Stand out of the Prototipo crowd

The Abarth steering wheel has been a very popular steering wheel for a lot of classic car fans for many years. No matter if you drive a Porsche, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo or BMW. Maybe it’s still a bit under the radar, rather for connoisseurs, while everyone who considers himself and his car sporty, buys a Momo Prototipo.
The steering wheel was used in rally cars a lot in the 60s and 70s, thats why it earned the nickname Abarth Rallye. Officially, however, there is no name for the classic Abarth steering wheel. It was available in three sizes, 320mm, 350mm and 370mm. There are also structurally identical steering wheels but without “Abarth” lettering. These steering wheels were made for automakers such as Autobianchi and Lancia, which were also available in 330mm and 380mm diameter. Only the Abarth variations received the steering wheels with the inscription “Abarth”, such as the Autobianchi A112 Abarth, the Fiat 124 Abarth, Fiat 131 Abarth, the Fiat 500/600 Abarth and some others. It was available in black (anodized aluminium) and silver (brushed aluminium).
NOS Abarth Rallye 370mm Steering Wheel

Black 370mm Abarth Rallye steering wheel

Abarth Rallye 370mm Steering Wheel

Silver 370mm Abarth Rallye steering wheel

Apart from the Abarth vehicle versions of the manufacturers, the steering wheels were of course also commercially available and enjoyed great popularity. Rally legend Walter Röhrl also swears by the Abarth steering wheel and some of the rally vehicles he drives had the Abarth steering wheel installed. Check out how Walter Röhrl works with the Abarth steering wheel.

Source: Youtube

In the video, Walter Röhrl drives a 1971 Porsche 911 S with the legendary Abarth steering wheel. Over the years I have collected some of these steering wheels, they are available here. Porsche is a also a good keyword. Often the steering wheel is associated with the legendary 1967 Porsche 911R, which is not quite correct. The steering wheel of the 911R is a special Momo Monza that featured spoke slots unlike the standard Monza, which had round openings. The 911R Monza was also flat and not slightly dished like the Abarth. Due to this similarity, the Abarth steering wheel is very popular with Porsche fans. Optically and technically the best alternative to the original 911R steering wheel, which is very hard to find and if – prohibitively expensive.

The original Porsche 911R steering wheel
Credits: Google

Abarth 350mm Rallye steering wheel - black - front side

The Abarth Rallye 350mm steering wheel

Well, if you compare these two pictures, they seem to be related, though the Abarth is slightly dished.
 
There are a lot of myths and rumors about the history of Abarth steering wheels. But basically it’s easy. No one other than Momo made the steering wheels for Abarth. The early steering wheels were more noticeable than the later ones, which look like a 911R look-a-like. The early Abarth steering wheels had even larger spoke slots and were available in the original version only in 370mm diameter. This first version had an engraving on the back that clearly identifies them as steering wheels from Momo manufacture: 12707, the patent trademark in the mid-60s, even before the Momo brand was founded. Read more about Momo and their different brand engravings over the years.

early 65-67 Abarth steering wheel
Credits: Mark M.

Patent 12707
Credits: Mark M.

Shortly after the founding of the Momo brand, the steering wheels then bore only the Abarth trademark, no further engraving, a few years later was “Made in Italy” engraved on the back of one of the side spokes. Also, the diameter of the handles changed, the earlier version without engraving on the back has a diameter of about 28.6 mm, the later a diameter of about 31.2mm. That does not sound like much and you can’t really see it, but it is clearly noticeable if you have it in your hands.
Abarth 350mm Rallye Steering Wheel - black

earlier version with thiner grip and without any marking on the back

Black Abarth Rallye Steering Wheel 350mm

later version, slightly thicker grip and “Made in Italy” on the back

Black Abarth Rallye Steering Wheel 350mm - Made in Italy

“Made in Italy” on the back of the left spoke

Abarth Rallye 370mm Steering Wheel - Made in Italy

“Made in Italy” on the back of the right spoke

Sometimes the engraving was on the back of the either left or right spoke of the steering wheel. Reason behind is unknown. Just like Momo, there were lots of different Abarth horn buttons available – in various colours and earlier ones (with a chrome ring) and later ones (without the chrome ring).

Abarth 350mm Rallye steering wheel - black - Abarth Horn Button

early chrome ring Abarth horn button

Black Abarth Rallye Steering Wheel 350mm - Abarth Horn Button

early chrome ring Abarth horn button

Overall a very nice alternative and a way to stand out of the Prototipo crowd. A few Abarth steering wheels are available for sale here.