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Petri sports steering wheel for BMW

The much sought after steering wheel for BMW E9 & E10

Get more and more requests – people are looking for a Petri BMW steering wheel for their BMW E9 Coupés or their BMW 2002s. But it was not only available as option for these two types. One could order it from the factory for these BMWs and a few more cars, not only BMWs.

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The Petri company

The Petri company was founded in 1899 in Aschaffenburg, Germany, by Richard Petri as a celluloid factory, in order to make bicycle grips and balls but no steering wheels until the 1920. The son of the founder, Gustav, continued and expanded the business and in 1941, the name has been changed to “Lenkradwerk Gustav Petri”, which translates to “Steering wheel factory Gustav Petri”. At the end of the Second World War, about 50 percent of the buildings were destroyed by tank fire. Rebuilding started again in 1947 and the plant has continued to grow. The production program included steering wheels for motor vehicles, as well as additional parts such as signal rings and horn buttons. Plastic parts were also produced, individual parts for household and kitchen appliances (for refrigerators, music and television sets). At that time, about 6,000 steering wheels were manufactured every day, ten percent went abroad, the rest went to car manufacturers in Germany. In the 1980s, with the many cars on the streets, safety became a big issue. With a pioneering spirit Petri developers took the task of accommodating an airbag in the steering wheel. They succeeded in doing this together with the Daimler-Benz company and the specialist companies for pyrotechnics, airbag fabric and electronics. First those wheels were produced in small numbers for the Mercedes S-Class, later for other brands like Audi, BMW, Opel, Volvo among others. Later Petri produced not only steering wheel airbags but for the passenger side and side airbags as well. In 2000 the company went on as part of the Japanese TAKATA Group, a company focussed on passenger safety systems. At that time, the Petri branch produced 12.000 steering wheels every day.

The Petri sports steering wheel for BMW

A lot of people have had a Petri steering wheel in their hands without knowing. A lot of OEM steering wheels were made by Petri, especially for European vehicle brands. Sports steering wheels were not their focus, but at the request of the automotive industry, they developed several designs over the years. The most famous among them is the BMW Petri sports steering wheel. But they slightly adapted the design and sold it to another German brand. 

Petri sports steering wheel in a BMW E9 CSL

BMW Petri sports steering wheel in a E9 CSL

standard BMW CS/CSi steering wheel in a E9

standard steering wheel in a E9 CS/CSi

BMW Petri sports steering wheel, 380mm

Petri BMW horn button

Different Petri sports steering wheel versions

For BMW, the Petri sports steering wheel was available as an optional steering wheel, made from 1971 to 1977, in three sizes, 350mm, 380mm and 400mm. But not for all BMW models. 

Based on BMW parts catalogs, the 350mm version was available for the BMW E10 1502-2002 cars, but only for the tii models (part no 32331113192). Also available was a 380mm version, based on the parts catalog (part no 32331113738). For the bigger and sportier E9 series, the 2.5CS – 3.0 CSL, there were the 380mm (part no 32331112244) and 400mm (part no 32331109738) sizes available, no 350mm version. The larger 400mm version was also available for some other BMW cars, based on the parts catalog, on the  E12 (02/72-06/81) and the E3 2500-3.3Li (08/68-02-77). However, there are no particular serial numbers on the steering wheels.

All of these steering wheels were made of steel, unlike other manufacturers who used Aluminum. Most were then matte-chromed, a few had a matte-black finish from the factory, but these are even harder to find. In the end, the actual handle was applied, some foamy material called urethane. Petri made it look like leather, the surface, even a stitching was embossed. Apparently, only the Petri BMW E9 CSL steering wheel had a leather grip.

The early ones had no logo on the back of the spokes and no stamped size on the back like the later ones do. 

BMW Petri 380mm Steering Wheel E9 2002 - Petri Logo

38 – 380mm diameter &  Petri logo

40 – 400mm diameter &  Petri logo

Basically, all three versions were made for BMW, the 380mm version however was also available for the VW Scirocco TS MK1 and Volkswagen Passat TS and there was a even dished 400mm version that was available for the Volkswagen Passat and Audi Fox as an option.

What seems interesting, there are two different spoke ends, the square one and the tapered one. In some places it is claimed that only the square ones were made for BMW, the tapered ones for VW/Audi. But as BMW brochures show both variants and the 350mm Petri sports steering wheel was only made for the 02, this theory is countered and it is indeed more likely that one is the earlier and the other the later version. The earlier ones, actually all early ones I have seen without the logo and size on the back had square spoke ends, all the others with logo and size on the back had tapered spoke ends. The following photos show the two different spoke ends.

BMW Petri sports steering wheel 380mm E10 E9

earlier BMW Petri sports steering wheel with square ends

BMW Petri 380mm Steering Wheel E9 2002

later BMW Petri sports steering wheel with tapered ends

Petri sports steering wheel in a VW Scirocco TS MK1

Petri sports steering wheel in a Volkswagen Scirocco TS

Petri sports steering wheel in a VW Passat TS

Petri sports steering wheel in a Volkswagen Passat TS

The Petri hub adapter

There are actually two different variants of hub adapter for BMW, but then again there are three different ones. Sound confusing? Basically, they differ in the way the contact of the horn button is transmitted. BMW 02 hub adapter have a plunger, a spring loaded button and a horn contact brass ring on the steering column surround and the BMW E9 has the setup vice versa. Means, the hub adapter spline fits onto the steering column, but you have to make adjustments if you want to use a 02 hub adapter on a E9 to make the horn button work. 

The hubs also differ from the outside in terms of length, 02 being the shortest, CS in between and CSL being the longest. The cover length of the E10 02 hub is 87mm, the E9 CS hub is 93mm and the E9 CSL hub is 102mm long. The hubs itself have a different lengths too, the 02 and CS hub have 3 ribs, the CSL has 4 ribs.

BMW E10 2002 Petri hub adapter

BMW E10 2002 & E9 CS/CSi Petri hub cover 

The Petri to Momo hub adapter

As mentioned, these hubs are harder to find than the wheels itself. If you come across a wheel and can’t find an adapter for your E9 or E10 or even want to install such a wheel in a lets say E30 or even another brand, there is a solution from now on. The all new Petri to Momo hub adapter. Momo hubs are widely available, so just get a Momo hub and the adapter and install your Petri sports steering wheel in whatever car you like. And of course it comes with an all new cover ring and all screws necessary.

Petri sports steering wheel to Momo hub adapter

all new Petri to Momo hub adapter

Petri to Momo hub adapter and cover ring

The Petri horn buttons

Like the steering wheel & the hub adapter, Petri also produced their very own horn buttons. And just like the hub adapter and their covers, they were never sold separately, therefore these are hard to find nowadays. 

Petri BMW horn button front

Petri BMW horn button back

If you are looking for a Petri sports steering wheel for your BMW, either the lovely 02 or the more elegant E9, try to find a set as the horn button and the hub adapter are pretty hard to find separately for the above mentioned reasons.

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