words by el jefe
rather than list every option for each of the four models, I thought it best to pair the words I'm just beginning to learn with the corresponding image. by seeing the actual "option" as opposed to visualizing it in your head, it allows one to have a better understanding of what the letter M followed by three numbers actually represents.
so let's begin with 944 opition M416 as a pilot, shall we?
M416 - 380MM 4-spoke steering wheel (leather)
M416 - 380MM 3-spoke steering wheel (leather)
or a vague one like this:
M416 - leather steering wheel and shift boot
if you were to specifically look at the MY1982-MY1985 parts catalog for the 944 in search of a leather wrapped 380MM three-spoke steering wheel, you'd come across two images; one of a three-spoke wheel, and one of a four-spoke. the three-spoke has part number 944 347 084 04 labeled sports steering wheel leather 380MM and under the remark column is our protagonist character, M416.
curiously, the same three-spoke steering with the same part number and the same M416 option code also surfaces in the PET catalog for the MY1986-MY1988 924, only this time they list option M416 under their options code pages where it declares this option to be a 4-SPOKES STEERING WHEEL (LEATHER) DIAMETER 380MM.
what we have here then is a case of bullshit vagaries that confuses enthusiasts, the part number on the wheel itself is the only way to be sure; and currently, it's what I'm after.
now this steering wheel is of similar design to the one found on the early 928 normal from 1978 until about 1982, and the 911 Carreras, Turbos, and SCs beginning around 1974 up until about 1984; the 924 would use it in the Turbo MY1979 and see it through the end of the 924 line with the S model.
getting back to the point, what you got with this option in the 944 (MY1982-MY1985.1 pre-oval dash) was a 380MM three-spoke steering wheel (part number 944 347 084 04) wrapped in either black leather coded 1AJ or brown leather coded 4RB along with a matching leather gear shift boot/knob assembly (part number 931 424 075 00).
to match the false hide look, you also got a gear shift resembling a circumcised penis since the knob part is unsheathed plastic with a leatherette boot covering the base...the designers must've had a good laugh penning this one up as I'm sure some prankster in the studio probably drew a series of penises suggesting a sort of evolution to the finished product.
rendered in two pieces, you've got the knob part number 477 711 289A which was also used in the 924 MY1980-MY1985 with gearbox 016.8/9 and the 924S MY1986-MY1988. this too is called leatherette but like the pretentious steering wheel, there's no covering, just some sort of grain of no cow hide I've ever seen molded into it. interestingly, the only color available in this particular vintage of 944 is 01C black; the 924S offers it in 89S brown.
at the base of the shifter is what one would associate when visualizing the word leatherette, a leather-like textured material resembling the real thing. the boot, part number 944 424 023 00, is only available in 05T black in this 944 which is shared only with the MY1986-MY1988 924S; the difference being that this model also offers it in 4RB brown to match the brown knob.
this is what I'm currently in search of because someone somewhere, maybe even you, can confirm exactly what steering wheel M416 is supposed to use.
the three spoke steering wheel was gradually phased out of the 944 in mid to late MY1985, but it continued on in the 924 S as we clearly see in the above two images until they eventually ran out, so it could possibly be that as the three spoke supply was dwindling, the four spoke began taking its place in both 380MM and 363MM sizes. this would mean that M416 would have to evolve to accommodate the four spoke which is probably why option M416 reads 4 SPOKES STEERING WHEEL (LEATHER), DIAMETER 380MM in the MY1986-MY1988 924 S parts catalogue.
now, all I need is to see part number 944 347 084 04 on a three spoke wheel to confirm everything I've just mentioned...
I'll leave you with another oddity of mysterious proportions below; a leatherette four spoke steering wheel in an Italian-spec MY1982 944; the search is on.