My 1974 4-door Triumph Toledo 1300 "HL Special" has been equipped with two different steering wheels during its lifetime.
Originally, it had the standard factory-fitted Toledo two-spoke (black) unpadded steering wheel of circa 16 inches diameter with rigid-black-plastic central trim pad .
In 1982, for reasons originally associated with having a steering-column-mounted windscreen wiper & washer stalk-switch, instead of a dashboard-mounted windscreen wiper & washer rotary-switch, I substituted a Triumph Dolomite 1500/1850HL adjustable steering column, complete with three-spoke (satin-finish chromium plated) leather-covered, padded steering wheel of circa 14½ inches diameter with circular black-foam central trim pad (embossed with the word “TRIUMPH” rather than “DOLOMITE”).
For both comfort and convenience, I prefer the Dolomite HL 14½ inches diameter, padded steering wheel. However, I have found the satin-finish chromium plated spokes to be a source of uncomfortable and debilitating glare, arising from reflected sunlight at certain incident angles. Before I complete renovation work on my car, I either need to paint the spokes with satin-black or matt-black paint, or find a substitute steering wheel with black spokes.
Having a smaller-diameter steering wheel, makes it easier and more convenient to operate the two steering-column-mounted, combination stalk-switches [for (a) headlamp dip & flash, direction indicators and horn, and (b) windscreen washers & wipers and single flick-wipe] with one’s finger tips, whilst still holding the steering-wheel rim.
The leather-covered padded steering-wheel rim, is easier and more comfortable to hold, during either hot or cold weather. The rim became neither too hot nor too cold to hold. In hot weather, my sweaty hands can better grip the leather steering-wheel glove and in winter, my hands don’t get unbearably cold as they did when gripping the Toledo’s original uninsulated-steel steering-wheel rim.
Being of smaller diameter, the steering wheel is more comfortable for me to hold and turn when steering; possibly because I am of relatively slight physical build (i.e. not broad across the shoulders) and there is probably an optimal separation between one’s hands for comfort, dependent upon the separation between the one’s shoulder joints (i.e. ball & socket joints at the heads of the humorous bones).
Broad-shouldered people, might find the 16 inch diameter steering wheel to be more comfortable to hold, but will find the stalk-switches less easy and convenient to operate.
I have used the Dolomite HL 14½ inch diameter steering wheel on my Toledo, in conjunction with the following wheel & tyre combinations:
175 SR13 (i.e. 175/80 SR13) tyres on 5½ x 13 inch Cosmic aluminium-alloy wheels (21 mm offset)
185/70 SR13 tyres on 5½ x 13 inch Cosmic aluminium-alloy wheels (21 mm offset)
185/70 SR13 tyres on 5½J x 13 inch Dolomite Sprint GKN aluminium-alloy wheels (35 mm offset)
For none of these combinations of wheel & tyre, was the steering excessively heavy for urban driving or parking in tight spaces; even for a 9½ stone (i.e. 60 kg) weakling like me!
In the future, in an attempt to future-proof my Triumph Toledo regarding availability and economical cost of replacement tyres, I shall be using one or other of the following wheel & tyre combinations:
185/65 R15 tyres on 5½J x 15 inch MG 2000 Maestro cross-lattice style aluminium-alloy wheels (31 mm offset)
185/60 R15 tyres on 5½J x 15 inch MG 2000 Maestro cross-lattice style aluminium-alloy wheels (31 mm offset)
185/55 R15 tyres on 5½J x 15 inch MG 2000 Maestro cross-lattice style aluminium-alloy wheels (31 mm offset)
I shall probably be using my existing Dolomite HL 14½ inch diameter steering wheel on my Toledo, to steer one or other of the aforementioned wheel & tyre combinations, with which I don’t anticipate any difficulty.
Nigel A. Skeet
Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.
Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)
Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club