Rediscovering MOMO’s Heritage
Photography by Ted Gushue
Founded in 1964 by gentleman racer Gianpiero Moretti, MOMO has historically been one of the most performance oriented brands on the market. That said, they’ve had their ups and downs, dabbling with brand dilution in the automotive sound system market in the 90’s and 00’s, and making risky investments into the automotive wheel space early on when others were shying away. Despite where you think MOMO has been, there can be no questioning their motorsport heritage. Which is why I was so pleased to discover their Heritage line in person last night during the LA Auto Show.
On hand were some of the best examples of MOMO’s heritage, including the latest BMW build from our friend Mike Burroughs at Stanceworks, the ’55 Special Emory Outlaw, Paul Newman’s 935 recently acquired by Adam Carolla and more. Over the course of the event I was able to grab a few minutes with MOMO CEO Massimo Ciocca about where the brand has been and where they are headed.
Ted Gushue: What was the first car you ever drove?
Massimo Ciocca: Alfa Romeo Duetto
TG: What year was that?
MC: 35 years ago!
TG: What were you doing before you were at MOMO?
MC: Nothing! I was at University.
TG: So you’ve seen the company through some very turbulent times.
MC: Absolutely. At that time the Moretti family was the owner of the company. In 27 years I’ve worked with five different owners. At the beginning I was an assistant taking care of the Benelux area (Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland). I slowly evolved my interest in the company.
TG: How would you compare the MOMO of today to the company you started working for in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s?
MC: The Company and the market is totally different today. Let’s say 10 years ago we were doing fewer rims and more steering wheels. Today it is exactly the opposite. The airbag ate some of our market share when regulations came in. When I joined MOMO in 1989 on one of my first business trips I realized that airbags were going to be a problem for us. There was a great market risk for us, so I started to convince the company step by step to invest in the road wheel business. Anyhow, I have to say that this year our sales of steering wheels, including tuning and racing, is at an all-time high for us. We think that these are some of the best wheels that we’ve ever produced and the marketplace is responding well to that. The rims still represent our future, but launching the Heritage line is a big step forward for us.
TG: When dit it become sustainable for MOMO to develop vintage style performance steering wheels?
MC: Two years ago was the 50th anniversary of the company and so we decided to produce a book of our history and when I gave the book as a Christmas gift to our distributors everybody kept talking about how great our steering wheels from the past were. At that time in Europe there was a higher and higher demand for historical car steering wheels. After talking with my shareholders and all of my colleagues, we took on the ambitious project of launching our Heritage line.
TG: Did you still have the woodworking capability in place?
MC: Yes, of course, our factories are multi-generational. Sons working where their fathers did. Our intention is to scale this business in a way that pays homage to every single decade of MOMO. To do so we have to maintain the standards we have kept up and the techniques we have mastered over many decades.