Wayne Cook
April 13, 2006

This month, we have a classic Mustang upgrade going to a fellow who can really use it. Our man lives high up in California's San Bernardino Mountains in the remote community of Big Bear. All three of the two-lane roads leading there are circuitous routes full of sharp curves and dangerous drop-offs. There's little room for error on the arduous climb, and keeping his Windsor-powered '69 fastback on the road can sometimes be a handful.

The standard manual steering in this car has given over 35 years of service. Those of you familiar with early Mustangs know that this usually means a cavernous on-center spot and lots of play at the steering wheel. Even with a new steering linkage and suspension, the mountain-driving experience is a challenge our vintage Mustang enthusiast doesn't relish.

In the Fall of 1968, this SportsRoof Mustang was delivered new with only a 351 Windsor engine and an AM radio for options. There was no power steering to help with low-speed maneuvering or parallel parking. Back in the day when an F-70-14 tire was considered large, this wasn't too much of a problem. However, the car now has beefy P225/50R16 radial tires with a much larger contact patch out in front. Consequently, the low-speed steering requires more effort.

This photo shows the complete Total Control power rack-and-pinion kit from Chris Alston's Chassisworks. In addition to the rack itself, the kit is all-inclusive with a power-steering pump and mounting bracket, pressure hoses, and a remotely-mounted fluid reservoir. The kit has a value of $1,995, and the manual system is available for $1,295.

Our friend says parallel parking his fastback is like parking a dump truck, and his wife won't go near the car. When word got out that a Total Control (TC) power rack-and-pinion steering installation was on the M&F assignment sheet, he was naturally quite interested.

Total Control is now part of Chris Alston's Chassisworks, and we know from past experience that the TC power rack-and-pinion kit is an excellent upgrade and a good value. The kit provides the precise steering our friend is after, as well as reduced turning-effort at the wheel.

After going over the kit, we realized that Chris Alston has dramatically upgraded the installation instructions. Divided into separate task categories for the job as a whole, they are so concise we had no reservations about tackling the installation in a home garage with only a floor jack and jackstands to assist us.