Remember my Falcon wheel and horn button? If you follow me on instagram, you probably couldn’t forget. I post pix of them constantly. But for those who don’t, here’s a quick back story.
I got a Watanabe Falcon steering wheel about a year ago, in November 2015. It’s a super-rare wheel, but the silver version seems to be a bit more rare. At least, the black one seems more common in my findings the past year. Most folks I talk to online have black ones.
Anyways, I got this wheel and it came with this chrome horn button. At the time, I thought it was nice but it didn’t look original. It has a clear plastic dome with a printed Watanabe Racing Service logo inside. To me, it looked like a high quality fan-made replica. It had never been used. There were no mounting marks on it and no scratch on the horn terminal from ever having been plugged in.
I used it happily for about 6 months before making my own black-housed replica button and being happy with that. The chrome button was set inside one of my steering wheel cases.
A buddy let me borrow his original (and legit) Watanabe horn button. It’s the black model. It’s stunning. The foil red and white/light gold brushed metal… such a beauty. I’m not including detailed front pix of that horn button on purpose.
In fact, this whole post feels odd to write. I want to share all of this stuff, but I don’t want to make life easier for those who might knock off these original products. But I’m going to post this anyway.
While inspecting Chris’ black original horn button, I was struck by the shape of the grounding strap. It seemed like something I’d seen before. I retrieved my chrome button from the case and set them beside each other.
They’re made from the same mold.
Note the molding marks. These two buttons were done in the same mold. Except for one being chrome plastic and the other being black, they’re identical. Totally totally identical, down to the tenth of a millimeter.
You’ll also notice that my chrome button has a short lead soldered onto it. I did this when I got the wheel and button so that it would work with my quick release. Facepalm? Meh… at least I can use it. I’d do it again.
The big difference between the two buttons is the presence of the horn icon at the bottom of the chrome one. But close inspection reveals that the icon is a separate tiny plate bonded to the bottom of the button. It’s not part of the mold at all.
So, it’s my opinion and observation that this chrome horn button is a legitimate original option from Watanabe. And since receiving the wheel, I’ve learned a bit about how these were originally sold.
1) You could buy the steering wheel in either black or silver spokes.
2) The horn buttons were optional. You didn’t have to buy one with the wheel. And apparently, there was at least two options – black or chrome.
3) The hexagon trim ring was a second option. You could buy the wheel by itself, with a horn button, or with the button and separate trim ring. I do not know if the hexagon trim ring had a chrome option or not. I’ve only seen (very few) photos of it in black.
3a) Not many folks bought the optional trim ring. They’re more rare than unicorn tears.
And there’s my chrome option button inside the original black Watanabe trim ring. It’s a perfect fit.
When I figured out that my chrome button was legit… you have no idea the pure joy and excitement. I’m typing this a couple months after the fact, but still feel that excitement. I can’t believe I own this. I’ll never let it go.
I hope this post has the intended effect of sharing knowledge about these rare steering wheels and doesn’t just help to create a bunch of knockoff parts. Think I should leave this post up or take it down in a few months? Let me know in the comments.
In the meantime, I’m in rare Watanabe part heaven.