View original topic: Steering wheel suggestions/help
titan Thu May 06, 2010 5:48 pm

After a long and costly "restoration", my thing is almost ready to drive. When purchased, my thing was already far from stock so I decided to clean up and add to the modifications and it now has a military/kubelwagen look going on. I had a shop weld in Thing Shop front seat floor rails to the non stock floor plan (which is actually almost a 1/4" plate steel sheet). anyway, the shop did this without properly placing the seat frames on the rails and I didn't realize this until I went to install the front seats. The seats fit fine but they sit higher off the floor pan than stock and the steering wheel is much closer to the seat now. This makes the steering wheel hit or rest on your thighs while driving. Outside of re fabing and re-welding the seat frames to the pan, I figure one solution would be to install a smaller diameter steering wheel. I understand this may be difficult with matching the steering wheel to the column etc. Does anyone have any suggestions of a smaller steering wheel that I can swap out without much modification or trouble?

Very soon I will be posting some pics of the"new" ride!!! :wink:


Bugshift Thu May 06, 2010 8:15 pm

Aftermarket steering wheels are the way to go. Almost every auto parts store sells hub adaptors. Super easy to install and look good. 8)

Ratt Fri May 07, 2010 1:10 am

Im rocking my steering wheel from my First car ever on my Thing. Its an early Formuling wheel. It makes me laugh that my wheel would sell for almost as much as I bought my last Bug for.

Im a big fan of slightly smaller wheels. That stock thing makes me angry! Its thin grip and large diameter(while making turning easier) makes me angry.

Grant adapters are realatively cheap, and almost any brand wheel makes a grant adapter. I think to mount my Formuling it cost me $25 for the grant adapter, and another $25 for the Grant-to-Formuling.

titan Fri May 07, 2010 7:12 am

Ok, good. It sounds like a good idea. So now I need a " how to swap a steering wheel for dumbies" list of supplies and steps to remove and install the new one. I'm reading above that I need an adapter of some sort?

thanks so far. Can anyone walk me through this process? and can I pick any steering wheel or are there certain ones that will or will not work?

Captain Spalding Fri May 07, 2010 8:09 am

What hasn't been mentioned yet is that a different adapter is needed depending on the model year. A '73 Thing uses a 40 spline x 21 mm and '74 uses a 40 spline x 17mm. You can find hub adapters here. Many steering wheels can be found at the same place.

To remove the steering wheel:
- remove center horn piece.
- turn the steering wheel all the way to the left.
- using a 27mm socket on a long extension with a breaker bar, remove the steering column nut.
- turn the steering wheel to the center.
- remove the wheel. Strength finesse and patience are required to wiggle it off.
- Attach adapter to column. Attach new wheel to adapter.

Credit to Kubelmann for most of this info.

Ian Epperson Fri May 07, 2010 11:00 am

Captain Spalding wrote:
To remove the steering wheel:
- remove center horn piece.
And to remove that center horn piece:
- Disconnect the battery.
- Pull out hard on one corner of the horn button until you hear a loud pop that makes you think you've broken it.
- Repeat for the remaining three corners.
- Once all corners are snapped free, rotate the horn button and gently lift it out.
- Disconnect the horn wire from the button. If you ground that wire and the horn goes off, your horn is mis-wired and you didn't disconnect the battery. ;)

titan Fri May 07, 2010 4:14 pm

you guys are freakin awesome!! thanks. My car is a 74. So once I remove the stock steering wheel and horn wire, all I have to do is install the steering wheel adapter for the 1974 thing. At that point, will any aftermarket steering wheel work with the adapter? Or do I need to be checking for a certain style or number of splines, etc. when I'm searching for a new steering wheel.

thanks again guys..

kubelmann Fri May 07, 2010 5:21 pm

From the RoMTOC Thing Data CD:

"VW 181s, unfortunately, used two different steering columns and steering wheels. The "early type" seen mostly on 73's can be identified by the metal trim around the key switch area, the "late" version, found mostly 74's, has a plastic trim assembly in the same area. Not only is the trim different, but the steering wheel spline is different so most 73 steering wheels won't fit 74 steering columns and vice versa.
The good news is that the "late" style (74's) is identical in spline and other fitments to later VWs. Of Rabbit sports wheels all the splines, compression tubes and even the horn and turn signals align between the VW 181 and the newer wheel. Also other VWs and Audi's steering wheels should fit right in place of the stock wheel.

For 73 Thing the specs are
21 mm 40 tooth spline
73 Momo adapter hub #0248
74 Momo adapter hub #8010
74 steering wheel nut 24 mm
73 steering wheel nut 27 mm

uberautowerks Fri May 07, 2010 6:34 pm

Most aftermarket steering wheels NEED an adapter. Such as Grant, Formuling, Dino Etc... Because they are designed to fit anything.

My personal Favorite is Grant, lots of styles to chose from, available at your local auto parts store and decent quality (except their bottom end cheepo stuff, Yuck!!) They also have an adapter for the '74 Thing, but they don't list "Things" so you'll need the '74 Beetle unit that matches the wheel you're looking at.

Be aware that Grant has two adapters for the '74 up Beetle, one for their three bolt wheels and one for their five bolt wheels. Make sure you get the right one!

Here's a link to their site, keep in mind the prices are lower when bought locally!!!

Also... with either the 5 or 3 bolt adapters USE LOCKTITE!!!!

Lastly, Scat sells wheels that don't need adapters! They bolt right on, BUT their horn buttons suck!!!

Talosian Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:03 am

Everything I'm reading talks about a 73 and up Thing. I have a 71 Safari born in Mexico.

Will the 73 steering wheel work?

How about a conversion kit?

Is it a 27mm?

Would love to find something as I will be NOB in June so I can ship it there.


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