The Cavallino is an interesting Momo wheel. They were OEM on quite a few vintage Ferrari models. Finding an affordable one is pretty difficult. Even models without the yellow Ferrari emblem and prancing pony horn button tend to go for a lot. I’ve been interested in one for a while, but the prices prevented it.
Then this one fell in my lap.
This is a vintage 350mm Cavallino from the early 80s. No Ferrari livery. No Cavallino brand. Rather old and a bit beaten. But it still has a lot of life left and miles to drive.
It came partially restored. The seam had split a bit and there was some worn leather on the spokes. The previous owner used some filler putty to attempt to fix it.
The repair on the seam is fantastic. I really can’t complain at all. But the stuff on the spokes… not really my bag. Fortunately, it was easy to clean off. The worn leather looks quite nice in my humble opinion. It just needed a bit of dye and it would be looking lovely again.
BOOM. Dye. I’ve done enough wheels that it’s not much of a challenge anymore. This one was sanded smooth and most of the factory dye was stripped. I rubbed it with some 90% alcohol and got it clean for the dye job.
I didn’t use any top coat. This is just a dyed wheel. I’ve found that on very very soft leather, the top coat just makes it look bad after a few weeks. No matter how matte the finish, it will get glossy and crappy. Just my experience, but I didn’t want to coat this soft and lovely Momo in a hard candy shell.
It’s hard to tell in the above shot, but the stitching is black now. That’s part of the dying process. I wanted to try dying it back to white.
This is just white acrylic paint. The textile medium transforms it into a dye that’s permanent on most fabrics. You can get this stuff at most hobby stores or online. Mine came from Amazon.
I’ve used it in the past with decent success. I always wondered how well it would work on a steering wheel. When this Cavallino came to live with me, I knew I wanted to try dying the threads.
And there it is.
I went very slowly. I painted each stitch. SEEING what I was doing was the hard part. Black stitching on black leather that’s suddenly transforming to white is a very contrasty subject. Your eyes (at least my eyes) start to lose focus pretty quickly. I had 3 spotlights on it while I painted. Having a lot of light was the only thing that kept me on track and painting in the right spots.
The result is pretty decent. It’s not perfect, but it looks good at a glance. And the paint isn’t too rough. It hasn’t flaked off. Still, it’s not perfect. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’d not do this to a very rare or valuable wheel. It was a good experiment though.
And here’s Sharka wearing the new-to-us Cavallino. Not bad eh?
As for actually driving with it… it’s not bad. The Cav isn’t earth shattering or game changing. It has a nice thick grip, but it isn’t the thickest ever. It’s like a slightly upgraded Prototipo.
I’m not disappointed or anything. I’m just not… not blown away. I’m not sure how to put it in words. It’s like meeting a childhood hero and discovering he’s a regular person. I always wondered what the Cavallino was like. Since it was a Ferrari OEM, I assumed it was spectacular. Unfortunately, it’s just a regular wheel. A very nice one, but not a superhero.
Still, I plan to keep this in my collection for a while. I’ve bonded with it over the past month of driving and am eager to share some adventures with this old wheel.