Nardi Wooden Wheel Questions & A Bad Experience Restoring One

Hi everyone,

As per the thread title, I have/had a Nardi steering wheel that came with my V-spec originally that I sent off for restoring with a well-regarded company very recently. To cut a long story short I received it back and the work done on it was frankly shocking, especially considering I paid £270 for the wheel to be refurbished. The wheel came back much darker than I sent it, with blotches where the original lacquer hadn’t been taken off entirely and the stain they used hadn’t sunk in, but the worst bit was the black pinstriping had been applied with a sharpie without any masking or proper pinstriping techniques, and was all over the place with holes in it and waves and ripples that just looked awful.

To give credit where it is due, the finish of the polyurethane varnish they used was good, turnaround was quick and it was well cured and smooth without runs - but that’s about all I can offer I’m afraid.

Suffice to say - I’m asking for a refund currently; I shan’t name the company as I’m still waiting to see how they plan to rectify the situation.

EDIT: The company is called Steering Wheel Restorations and/or Myrtle LTD. I just had a very pleasant conversation with the gentleman who restored my wheel. Apparently I’m an ignoramus, stupid and a laughing stock because I don’t know anything about steering wheels, and the Nardi’s are cheap wheels for cheap cars and cheaper people. He said it wouldn’t matter if I told the internet not to use his company as he has loads of customers (presumably with much more expensive cars) and so I don’t feel too aggrieved at naming it here. Honestly the worst customer service experience I’ve ever been a part of, so I would advise anyone reading to steer well clear (pun intended). Been offered a refund on the proviso I send the wheel back and have it returned stripped, but only after signing a disclaimer that I’m happy to receive a damaged/junk wheel in return.

My questions therefore are related to what I do from here. I know Nardi make the classics from new still, however they are all a dark mahogany, and the reason I sent my wheel off to be restored is because I wanted to keep the colour matched to the faded wood patina my handbrake lever and gearknob have.

Does anyone know if Nardi makes a classic wheel that is in a lighter wood colour like beech rather than mahogany?

Can anyone recommend a good wheel restorer who does wooden wheels & pinstriping?

Does anyone have a mint/brand new Nardi classic for sale?

Or alternately, has anyone restored a Nardi Classic themselves and can offer tips/tricks and advice on how to do it properly?

I’m currently in a pickle as I don’t know which is the best option to take in order to get an as-new wheel that matches the rest of my interior, so any advice is gratefully received!

Pics of the wheel before:


That pinstriping does not look great does it. Sorry i cant offer anything more constructive.

Factory studio shopt. Note the steering wheel colour doesn’t really match the gear knob

I’d take the refund and stripped wheel offer. Buy new 360mm Classico

Mazda have also rereleased the Nardi Classico for the V-Special, which is a bit strange as Nardi never stopped making it. Mazda press photo of the resto parts. Check the colour variation

Getting it from Mazda is a bit cheaper than aftermarket. The list price from Mazda is 54,000 yen or £340.

In the past, I have used UK Mazda dealers to order Japan-specific parts based on a JDM VIN. There is no delivery charge; if the part is in stock in Japan, you wait a week or so for it to be delivered to the dealer. I suppose there are regular air shipments of parts from Mazda Japan. Maybe they can get you the steering wheel. Not sure if that price includes duty, vat.

I’ve only fixed up a leather Nardi, back when you could get them £30-40, and people were throwing away wooden ones because of cracked lacquer. To be fair, in the world of wood rimmed steering wheels, the Classico is probably most numerous.

Not only the striping is poor, but so is the crup around the spoke/rim.

To be honest, if he can return the wheel to you with the wood stripped, that might be most of the hardwork done, as the factory lacquer is so hard. I can’t see it so hard to rig up a jig with a sharpie on a bit of string, but getting that crisp line, I’m not so sure about. I’m sure there is some dark art in the world of woodwork to get that. But if the wood is all smooth, lacquering is straightforward using a aerosol marine varnish (which I think is the one to use to get that yellow finish). If you are not prepared to do the same with the rest of the woodwork, it’ll be impossible to get the wheel to match 30 year old faded pieces.

But it sounds like he will take a chisel to it, rather than strip, and essentially deliberately damage the wood, out of spite.

Thanks for the advice re: ordering from Mazda direct, that’s a canny idea! Every time I’ve rung the main dealer for parts they’ve been more expensive than Moss, MX5 Parts et al, so maybe this time it’ll play in my favour.

I’m also leaning towards your thoughts regarding a DIY solution. I successfully refurbed a teardrop gearknob not that long ago myself (pic attached) that turned out ok, but the wheel seemed a step too far. After this experience however I’m beginning to think it might be the lesser evil!

I’m not looking for an absolutely perfect match, however having a sun bleached gearknob and brake lever and a brand-spanking new steering wheel makes the car look a bit of an odd duck, so if I can keep a semblance of the 30 year patina on it I’ll be happy.

My major reservation as you suggest is that the guy will deliberately trash the wheel just out of spite and I’ll be left in a worse position than when I started :frowning:

Still, £270 will be enough for a used wheel and the consumables at least - discounting the hours it’ll take to do the work of course!

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Time to read up on lots of DIY refurbs. There are loads on Miataforum, but you can also check the Alfa forums etc.

I think getting the right varnish/lacquer is important, and the wood doesn’t need staining as such. Marine varnish seems to have that yellow colour that adds to the wood tone. But the difference between a brand new wheel and your refund is about 2 tanks of fuel, one shop at Tesco. Then how much value do you assign to your time. Its a calculation I make (increasingly) that usually ends in sod it, just pay.

Probably a lot easier to get a worn 30 year old handbrake to match a brand new Nardi wheel.

The DIY path may well be my best option I think! Personally I think the tan interior suits a wheel that is lighter in tone rather than the darker mahogany, so there is an aesthetic choice at play as well I guess. I haven’t found colour matching the wood too difficult when I’ve refurbed pieces before. I had another, newer dark mahogany gearknob that I bleached and finished in a clear satin exterior varnish to good effect with some simple ingredients (VWP brewers steriliser for a bleach of all things!) and that looks pretty darn good, so I’m reasonably confident it can be done by a professional.

Will see how we go. Luckily a very good friend is a contract lawyer at a top firm and thinks this is a clear breach of the consumer rights act so I feel reassured I’m not the one in the wrong here. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though with any luck.

I personally like the colour the wheel was before these vandals got their hands on it.
I assume you did too and just wanted the old lacquer/varnish lifted off, pinstripe refreshed and a perfect protective finish applied.
Did they tell you they were going to creosote it?
You have before pictures of the wheel where wood condition is obviously good; just the top protective coat that has worn/lifted in places. I would do whatever is required to get your money back. A dreadful job and £270 far from cheap. Was he suggesting that such bad workmanship would be more acceptable on a more expensive wheel/prestigeous car?
I would be tempted to take the wheel to them personally, watch them undo their mess and collect your money. Sadly that sort of stain will likely have penetrated quite deeply into the wood, so you will never get it back to how you want it. Practice on it yourself with a refurb and then be in a more confident position to refurbish another one that has the potential to be as you want it.

You’re pretty much spot on with your assessment! The aim was to have it stripped of old lacquer, the pinstriping restored and then a basic clearcoat to retain the character of the wheel. Sent it to them, was told it was received and then a few days later was charged for the work. No opportunity for a conversation or form to complete to explain what I wanted. Original estimate was £150+Vat which then jumped to £270 (inc Vat) upon being invoiced. Queried it politely at the time and was told costs were up etc, which I accepted without pushing back and paid up. Still not received said invoice either…

According to the guy who did it the colour is the natural mahogany, but I’m sure something has been applied to darken it. I’ve used Osmo wood reviver and a clearcoat varnish on mahogany before and it’s never come up that dark whilst still retaining the naturally aged mahogany character. I think his insinuation was that Mx5 owners are cheap and don’t understand the finer points of classic car restoration - unlike Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Delahaye owners (he works on £500,000 cars and restored Enrico Nardi’s personal wheel don’t you know) :sweat_smile:

Unfortunately they are nearly 300 miles away from me, however there’s a chap over the border in Lancashire who’s offered to take a look at it for me. Might be beyond the point of rescue but that’s only additional evidence to support my claim I suppose. In the interim if I can find another classic without any splits in the wood (seem to be very few on ebay) then I may well attempt a DIY restoration to give me time to decide where I go from here. Either way will be more £££ to move forward from here, but such is life! :joy:

Just fit a nicer wheel to use and keep the look…, but that is a joke for that professional work and cost, i would be pushing for a lot of money back off them…


He has pictures of restored Citroen 2CV steering wheels on his website… and £270 for a repair that must be getting on for 50% of the value of the car ??

Nardi restore. Looking at the photos how they split the rim from the metal, its going to be a bit more than £270. They’ll probably advise to just buy a new Classico.

Construction of a Nardi wheel:

I’m looking at various options - currently in conversation with a guy who makes new wheels who may be able to help. He offers a Lotus Elite wheel that is almost exactly what I was after originally so may go that route.

I’m trying to resto-mod the car to keep it as close to original as possible - but better. Pics of the interior as an example:

Ignore the mismatched gearknob - since replaced with the teardrop above.
This is my forever car and I am very particular about it so whatever I get, it has to be right.


Nice. .

When I had a S-Limited


Very nice. Always liked the S-Ltd’s interior, especially with the Montego blue paintwork!

Puerile? Certainly.
Pointless? Probably.
Wokey Inappropriate? Debatable.
Satisfying to witness? Oh God yes.

Here goes:
He needs a ruddy good boot in the doggy things delivered by a very large Army sapper wearing steel toe capped boots who has just been told his weekend leave is cancelled and he is on stag.
Brave over the phone eh?

That wheel would be perfect.
Have to be honest, I like it more than the Lotus one but hope the original poster does not agree:-)
The other thing is wheel diameter. Most of these are 370mm, standard; he may prefer a 340 or 350mm wheel?
Quite a few torinos around but not many classics/classicos.
I did see a Saab one on ebay; looked good at first but closeup photos show a number of problems. I am wondering if the original, traditionally dark wood, mahogony was actually treated/dyed to match the tan upholstery. Perhaps why the finish degrades along with the protective top coat. The restorer may have inadvertently stripped the whole lot off?

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Yep, a mint condition like-for-like replacement would be great, but a restoration of my original wheel in the same colour as the Lotus one would be great too - even better in fact as I retain the originality of the wheel. The Lotus’s (Loti’s?) wood colour is really what I was after from the resto - hence the example image. Maybe a shade darker but that’s all. The best of both worlds would be that sort of wood on the existing wheel hub with proper pinstriping. I think that would look absolutely perfect, and what I was hoping to get!

I think the mahogany of the original wheels bleaches over time (especially in Japan) and the varnish they used yellows too. The restorer seems to have taken it back past the patina, then stained it and varnished it hence the darker colour. I might be wrong but it seems a fair hypothesis! My hope was the cracked yellow varnish was going to be taken off, then the pinstriping reapplied and a clearcoat put over the top - restoration, not renovation!

My wheel is 360mm btw :+1:

Looking at the Nardi video, where they emphasize the craftsmanship, and all this hand finishing, I honestly wonder if in fact they have two lines of production. The top tier, essentially hand made, probably mid four figure price for a certain premium market. And then the others, for the mass market, where they can churn out high volumes of essentially identical wheels for the aftermarket, and high volume OE customer, like Mazda.

About 120,000 Eunos Roadsters were made; Nardi supplied wheels for factory fit and dealer fit. % of Roadsters that were V-Specs? 10% is my guess. So 12,000 wood Classicos to be supplied. I would not be surprised to find that Nardi used another wood besides mahogany was used for a customer liked Mazda, who had very high standards in batch to batch variation. In addition, V-Spec wheels started cracking 20 years ago. Got a feeling those sold to Ferrari lasted longer.

Doing some reading it appears that some older wheels were made using African Golden Mahogany as well as Asian/American mahogany. Unfortunately it is now an endangered species so is not used any longer, save for old stock that was processed before the ban.

It’d surprise me if the number of v-specs was as high as 10%, but I could be wrong! Still your point is completely valid, it’d certainly be a sufficient amount of orders to warrant Mazda having a degree of influence over what was made and how. Who knows whether the manufacturing processes used for our wheels were different to that of Ferrari, though I would say a Eunos would be much more likely to lead a rough and tumble life than a cosseted Dino or California!

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Some of the wooden items I have personally stripped back over the years to refurb with these roadsters looks like it was more of a meranti wood rather than a mahogany wood, but still an hard wood tight grained timber.

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