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Well, yes, the Formula 1 Enterprises Steering Wheel has been produced by Momo in Italy, even though Formula 1 Enterprises was a New York City based firm, thats not a secret – and it became one of the most popular steering wheels over the years, though not particularly rare back in the late 60s. But lets start at the beginning.
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Formula 1 Enterprises was founded by motoring journalist Karl Ludvigsen in 1967. But he wasn’t just a journalist, he was a car designer at General Motors in the late 1950s and went on to become Vice President at Ford in the 1980s.
When he founded Formula 1 Enterprises, he focused on importing motor vehicle equipment, especially racing stuff, into the United States. So we can assume Formula 1 is sort of an homage to Formula 1 racing. Momo was a rising star at the time and he asked Momo founder Gianpiero Moretti to make a special steering wheel for them. That was in the mid 1960s.
However, when a couple of his close friends were injured while racing, he focused even more on safety products, e.g. he helped invent the Halon-gas fire extinguishing system for race cars.
Standard, that doesn’t sound too fancy, but it has been called the Standard Real Wheel, 14″ (355mm) or 15″ (380mm), made out of a single piece of 4mm alloy. They came in silver and black, both anodized and covered in (hand-stitched) leather. Due to high demand, Momo did produce also a Mahagoni version, same sizes but only in silver. They all had a relatively small grip, no thumb pads and the upper spokes were pretty much straight across like the early Momo Monza or Momo Elite Steering Wheels.
The very first ones had the “No 12707 Momo Made in Italy” engraving on the back of the center spoke as you can see in the picture below. The majority of the Standard Real Wheel were produced starting 1966/1967.
The later ones, based on the engravings on the back, “Pat. Momo Italy” or “MOMO”, came in the same sizes, 14″ (355mm) and 15″ (380mm), but came with thumb pads and slight up angled upper spokes. That Real Wheel Steering Wheel is also referred to as the Prototipo Style Real Wheel. The grip is also significantly thicker compared to the Standard Real Wheel.
The one I haven’t seen yet is the steering wheel for the competition driver, called the “Real Wheel Tipo Prototipo Competition Steering Wheel”. Extra-padded and leather rimmed, the competition steering wheel was only available in matte black in order to eliminate glare. The competition steering wheel was made in 10″ (255mm) or 11″ (280mm).
Among these types, I have seen various versions that were somewhat different to these above mentioned versions. Either no engraving at all on the back of the center spoke or a Prototipo Style Real Wheel without thumb pads. That makes me assume that there are even more versions out there. Earliest I’ve seen is the one in the pictures, latest had the stacked Momo logo on it.
Rare are all of these, so if you get your hand on one of those, hold onto it tight!