Miles Cook
July 25, 2006

Sooner or later, most vintage Mustang owners experience vague steering while driving their cars. First-generation Mustangs aren't much fun to drive when the worn original steering box is still in place and untouched after 35-40 years of service. Even with new ball joints and a new steering linkage, the symptoms of a worn steering box are still felt with a large on-center spot, little or no road feel, and wandering at freeway speeds that requires constant correction.

You'll also have a situation where the steering wheel can be turned several inches to either side with no change in direction. It's a spooky feeling when traffic is tight and the lanes are narrow. Even with a rebuilt or new steering box, an old Mustang's steering can't compare to the precise feel of the rack-and-pinion steering in modern cars, including the newer Mustangs.

Luckily, this is no longer the case as there are many manufacturers offering aftermarket steering upgrades. Rack-and-pinion conversions have become a popular option for owners of vintage Mustangs. A modern rack-and-pinion steering system eliminates the on-center spot and offers improved steering accuracy, reduced effort, and considerably improved freeway tracking ability. There are systems that require little or no permanent modification to the car, and both manual and power steering setups are available. Let's take a look at your choices.

DB Performance Engineering
DB Performance Engineering's power rack-and-pinion system converts '65-'68 Mustangs to a quick-response, low-effort steering setup. Designed to accommodate large tires, it has a quick steering-gear ratio of 16:1 and 3.25 turns lock-to-lock. The heavy-duty front crossmember strengthens the car's front end and is adjustable to eliminate bumpsteer, which is important for lowered cars. Also included is a new five-position tilt steering column with the emergency-flasher switch built in.

The system also includes Borgeson needle-bearing steering-shaft U-joints for connecting the rack and the column. All hardware, hydraulic fittings, and instructions are provided with the kit, and no welding or major cutting is required for the installation.

DBPE is also a full-service vintage and late-model performance shop that offers other conversions such as disc brakes, a power brake booster with a dual-reservoir master cylinder, and 5.0L EFI conversions, as well as AOD and T5 transmission conversions for early Mustangs.

Flaming River
Flaming River offers rack-and-pinion cradle steering systems for '65-'70 Mustangs, now in both manual and power versions. The power rack-and-pinion system carries PN FR300PW1, and it's a direct bolt-in installation to the existing steering-box and idler-arm mounting holes on the subframe. No cutting, drilling, grinding, or welding is required. The manual and power systems retain the full-turn radius, and the cradle position maintains correct steering geometry. Both systems install with basic hand tools and are available with or without Flaming River's tilt column. The column is available with a paintable, stainless mill finish or a polished stainless finish. Columns that accept a stock Mustang steering wheel are also available.

The cradle mounts in the original location without chassis modifications, and the center support doesn't have to be removed. The systems include a manual or power rack-and-pinion and the mounting cradle, Grade 8 mounting hardware, universal joints, steering shaft, and support bearing. Power systems also come with a variable-pressure pump and billet-aluminum reservoir. For now, the power systems fit cars with 289/302 engines and stock exhaust systems. Manual systems work with 289/302/351W and FE 390/428 engines with factory exhaust or headers.