Jim Smart
November 29, 2010

Nearly a century ago, automobile security began with door and ignition locks. As the bad guys became more creative, automakers, along with Washington and insurance companies, had to become even smarter, with the federal government mandating anti-theft locking steering columns for the '70 model year. General Motors got the jump, installing locking steering columns in '69 along with a key reminder buzzer.

With Ford locking steering columns, the ignition lock cylinder is located at the top of the column, just below the steering wheel, while the actual ignition switch is located below the collar on the column tube, activated by a simple linkage. The steering wheel locking mechanism is located in the collar just below the steering wheel. A long tube within the steering column with a lever at the steering gear is what keeps the transmission selector in Park (automatic transmissions) or Reverse (manual transmissions) when the ignition is turned off and locked. It's harder to steal a car in Park or Reverse.

Although Ford locking steering columns went through minor revisions during the 1970s, their basic function changed little, many in the area of safety. The design of collapsible steering columns changed in the years following 1970 as more was learned about crashes and their effects on occupants. As we examine '70-'78 Ford locking steering columns, we learn that '70 was a stand-alone column for one year only. Model years '71-'72 had the same column, with minor changes at the end of '72 that continued through '73. For '74-'78, there were two types of locking steering columns-one more like '73 for '74-'75 and another in '76-'78 with the windshield wiper switch located in the turn signal lever.

For this article, we're going to focus the function of fixed (non-tilt) '70-'78 Mustang steering columns. In a later issue, we'll show how to rebuild a '70-'78 locking steering column-both fixed and tilt.

As mentioned earlier, '70 is a stand-alone locking steering column. Although '71-'78 columns are virtually the same at the collar, Ford located the ignition switch farther down the column to move it under the dashboard and out of harm's way, making access more difficult for thieves. For '70, the linear-actuated ignition switch is tied directly to the ignition lock actuator just below the collar. The transmission lock operates via a tube within a tube to the moving collar just below the fixed collar. The tube and collar, which are hidden by a plastic sleeve, move to the locked position when automatics are placed in Park or manual transmissions are placed in Reverse. The actuator pin mechanism moves into the rotating collar, locking the transmission in Reverse or Park.

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Removing The Ignition Lock Cylinder
Removing the ignition lock cylinder is the same from '70-'78. Like '65-'69 Mustangs, you need the key for ignition lock cylinder removal. Turn the ignition key to "on" and insert a paper clip into the hole as shown. The lock cylinder should come right out. Just grab it by the ears and give it a yank. This gives you access to the locking mechanism. You can turn the lock mechanism with a common screwdriver.

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