With 2022 fast approaching, we are getting down to the final few posts before the annual year-end review. It’s no secret that the first few months of next year will still be heavy with 2021 photos as we continue fully documenting the year’s projects and events – our climate limits car season to about half of the year so building up a stockpile of photos and video is a necessity for steady content year-round – but there are a few posts I wish to have go live prior to the calendar changeover. One of those is today’s, as it shows what was Yolanda’s last major update to her ST for 2021.
Over the years there have of course been times we carried out installs on her car in my garage, but for the times when the work didn’t happen here Yolanda has always been great about capturing photos along the way so that the process could be shared on the site regardless. This install was one of those instances so following the completion she sent over what she had captured to accompany the photos that I was set to take the next time I saw her car.
One thing Yolanda clearly isn’t shy about adding to her ST is carbon fiber. The weave is showing up in more and more places, but without a doubt this is the most significant and eye-catching part of the collection: a custom-made carbon fiber and leather steering wheel from Big 6ix Industries.
The odd Mk3 owner goes the aftermarket wheel route with a completely new wheel and quick release setup but beyond giving up the airbag you’ll also lose out on all of the controls integrated into the stock wheel, and unless you relocate the buttons from the left spoke specifically you’ll also completely lose the ability to control the instrument panel’s built-in display and all of its screens. For that, most owners changing up their steering wheels go with an offering built around an OEM base, and this is exactly that.
Interestingly, the specific base used in the construction of Yolanda’s wheel was reportedly a Japanese market piece, so mad JDM points and all that. Over that base, carbon fiber was used for the top and bottom sections of the rim while the sides were upholstered in perforated leather similar to the OEM ST wheel, though with a completely different shape. Finally, some blue stitching was used to hold everything together.
With the new wheel unboxed and ready to go, it was time to take the original wheel off to get the swap underway. The upper shroud was removed, connections unplugged, and central nut undone.
Little explodey bag of safety, removed from the stock wheel. Pro tip when you’re dealing with airbags: don’t leave them like this (always set them face up) but this is so you can see how the buttons and such attach to this central cover. You’ll note that only the two circular button packs are affixed to this…
…because the buttons for cruise control (left) and phone (or radio in other models, right), meanwhile, attach to the wheel itself. This side-by-side shows how much more sculpture there is to the new wheel’s grips, and highlights the slight flat-bottom design as well. One nice touch is that there’s still an ST logo on the bottom, though just the lettering instead of the full plate that the OEM wheels have.
The new wheel going on, with the wiring being fed though from the column.
With the wheel bolted back on, electrical connections done up, and the central airbag/switch housing popped back in place, the shroud could go back on and this install was complete!
Yolanda included a couple of detail shots as well for good measure.
With the install now dealt with and her photos in my inbox, fast-forward to one of the Tuner Tailgate meets and I was able to not only see (and feel) the wheel for myself but grab these final photos as well. Talk about a change! With all of the other weave on display around the interior this wheel fits right in and really helps it stand out against the other local Mk3s’ interiors.
The little centering marker is a nice touch as well, and being red (the ST accent colour) it ties in with little details like the cluster’s needles.
There’s no avoiding the fact that this was clearly one of the more expensive updates to the car given the materials and labour in its construction, but it is easily one of the most significant and eye-catching as well. Despite this addition though, the itch still hasn’t been scratched and I know for a fact that Yolanda has yet more carbon fiber en route for 2022. Hopefully schedules will allow for that to be one of the season’s first installs in my garage!