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MOMO PROTOTIPO – HISTORY OF A LEGEND

The drug of choice for a lot of vintage car afficionados

The Momo Prototipo. Enough said. Basically. But there is a lot more to the myth, the history of the legend or the holy grail. A product name Momo used for more than half a century already. It’s not just a wheel that helps you steering into the right direction. For quite a lot of vintage car lovers, the Momo Prototipo is a religion. Let’s try to find out why.

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When a Journalist contacted me the other day and asked about my opinion about the Momo Prototipo in particular, something else came back to mind. I wanted to give an overview about the generations and what else is known about the Momo Prototipo. Quite a lot in terms of dish & sizes, surface treatments and overall processing. Not so much about exact production years and numbers and no exact date when Momo changed the design from generation one to two and to three respectively. And what happened in-between those years. But I am trying to put together as much as I know. Whatever you got, feel free to contribute! I browsed through old catalogs and ads, compared dates and finally matched all the information gathered with my steering wheels – or pictures of steering wheels that I’ve recently sold.

A few inconsistencies remained, but I would like to give a brief overview for those who have one, want one or those who are looking for a nice vintage steering wheel and don’t know if the Momo Prototipo is the right one for them – and why this steering wheel is so popular and sought after.

Pile of second-generation Momo Prototipos

Momo Prototipo Steering Wheel - 350 mm - flat - sunburned

a well-kept, well-preserved example

The Momo Prototipo seems to be the steering wheel that you absolutely have to have. Of course, the Prototipo played a very important role in racing history, let’s think of the racing cars of the 1960s and 1970s, for example. We all remember the legendary Porsche 908, 910 and 917, they all had a Prototipo in it. So it seems to be the steering wheel for the masses, for those who want a classic and vintage steering wheel, it’s a choice you can’t go wrong with it. But if you want to stand out of the crowd, there are other wheels, similar wheels like the Momo Monza, the Momo Le Mans or the mentioned Momo Sebring which even have the history of the racetracks in their names. On the other hand, there are not that many of those around compared to the Momo Prototipo, which was produced for many years, is still produced today. This article focuses on the first three generations only, say until the end of the 1980s.

Momo Prototipo steering wheel – first-generation

The differentiation between the generations is based on the different logos of the Momo Prototipo steering wheels. The first-generation Momo Prototipos had the logo engraved on the lower end of the center spoke. If you look at several of these wheels, the logo looks different from wheel to wheel. Presumably the templates was not so precise. And since it was engraved into the metal, you could see the logo much better on a black anodised steering wheel compared to a silver one. Just one of the reasons why people are more after the black ones.

first-generation engraved Prototipo logo
black 320mm Momo Prototipo steering wheel

first-generation engraved Prototipo Logo
silver 360mm Momo Prototipo steering wheel

The earliest Prototipos, like all Momo steering wheels from the 1966 to 1967 period came with one of those three stamping variants on the back of the center spoke. Either  “12707 MOMO Made in Italy”, “MOMO”, or “PAT. MOMO ITALY “. Although all of these engravings are from these period, it is not really known when Momo used which one. After that, Momo wheels had the stacked logo on the back, the 72 Momo catalog shows the silkscreen printed logo of the second-generation Momo Prototipo logo, so most likely that first-generation period ended in 1971.

The first generation came in a number of sizes, 320mm, 360mm, 370mm and 380mm. For sale ads did show 350mm sometimes, but I am not sure whether that size was available as well or not. The ones I own are 320, 360 and 380mm, all flat, all with the stacked logo on the back. They were available as flat wheels as well as semi-dish wheels, however, the semi-dish wheels I have seen came all from the stacked Momo logo period of 1968 to 1973.

Momo Prototipo 380mm 1st generation flat

first-generation Momo Prototipo, 380mm, black, flat

Momo Prototipo 380mm 1st generation flat - Prototipo engraved

first-generation engraved Prototipo logo 
380mm Momo Prototipo. 
black

Momo Prototipo 360 1st Generation

first-generation Momo Prototipo, 360mm, silver, flat

Momo Prototipo 360 1st Generation - early Prototipo Logo

first-generation engraved Prototipo logo
360mm Momo Prototipo. 
silver

second-generation Momo Prototipo steering wheel

Biggest and most noticeable change in terms of the design was the Logo. When Momo started the production of the 2nd generation Momo Prototipo steering wheels, they went from an engraving of the Prototipo logo on the lower edge of the center spoke to silkscreen printing the Prototipo logo somewhere in the middle of the center spoke. Not always on the same spot, but there seems to be no reason for that matter. They’ve used black paint for the silver steering wheels, white paint for the black steering wheels.

Momo Prototipo, 370mm, flat, 2nd generation

Momo & Prototipo logo in different spots

But another thing has been changed in terms of logos. The Momo Prototipos from the second generation that have been produced in the period of 1968 to 1973 had the stacked Momo logo on the back of the center spoke while the later produced ones got a stamped Momo Logo on the front of the center spoke. 

The stacked Momo logo period was followed by the Made in Italy and Made in Italy M20340 period, 1974-1976. Whats interesting, the two Prototipos in the picture above are the exact same Momo Prototipo steering wheels, 350mm, flat. The one in front has the Made in Italy stamp on the back and weighs 740gram, while the later one in the background with the Made in Italy M 20340 on the back weighs 1064gram. 

After that period, still within the second-generation of Momo Prototipo steering wheels, most likely Mid 1977, Momo started using exact production dates on the back of the wheels in the format MM-YY. It’s also not exactly known, when the change from the 2nd to the 3rd generation happened, my best guess is, somewhen between January and July of 1980. I’ve simply checked all the Momo Prototipos I have and had and this is how I came to that six month period.

Within the second-generation of the Momo Prototipo, the Momo company focused on three sizes mainly. I am saying mainly, because there are other sizes on the market, but those were not available to the public based on my knowledge. 320mm, 350mm and 370mm were the sizes of the second-generation. All sizes were available in black and silver.

Momo Prototipo 370mm 2nd Generation

second-generation Momo Prototipo, 370mm, semi-dish

early silkscreen printed Prototipo logo, stacked Momo on the back

Momo Prototipo 370mm 2nd Generation - Stacked Momo Logo

stacked Momo logo on the back of the earlier 2nd generation wheels

Momo Prototipo Flat Steering Wheel 350mm - M 20340

Made in Italy, M 20340 on the back of the later (1974-1976) wheels

third-generation Momo Prototipo steering wheel

The third generation of Momo Prototipo steering wheels started somewhen in the first half of 1980. While the logo is still silkscreen-printed on the center spoke, the look has been changed again. The font became narrower and Momo put a box around it. Well, a square box with rounded corners.  

And another little detail, a barely noticeable thing was changed. Look at the images closely, the edges around the holes, previously rounded, were more likely sharp later on. If you have wheels at home, put your finger in and you will feel the difference. The latest Momo Prototipo Heritage is supersharp compared to the earlier ones.

Momo Prototipo Steering Wheel for sale - 1990 - Prototipo

third-generation Prototipo logo, sharp edges

second-generation Prototipo logo, round edges

Momo continued the third-generation of Momo Prototipo steering wheels with the same sizes and dish – just like they have ended the second-generation. But, here comes the but. At some point, secretly and quietly, Momo stopped manufacturing certain sizes and discontinued the flat Momo Prototipo. Again, can’t say when that happened exactly, so if you know, share your wisdom. Last 370mm Momo Prototipo (semi-dish) I have seen is from 10-83. So Momo stopped  production of the flat Momo Prototipo and the 370mm Momo Prototipo. To this day, people all over the world are waiting to a 370mm Prototipo comeback. 

Again, the font on the back of the wheel, Made in Italy and the production date has been changed in the late 80s. Thats where my interest ended in terms of the age of steering wheels in general. Reason for that, I have no car that is younger than 1988. Speaking of fun cars, I do have a daily driver that is fun as well but way younger. But removing the Airbag and putting a Momo steering wheel in a Tesla is not an option.

Momo Prototipo 350mm Steering Wheel Superb - Made 7-83

early third-generation stamp on the back

Momo Prototipo 3rd Generation 320mm - Made 10-89

later third-generation stamp on the back

other Momo Prototipo steering wheels

There are lots. Honestly, countless versions were available but not to the general public. The Momo Prototipo of the Porsche 908, 910 & 917 was slightly different and so was the logo. They had a diameter of 360mm, were 3-spoke-padded and had a semi-dish, from 1969 and beyond. Those wheels were made exclusively for that particular car and not available in retail stores. 

But there are some that are also well known. Don’t want to go into detail, just want to show you an example. This one is a Momo Prototipo S, which was available in two generations, though I am not sure whether the generation changed of the Momo Prototipo S happened at the same time Momo changed the generations of the Momo Prototipo. Shown here is the first one which has the silkscreen printed logo of the 2nd generation Momo Prototipo. 

Momo Prototipo S - 350mm - First Generation

Momo Prototipo S, 1st generation

Momo Prototipo S, silkscreen printed logo

The older the better. That may not apply to women, but to cars, wine, guitars, watches and the Momo Prototipo steering wheel. Hard to find now, especially the first-generation ones in great condition. Like mine, which has a place of honor in my collection. But there are always some Momo Prototipo steering wheels for  sale here. Check them out!