A steering wheel can rapidly tell the onlooker what build style the car owner had in mind-
When something feels right, you know it. And that's why a good-feeling steering wheel can go a long way toward enhancing your driving pleasure. A proper-feeling (and fitting) steering wheel can make you and your street rod seem as one. A good steering wheel can give the illusion that your car handles better; it can make that long and lazy cruise down the highway that much more enjoyable; and you find yourself not wanting to let go when you turn off the ignition.
The featured product this month is the steering wheel. We are showing off a myriad of steering wheels-some are nostalgic, some are modern, some are just nifty looking, and some are right from the pages of a racing program. Regardless, there is a steering wheel that fits both you and your car-a wheel that will enhance the appearance (both inside and out) of your ride, complement your build style, and give you something enjoyable to hold on to.
It has been said that wheels and tires can dramatically change the appearance and intent of one's street rod; you can go from one rodding period to another and do so often by changing nothing more than the wheels and tires. The same can be said for the steering wheel. Oftentimes, the steering wheel mirrors the appearance of the wheels and can complement them by appearing similar or by continuing the theme. All of us have seen the steelies with the '40 Ford-style wheel-it looks good and one complements the other. Then there is the track-style wheel (popular in either the three- or four-spoke design) that complements the Halibrand-style wheel. Then there are the billet-style wheels set off by the matching billet steering wheel. Now it's your turn to take a look at some of the available steering wheels and decide for yourself which best suits both you and your ride.
You can have it any way you like it from the team at LimeWorks, as long as it's old-school. They have a selection of 15-inch black leather-wrapped Sprint Car steering wheels that come in both three- and four-spoke styles, with and without competition-designed and styled lightening holes in the spokes, which are made from six-gauge (.200-inch-thick) chromed spokes.
Next up is the 16-inch '40-style wheel, making it 1 inch smaller than stock and keeping the proportions correct for your hot rod interior. This wheel comes standard with the stock taper and key fitment, for either a stock or LimeWorks steering column, and is also available to fit GM and other later-style columns. The wheel is available either with a horn button and spring or contact surface for GM wheels. These wheels are molded in one of three colors, and stainless DeLuxe rings are already fitted, or you can paint to match/accent your car.
From one of the oldest names in steering wheels, Grant Products has topped off more steering columns than any of us can remember. Think back to your earliest recollections of reading your favorite hot rod magazine-you will surely remember a car that made an impression, and you can just about bet it had a Grant wheel.
From the company's stocking shelves comes the following two offerings (of many available) for the street rodder: the Heritage Two Tone and the Elite GT steering wheels.
The Heritage Two Tone line features larger-diameter, machined-aluminum steering wheels. The spokes feature machined aluminum with a black anodized finish and a billet trim piece polished to a mirror finish. The wheel rims are available with genuine leather or hand-rubbed mahogany wood. The center of each wheel has a polished aluminum center cap with a machined trim ring around the Grant horn button, and measures 14 3/4-inch-diameter with a 2 1/2-inch dish. The modular construction allows the spokes to be removed to be custom painted, and the rims can easily be removed to custom-cover in leather for the ultimate in customization.
The Elite GT steering wheels feature highly polished, mirror-finish aluminum spokes, and a matching trim ring highlights the wheels. This model has a hand-stitched, leather-grained vinyl grip and a matte black rubber styling sleeve. The wheel has a 14-inch diameter with a 3 3/4-inch dish.
Southern Rods & Parts
Another name known to street rodders around the country is Southern Rods & Parts. This South Carolina-based company is well known to Southerners, but is also a major mail-order supplier to rodders from all four corners of the U.S. Known for numerous components all of us would use to build a street rod, SR&P also manufactures a number of its own product, and one just happens to be steering wheels.
SR&P offers a stainless steel banjo wheel that fits all '67-and-newer GM steering columns. This leather-wrapped wheel comes with a polished hub, and, at the time of this writing, is available in black, with other colors to come. The horn button comes in a polished plain face or with the Ford V-8 fashioned into it.
In addition, SR&P also offers a simulated wood and carbon fiber wheel. These new wraps will work on the company's entire line of split-wrap wheels.
Juliano's Interior Products
Juliano's Interior Products is a name that should be familiar to many a street rodder. Among the list of Juliano's products are steering columns, seatbelts, and numerous interior products that include a line of steering wheels.
We are featuring one of Juliano's more popular wheels in the company's early Ford reproduction steering wheels: the banjo-style wheels from 1935 to 1939.
The metalflake steering wheels, originally popular in the '60s, are also making a comeback with today's rodders. If you find yourself really wanting that nostalgic look, then there is the Juliano's reproduction 1940 steering column and a plain hot rod steering column to complement all the company's classic wheels.
You would expect a company like Flaming River to produce steering wheels-it's in the steering-stuff business! Known universally for its steering components, such as U-joints, steering columns, and Vega-style and rack-and-pinion steering units, the name Flaming River is synonymous with street rod steering components.
With that said, the folks from Berea, Ohio, have come out with two new wheels that accommodate several different build styles and help you decide how best to complement your street rod. New from FR are the Nostalgic Corvette wheel (ideal for Vette owners, but also an excellent choice when building a custom) and the Rapids wheel.
The Nostalgic Corvette wheel features a 15-inch diameter and is closely modeled after the first-gen ('53-62) Vettes, but with driver hand comfort in mind. The design features the single-plane, three-spoke, three-hole-and-spoke design that defines the classic Corvette wheel, but the new design is much more user-friendly than the original 17-inch-diameter wheel. Not only is the wheel more in keeping with a street rod interior proportions, but additional clearance is gained between the bottom (6 o'clock) of the wheel and your legs. (Ahh, could it be that, as we have gotten older, our bodies are no longer as supple? That added space is a welcomed addition!) Also, the size change makes driver entry and exit much easier.
The Nostalgic Corvette wheel has a bright, polished, laser-cut stainless steel, three-spoke design like the original with a six-bolt mounting pattern. The wheel uses either the FR20155 adapter to mount on a Flaming River FR1999VT-series '52-62 Corvette column, or the FR1999RO-series roadster column; or the OE stock mount adapter (FR20156) to install on FR tilt columns. It will accept the stock Corvette or a FR horn button (button not included).
Two grip styles are available: molded thermoplastic (FR20151BK, black; FR20151RE, red) or leather covered (FR20152BK, black; FR20152RE, red). There is also a paintable thermoplastic grip available for custom applications (FR20151GR).
Next up from FR is the Rapids steering wheel that features three double-bar spokes in a satin finish, with polished billet aluminum highlights on the mounting ring. It is a six-bolt, 13 3/4-inch wheel and uses premium-grade, black Italian leather to cover the grip.
The Rapids design is highlighted with a distinctive double-bar spoke design and a modular pattern to the grip, providing an appearance as distinctive as the WaterFall and Cascade wheels. It comes complete with the horn button and horn contact assembly.
The Rapids wheel requires a complementing mounting adapter (FR20162AD) to fit FR tilt steering columns.
Klassix Inc, a company relatively new to the street rod market, has ventured into our world with a timeless steering design in the ever-popular banjo style called the Banjo Classic. This California-based company has nine different styles available, but the Banjo Classic is sure to hit a chord with rodders.
The Banjo Classic from Klassix is CNC-machined and available in either ultra-polished billet aluminum or chrome. The company also offers a wide variety of leather options to cover your choice of wheel.
Should you find yourself wanting something very special for your steering column, how about a one-off steering wheel? Naiser Racing has a line of steering wheels, but also offers custom one-off designs.
The company's wheels feature rolled finder notches accenting these cutting-edge designs. These steering wheels are available in a multitude of colors to match any interior, which includes Naiser's new carbon fiber and burlwood two-piece wraps, and the company also offers contoured billet adapters and smooth rounded-edge horn buttons.
Nothing tops the traditional three- and four-spoke wheels from Mullins when it comes to traditional-style wheels. A division of Borgeson Universal Company, Mullins brings decades of experience to the steering industry. Another company with a very long and storied history in the world of steering, Borgeson has a number of steering-related products, and its line of Borgeson steering wheels is just one part of the equation.
The traditional three- or four-spoke steering wheels come in a plain urethane or black leather wrap. These wheels are ideally suited for rodders who want the traditional look or are building a car such as a lakester where the wheel makes the theme come together.
Mullins also offers banjo- and '40 Ford-styled steering wheels made specifically for its traditional steering column.
Billet Specialties has long been one of the premiere suppliers of street rod components. A lot of the company's products are at home on many a build style of street rod.
Producing dozens of wheels, Billet's latest is the Rival half-wrap steering wheel featuring 3-D machining on each spoke. Designed to complement the styling cues of similar billet wheels, the Rival is machined from 6061-T6 billet aluminum and features milled finger grips on the back and a top grain leather front ring available in your choice of nine colors, simulated carbon fiber, or burlwood. Also available is your choice of nine billet horn buttons and adapters that fit most GM vehicles.
LeCarra Steering Wheels has been producing steering wheels for decades.
The Mark 8 steering wheel features a 1.7-inch-thick grip and features a 14-inch diameter. The wheel is available in Standard, Elegante, Supreme, GT, and Double Slot styles, and all are available in popular current colors.
Vintique Inc. is another rock-steady company within the street rod industry, and it has introduced a GM steering column-ready, 15-inch-diameter '40 Ford Deluxe steering wheel and an all-original 17-inch '40 Ford-designed wheel as well.
The GM-ready 15-inch wheels are splined for GM steering columns and include a functioning horn button and turn signal-canceling feature. It is finished in gloss black with polished stainless steel trim rings. The wheel is made 2 inches smaller in diameter than stock to provide more clearance between your legs and wheel, and between your hands and the windshield when used on early hot rods-a nice touch.
The wheel also has the taper and keyway for use with original 1932-48 shafts, and fits to the outer steering tube with minor modification required.
The all-original '40 Ford Deluxe steering wheel is an exact reproduction of the original with a 17-inch diameter. It too is finished in gloss black with polished stainless steel trim rings. This wheel, too, comes with the original taper and keyway for use with original 1932-48 shafts and includes the horn button and spring.
Southern Rods & Parts