannabe racer. And there’s nothing wrong with going out for a drive in dedicated driving shoes much like you wouldn’t want to be the guy at the golf course in sandals, or playing tennis in jeans, just as long as you don’t rock the whole look (Ferrari shoes, Ferrari jacket, Ferrari cap, Ferrari watch, Fiat car…).
The type of shoes you go after will also depend on your car and personal style. If you’re going to wear loafers, best to avoid the whole white socks situation of the 1980s and instead wear no-show socks and chinos for starters.
The following were chosen based on for a range of budgets, styles, and intent. Not everyone wants to wear loafers, so there are plenty of other choices here too.
Prices were gathered through online stores and currency conversion where international currency features weren’t present. You may find your local prices could be lower or higher.
The list is organised by style and price (low to high):
The driving loafer is what most people think of when someone mentions “driving shoe”. There are a myriad of different brands at different prices so there’s plenty of choice but mostly the upper end is represented here. Loafers do have a very distinct style with Ivy League and Wall Street associations, demanding the rest of your outfit is cut to the same standard.
Aurelien Caramel Suede Driving Shoes
Aurélien is an Italian brand handcrafting driving shoes at a reasonable price point without sacrificing quality. Made in Italy using Softey® suede with exposed hand stitching, it has all the driving shoe features you need from a loafer such as the rubber pebble sole and extended sole on the heel. Adding a bit of flair to the design is Aurélien’s hot-stamped emblem and front tie.
Price: $268 AUD ($195 USD/£147 GBP)
Tod’s Gommino Driving Shoes
If you want a classic Italian made casual driving shoe with effortless style then you have to seriously consider one of Tod’s Gommino Driving Shoes. Tracing its roots back to the 70s, the Gommino is famous for its pebbled outsoles, a much copied design feature today. Made from a suede upper, exposed handmade stitching, and rubber pebbled soles.
Price: $454 AUD ($332 USD/£251 GBP)
Negroni Wild Penny 2
Negroni’s Wild Penny 2 is a luxurious take on the driving loafer made with Negroni’s “historic oil leather” upper, motorhide vintage insole and heel step, and Italian made driving rubber sole. To gain a rich texture on the upper, a layer of colour is manually applied to the leather surface with davin oil and gradation cream. The extended sole on the heel adds the functionality you need from a driving shoe.
Price: $561 AUD ($409 USD/£309 GBP)
Bally’s take on the driving loafer is distinguished by the grained bovine leather and silver-tone metal B-chain detailing. Made in Italy it retains the pebbled heel and rubber sole.
Bally have quite a few other loafers with slightly different takes on the theme, so it’s worth checking them all out.
Price: $730 AUD ($510 USD/£370 GBP)
Gucci ‘Ayrton Kilty’ driving loafers
If you’re into your fashion brands, then the Gucci ‘Ayrton Kilty’ driving loafers will fit right in. Staying true to regular driving loafers with the pebbles soles and extended sole on the heel, they stand out for their flamboyant design and construction detail using quality leather throughout.
Price: $1010 AUD ($631 USD/£477 GBP)
Probably the most versatile of the bunch, low top casual driving shoes often look like regular sneakers and blend in with whatever causal wear you throw at them be it shorts or jeans. They tend to hide the functional heel roll and toe roll grips in the design so never really look out of place and there’s always a good range of styles and prices.
Speedcat Sparco Sneakers
The classic Speedcat Sparco is a more casual take on the Speedcat Mid, looking very much like a conventional sneaker with the right functional aspects of more motorsport derived shoes. The suede upper lifts the shoe visually while the extended sole on the heel provides the movement you need, and the low-profile rubber sole the feel required when driving.
Price: $140 AUD ($100 USD/£87 GBP)
Piloti Pistone X
The Pistone series from Piloti are probably the most casual on this list, taking on traditional low top sneaker attributes while still retaining some of the functional aspects you need in a driving shoe. Using soft Italian suede, Piloti’s Roll Control 2.0™ heel technology, ONSTEAM® anti-microbial lining for managing odour, extra padding throughout, rubber suppose, cork and EVA foam insole—all made in Portugal.
Price: $150 USD/£140 GBP (Piloti don’t currently ship directly to or distribute in Australia)
Piloti Endurance 24hr Le Mans
Piloti’s Endurance 24hr shoe has to be one of the best looking casual driving shoes available at this price point. As a collaboration partner of the 24hr of Le Mans race, Piloti designed the nubuck leather and suede shoe with the French flag and official branding in places. It also features Piloti’s usual tech such as Roll Control 2.0™ heel technology and ONSTEAM® anti-microbial lining to keep odour at bay. Vintage endurance racing boots inspired the retro sole.
Price: $190 USD/£175 GBP (Piloti don’t currently ship directly to or distribute in Australia)
Grand Prix Originals Racing Sneaker
Grand Prix originals create some great racing inspired clothes but also have a range of low top driving shoes in a large variety of colourways. They feature a rounded heel, a tyre tread inspired sole and lateral roll point. The shoes are 100% cowhide and made in Portugal.
Price: $290 AUD ($211 USD/£160 GBP)
Negroni Idea Corsa
Negroni’s Idea Corsa are a popular low top shoe from the Japanese brand with plenty of colour ways to choose from. Made with an Italian suede upper, the Japanese made Negroni “n” on the side is constructed with coated carbon prepreg. Also Italian made is the carbon leather trim along the heel, pull tab, collar, tongue, down the eyelet tab to the toe of the shoe along with the Italian made driving rubber sole. The bucket insoles are constructed for heel support with 3 types of cushioning. Made in Japan.
Price: $561 AUD (£310 GBP/$408 USD)
Christophe Fenwick Racing C Low
Christophe Fenwick driving shoes use a classic sneaker form while adding the functionality you need. It’s also good to know they’re constructed by the same manufacturer who makes shoes for Formula 1 drivers. The Racing C Low is made from suede calfskin upper with a ventilated and quilted leather interior (with a choice of “Havana” or red quilted leather), while the lightweight sole is made of hydrocarbon resistant rubber extended to the heel and lateral grip points. There are other details too like the metal button with a phoenix.
Price: $584 AUD (£321 GBP/$425 USD)
Mid to Hi-tops
Taking the function a tad further, hi top driving shoes move a little closer to the professional driving shoe in form with more ankle support. Some hi tops will suit shorts, some will suits chinos, others are best with jeans.
Sparco Speedcat Mid Sneakers
If you’re wearing jeans, you could just about get away with wearing these if the top half were covered as the lower half look very much like a Puma casual sneaker. The Speedcat has a loop and hook closure for a secure fit, with PUMA Formstrip at medial and lateral sides for functional aspects.
Price: $160 AUD ($110 USD/£100 GBP)
Made in Portugal, the Piloti Apex is constructed with burnished, top grain Italian leather and rubber cupsole with Roll Control 2.0™ heel tech and ONSTEAM® anti-microbial lining. The Cognac looks like a cousin of the Danner Logger 917 or Viberg Scout Boot instantly giving it style kudos.
Price: $160 USD/£175 GBP (Piloti don’t currently ship directly to or distribute in Australia)
Sparco Slalom RB-3 Classic
If you want function at the next level without going to a full race shoe, the Slalom RB-3 Classic is a good choice. It’s FIA 8856-2000 and SFI 3.3/5 type approved meaning it can be used for competition. The fact it still retains the look of a regular shoe means it can be worn with jeans and chinos comfortably and would fit perfectly in a classic car meet environment.
Price: $369 AUD (£202 GBP/$269 USD)
Negroni Grand Prix Hi-Top
Negroni Grand Prix Hi-Tops are exquisitely made driving shoes made in Japan, so you can trust the quality is high. The GPHI shoes take inspiration from designs in Formula 1 from the 60s and 70s. The upper is made from lightweight, water repellent Cordura® Fabric 1000 and water repellent leather. The insole is leather lined while the sole is an Italian made driving rubber sole and extended to the heel and lateral grip around the outer toe. Negroni also offer a resoling service which really puts them in another league.
Price: $418 AUD (£230 GBP/$304 USD)
The Negroni Quattro Toscana suede chukka boots offer a completely different style to most other driving shoes. Looking almost like a classic chukka boot they still possess the driving functionality that you need. They are made using a Toscana colour suede upper featuring Chiorino carbon leather, bucket insoles for heel support with 3 types of cushioning, and an Italian made rubber driving sole extended to the heel and lateral toe grip.
Price: $418 AUD (£230 GBP/$304 USD)
OMP Carrera Low Boots
The OMP Carrera Low Boots use a leather construction but with a sporting cut and finish leaving the use open to interpretation. Dress up or dress down. Featuring all the functional aspects you need, it uses a hydrocarbons resistant handcrafted rubber sole, and they also meet FIA 8856-2000 standards for use in competition.
Price: $450 AUD (£248 GBP/$329 USD)
Christophe Fenwick Racing S Mid
These Christophe Fenwick Racing S Mid shoes are super slick. They are quite easily passable as a stylish sneaker yet have all the features you need in a driving shoe. Using the same design features as the Racing Low series with suede upper, ventilated leather interior and lightweight hydrocarbon resistant rubber sole, and like the Racing Low also gives you the choice of a “Havana” or red quilted leather interior.
Price: $616 AUD (£339 GBP/$641 USD)
Chapal Pilot 60s
Chapal make all sorts of luxury clothes and accessories with a particular focus on driving. As their catalogue is created on many of the classic styles we recognise today, they can often be seen at premiere events such as Goodwood Revival and other notable rallies like Mille Miglia. The Pilot 60s hark back to driving shoes from that era. Using sheep leather and a rubberised leather sole, they are pure luxury and according to Chapal, come with a lifetime warranty.
Price: $879 AUD (£483 GBP/$450 USD)