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Mike Lempert | profile | all galleries >> Lempert Wheels >> Slotted, Derington Style Steering Wheels >> The Victor Derrington Steering Wheel >> A Blog for Healey listers tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

A Blog for Healey listers

Derrington and Nardi are possibly the most well know names in steering wheels. Victor Derrington is the originator of the Derrington steering wheel and also had a patent applied for on October 18, 1954 and granted on October 5, 1955. Victor did make various styles (spoke configurations), including dished, but it was the flat, slotted spoke with even spacing that became the wheel most think of when hearing the name Derrington. And since those early days and the popularity of his steering wheel, the name Derrington has become a generic for any wheel with that spoke configuration. However, the original Victor Derrington wheel had very specific characteristics that allow it to stand out among all the others. They are: slotted spoke, even spacing, an eight hole center mounting, and laminate rim from mahogany and either obeechi or white sycamore (actually maple). Those original wheels had either nine or twelve rivets in the rim. They were produced as 16" standard with 15" and 17" as special order. At some point Victor adopted the more standard nine hole center mounting and started to outsource some of his work. Moto-Lita was one of the outsource providers. Simon Green had started Moto-Lita in 1957 as a very young man. During some period of time in the early '60s, Simon provided "Derrington" steering wheels to Healey for optional sales. Healey provided a sticky badge with each one indicating that it came from Healey and it also had the customer's name on it. It was a nice touch of personalization. The Moto-Lita made wheels were not of the same high quality of Victors wheels.

Victor also made wheels during that time, but since his wheels were not marked, and there were others making them, there is not way of being certain which ones were actually made by Derrington other than a guess based on assessment of quality and certain details. Today we might consider any wheel of the same spoke configuration and ply style laminate rim to be a Derrington "style" wheel, but as with everything else, a precise Derrington replica would have certain of those original characteristics. While I very much admire what Simon Green did there at Moto-Lita, and his ability to survive through all the lean years when wood rimmed wheels fell out of favor, his early wheels were not of very high quality. Today, Moto-Lita makes a number of wheel styles, but with little attention to detail when replicating certain important designs of the past. The Moto-Lita rim of today is a ring cut from marine plywood, not the high quality mahogany and obeechi laminate of earlier Victor days. Moto-Lita is a steering wheel mill focused mostly on fading profit. Sadly, Nardi also suffered in quality after Enrico's death in 1966.

My blog on the Victor Derrington steering wheel may be helpful with details I have not covered here:

I will be happy to answer any question on the details of the Derrington should anyone have an interest.

Mike Lempert