Watanabe Falcon Steering Wheel

A battered red box.

A battered red box.

Just look at that red box. So battered. It’s seen things. But the contents? Fresh and pristine.

A Watanabe Falcon in silver.

A Watanabe Falcon in silver.

What do I even say about this? Words fall short. It’s a black and silver steering wheel, but so much more. The legendary Watanabe Falcon.

Car guys swoon. (Well, those into esoteric JDM unicorns.) Normal people look confused. Aficionados write blog posts.

A wheel of legend? Yeah, that’s not hyperbole. That’s pretty accurate.

New-to-me horn button.

New-to-me horn button.

Mine came with this fine little chrome horn button. It is new. There’s no scuff marks on the terminal and it looks to have never been mounted. It was very likely made just before the wheel left Japan rather than being New Old Stock. It was made VERY well. The red is an exact match for the Watanabe red. The artwork is very crisp.

It’s perfect for the wheel.

Nearly new.

Nearly new.

A few words on the Falcon. These wheels were made in the mid 80s. They’re Italian, though commissioned by Watanabe of Japan. Either 250 or 300 were made. 250 is the most common number I’ve read in my research. They came in either black or silver. Silver seems to be less common. I say this because most photos on the net are black spoke models.

Nearly every steering wheel collector lists this wheel as his crown jewel. Guys with dozens or even hundreds of wheels elevate the Falcon to the top of their collection.

I had to know why.

Finger bumps.

Finger bumps.

Thumb pads.

Thumb pads.





Features of my Falcon steering wheel:

  • 340mm width. This is something I learned only after having the wheel in hand. I’ve never found an accurate measurement anywhere online.
  • Soft leather. So soft. It’s like heaven. Like a baby’s butt.
  • The grip is nice and thick. Not TOO thick, but it’s not Nardi-thin either. It’s fantastic.
  • The thumb pads are softer than the rest of the wheel and have a slight indent for your thumb to rest in. It’s extremely subtle. It’s also not worn in like this. I’ve got a ton of Falcon close up photos saved and all have a slight indent on the thumb pad.
  • It’s almost new. There’s no evidence of wear on the leather. The screw holes have no marks. The wheel has been mounted at least once as there’s a shadow of hub mounting wear on the back.
Angled grip.

Angled grip.

This was the most surprising feature of the wheel – the angled grip. It’s super hard to capture with a camera. I added some arrows to help indicate the angle.

The grip is oval rather than round. The steering wheel itself is round, but the grip has an oval cross section. And it curves inwards slightly. That makes the entire steering wheel an anatomic handle.

This is completely unique. I’ve got a few wheels with oval grips in my collection, but none angle like this. My other wheels just have an oval grip to make the cross section thinner and allow better gauge visibility. The Falcon seems more concerned about how the wheel FEELS to hold.

And it feels amazing. I could babble for another dozen paragraphs.

Sharka's Watanabe Falcon.

Sharka’s Watanabe Falcon.

It's a high water mark.

It’s a high water mark.

From other owners of this rare wheel, the most common statement posted was “mine is too nice to mount.” Sometimes followed by “I just take it out of the box once a year and hold it.”

I mounted mine about a half hour after I unwrapped the package. I wasted NO time. I wanted to play with my new toy.

And it’s amazing. Using the Falcon is unlike any other wheel I’ve ever held. The finger grips, the thumb pads, the 340mm size. And that angled oval grip! It’s an experience.

If I happened to test drive a car with a wheel that felt like this, I would buy that car immediately.

The office.

The office.

I even went so far as to buy a new shift knob in a brushed finish to match the steering wheel. My polished Moddiction knob is taking some time off. The Falcon demanded it.

And, with that, I now have ten steering wheels in my collection.


I need some help or an intervention or something. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have a problem.

Anyone have a black spoke Falcon they’d like to unload? I could give it a good home.

And maybe a set of 14″ Wats? Gold with a polished lip please. k, thx.

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  • Tim says:

    Nice score. Where did you find this gem?

    • revlimiter says:

      Both Instagram and Clubroadster. Bogaut imported it and sold it to me. I saw it on his insta and thought “no way will he sell it.” And then it was up for sale on CR a few weeks later.

  • Nick says:

    See? Told you silver and black suited this car too much. 🙂
    Really nice score. I’m jelly.

  • GT-Alex says:

    Now I’m jealous. I got pretty excited as soon as I understood what you got your hands on, although I never quite got why it was considered the JDM unicorn of steering wheels. But reading your review on this makes me want one now. Happy to see it will actually be used though, that’s what they’re made for after all.

    I’m just wondering which Italian company actually built those.

    As for your “problem”, I’d say fight fire with fire and get an Italvolanti.

    • revlimiter says:

      I’ve been hunting a nice Italvolanti for a couple years now. Either a leather Admiral or a good condition wood Formel. The “good condition” part is a pretty high order. The little thumb buttons break easily.

      • GT-Alex says:

        I understand the struggle here. A friend spent years before finding a red center Admiral for his Trueno AE86, and he paid gold for it. Worth it though, as that was the finishing touch to make a perfect Initial D replica.

        • revlimiter says:

          I’ve seen at least one red center Admiral in the last 12 months. I’ve also seen two full-red ones and a wood. I keep passing. Not sure why.

          No, I’m sure why. Because it’s the same sort of wheel as my Momo Master. Same thick grip, center pad, and thumb buttons. Just two manufacturer’s takes on the same design. And I love my Master. I think I’d probably sell the Admiral shortly after buying.

          But I still want one.

  • Brad says:

    I’ll be honest, I never really understood the obsession with stuff like this, the rare and expensive parts that seem to follow us car folk. However, I respect the passion you have for the wheels, and it’s just another of those things that makes your Miata stand out as being on another level.

    Plus, it doesn’t hurt that your presentation of such oddities makes for an enjoyable read.

    Now that said, I did splurge on a Regulus spoiler for my Mk3 Supra quite a few years back. Supposedly only 9 or so of them in North America. Bought it for the same reason most of us buy rare stuff: it looks pretty darned good. =)

    • revlimiter says:

      IT LOOKS PRETTY DARN GOOD. hahaha! That sums it up for me too. I’ve gotten rid of a fair chunk of rare JDM stuff that wasn’t so nice to look at or use. I keep the stuff I enjoy. Some of it happens to be rare. 🙂

  • Falcon team says:

    OFFICIAL NOTICE: It has come to our attention that you are in possession of and installed our silver model steering wheel. There was a recall for this wheel back in 1989 due to it affecting drivers to be distracted and causing major accidents.
    Please return this product immediately for your own safety. A return label has been emailed to you.
    We appreciate your expedited cooperation in this very important matter.

  • Corey says:

    Well if you REALLLLY need help, I can definitely take a wheel or two off of your hands.

  • OnePaintedMan says:

    I have no words . . .

  • Erick says:

    It’s almost like Sharka has met his unicorn.
    In all of the interior pics with beautiful wheels installed, these shots look the best.

    Enjoy it good health, Adam!

  • […] a very nice piece which is the Watanabe Falcon steering wheel, to which he wrote a nice blog about here. After seeing all of the things that were possible with steering wheels and the Miata, I decided to […]

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