Have you seen the movie The Aviator from 2004? There's a scene where that DiCaprio guy, who plays Howard Hughes, fusses and fumes over what control wheel to put in his "Spruce Goose" airplane.
The first time I saw that scene, I called my doctor to make an appointment to find out if I was having some type of serious compulsion issues. Why? No one fusses over steering wheels like I do. Not even that DiCaprio guy.
In case I've never told you this before, one of my many editorial duties is road-testing new cars. And the first thing you put your hands on is the steering wheel. I've come to realize that you can tell a lot about a vehicle from it's steering wheel, which also means that I have become incredibly fussy about those details.
Whether in a new car or an old one, it just has to feel right. For cars such as our 1963 Corvette and 1965 Mustang, wood-rim wheels were the way to go, but the '70 Plymouth presents a bit of challenge.
You see, the steering wheel not only has to match what's going on in the rest of the interior - and even the exterior - it also sets the tone. For a steeringwheel freak who realizes this, the concept is a little mind blowing.
Whereas the Mustang and Corvette were more or less stock-ish inside and used stock-ish steering wheels to match, the trouble with the interior of the '70 Plymouth is that it lacks a styling direction. Or, rather, that styling direction changed without anyone really realizing it.
Very early on when I was outlining the goal of the car, I was clear about what was to happen. It was going to drive like a modern sports cars and would draw inspiration from an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and a Ford GT inside. Clear as mud, apparently, because the result was anything but.
The seats were puffy instead of tailored, there were no fancy metal rivets in the seat bottoms and seat backs like in the Ford GT and the contrasting white stitching became the usual seams. And with all that going on, I was sitting there with a brand-new Ford GT-style steering wheel, ready to go in the car.
It was as out of place as a nudist at a business luncheon, which, as the buyer of the "T3" wheel from Shutt, sent me over the edge for a few days. I had already spent a few nights surfing the Web to find the wheel I wanted and I wasn't keen on going back to the drawing board.
To avoid a repeat, I decided to actually wait until the interior was basically finished before going shopping again. That way I could find a matching or complementary style for a known entity. Finding a wheel involves one key thing, though: knowing if it will fit the column. My experience, as a kind of Murphy's Law thing, is that if I like a wheel, it won't fit the car. If it's hideous, it will not only fit the car, but it will also be 50 per cent off.
What you do from here depends on if you're a DNA match for Howard Hughes. You could settle for the ugly wheel that fits, or make the wheel you really want actually fit (no small feat), keep searching for an appropriate wheel, or, do what we did, get a new steering column that just about any wheel could be adapted to.
That really was more luck than planning since a new steering column was recommended when we bought our "Level II" front suspension from XV Motorsports (www.xvmotorsports.com).
The tilt steering column from Ididit was a bolt-in for the car, requiring basically zero fabrication.
It sticks out too far from the dash for my liking, though (putting the steering wheel in the driver's face), so we'll attempt to move the mounting brackets up the column a couple of inches and then shorten the shaft that connects column to the new power-steering rack. Most aftermarket steering wheels are made to fit Ididit and Flaming Riverbrand columns, just by purchasing the right adapter.
That's how I was able to get the Shutt T3 in the car in the first place.
With the interior mostly together it was obvious from the seat pattern and relatively stock looking door panels, that the steering wheel had to have more of classic-meets-modern look.
The Momo Retro wheel seemed the right choice as it vaguely resembles the classic three-spoke steering wheels found in early-'70s muscle cars, although with a leather grip, contrasting stitching and a much smaller diameter than stock, it also looks modern.
For now, I've made up my mind, but the beauty of having a steering column that most steering wheels will fit is that you can always change your mind.
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