John Player Team Lotus

Not because of the “special” in the name of well-known Formula 1 sponsor and successful tobacco producer John Player Special. Another kind of steering wheel made by Momo for a car brand but here in relation to the race car sponsor – Team Lotus.

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Special, because it is an exception in the production line of successful steering wheels from Momo. Momo as a manufacturer of steering wheels that initially had started with custom-made steering wheels for race car drivers grew to a company with series production. The successful Momo models like the Momo Prototipo, Momo Monza, Momo Elite, Momo Le Mans, Momo Sebring and a few others had created the basis and a certain notoriety in the market, that also automakers wanted to have wheels of Momo for their sporty models, exclusively of course – or something exclusive, how they could afford or wanted.
The most striking example is certainly the sports car manufacturer Ferrari, who has had steering wheels manufactured by Momo over the years for a large number of his models. Most of them exclusive like the well-known Ferrari Testarossa steering wheel or the Ferrari 308 steering wheel. Some were modified, a different size, logo or horn pad, modified thumb pads or a special horn button. Ferrari is just one example, Momo also dedicated other manufacturers or spin-offs own or modified steering wheels, such as Alfa Romeo, Alpine & Alpina, Porsche – not to mention Abarth – and Lotus.
The proximity to motorsports was always there, in the beginning of the 70’s Momo began to release steering wheels with signatures of famous and deserved Formula 1 racers. Again, new developments and modifications of existing models. Or later reuse of the design as a steering wheel with a more present Momo logo and without signature. Clay Regazzoni, Niki Lauda, ​​Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Peterson, Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve – and then George Follmer, Roland Asch and Dieter Quester – but they drove in a different class.
Momo JPS John Player Special Steering Wheel - Side

Momo John Player Special JPS steering wheel

Momo JPS John Player Special Steering Wheel - JPS Logo & JPS Horn Button

JPS horn button & JPS golden logo print

The Momo 2-spoke John Player Special (JPS) steering wheel is indeed a special in the line of Momo signature steering wheel series as Momo produced the wheel contemporaneous to the signature series and it has a certain relation to one of the signature series steering wheels, the Momo Mario Andretti. But for the first time Momo designed a steering wheel with a sponsor logo of a Formula 1 team. It was introduced to the beginning of the sponsorship of JPS in 1974 to the market, first as a promotional object with its own horn button, years later available in stores. To this day, it’s the only Momo steering wheel with a Formula 1 sponsor on it that is not a car manufacturer.

Momo JPS John Player Special Steering Wheel

Momo John Player Special JPS steering wheel

Momo Mario Andretti Signature Steering Wheel

Momo Mario Andretti signature steering wheel

However, the sponsorship of JPS was only for the Formula 1, not for the cars off the normal Lotus production line. Therefore, no logo was found on the normal road cars. As being said, the steering wheel with the JPS was first used as a promotion wheel and was sold separately. The Lotus Esprit S2 of the 1978/79 World Championship Commemorative Esprit S2 however had the JPS logo, but they were equipped with the Momo Mario Andretti steering wheel, who was also unter Lotus Formula 1 contract. However, the steering wheel came with the Lotus horn button, not with the helmet button of Mario Andretti. The Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo had the 2-spoke steering wheel, but without the JPS logo and with a horn pad and Lotus horn button.

early Momo JPS John Player Special Steering Wheel

very early Momo John Player Special promotion-only steering wheel

early Momo JPS John Player Special Steering Wheel - Made in Italy

Made in Italy – in terms of the JPS steering sheel – the early promotion-only model

A very special steering wheel in any case, the 2-spoke design allows a good view of the gauges. Particularly interesting are the early models with “Made in Italy” only, which were manufactured between 1974 and 1976 and were not sold publicly, these were merely promotion objects and are therefore super hard to find. The later models from 1978 onwards were commercially available, the steering wheel was manufactured until 1982.

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