Automobile safety was a learning curve during the 60s, much as it still is today. One of the first safety features to come down the pike after seatbelts and padded dashboards was the collapsible steering wheel and column for 68-and-later Fords. If youre at all familiar with pre-68 Fords, you know they had a solid steering-wheel shaft all the way down to the steering gear. In a crash, it doesnt give.
Thankfully, its possible to retrofit a used 68-69 Ford/Mercury collapsible steering column into a pre-68 Mustang, Cougar, Falcon, Fairlane, or Comet. There are two ways to do it. If original appearance is important, you can modify the column to work with the pre-68 top collar that houses the turn-signal switch. If originality doesnt matter, you can transplant the entire 68-69 column into an older Ford.
The collapsible steering column consists of a collapsible steering wheel, a steering shaft, an inner tube, and a column. Three-quarters of the way down the column there is a plastic-wrapped, perforated section that collapses in a collision when the drivers body contacts the steering wheel. The column, inner tube, and steering shaft collapse, taking the impact instead of the driver. The steering differs because there isnt the solid shaft used from 67 and earlier, with a rag-joint coupling the steering shaft with the steering gear.
To convert to a collapsible steering column, you will need a short-shaft steering gear, which we obtained new from Flaming River Industries. Memory Lane Auto Salvage in Sun Valley, California, outfitted us with a used 68 Mustang collapsible steering column for our 67 Mustang.