Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 26, 2011
Photos By: Courtesy the Manufacturers

Rack-and-pinion conversions rank among the most popular modifications for vintage Mustangs. And why not? Even when new, the Mustang's original recirculating ball steering box provided less-than-ideal precision. After thousands of miles of use, and in combination with original linkage designed in the 1960s, the steering in most of today's '65-'70 Mustangs feels vague and even downright scary with a loose feel and as much a five turns lock-to-lock, especially when climbing out of a late-model Mustang.

That's why Ford switched to rack-and-pinion steering for the Mustang II in 1974. But you can also get the same precise late-model steering for your '65-'70 Mustang with one of the bolt-in kits offered by the manufacturers listed here. Most can be installed with the factory steering linkage, although you'll really experience an improvement if you add coilover strut suspension, as offered by companies like Total Control Products and Gateway Performance Suspension, at the same time. Fatman Fabrications only offers their rack-and-pinion as part of their strut Independent Front Suspension system.

Modern rack-and-pinion steering eliminates the on-center spot and offers improved steering accuracy, reduced effort (especially with power-assist), and considerably improved highway tracking ability. Installation requires little or no modification to the car.

Flaming River

Since 1987, Flaming River has been offering rack-and-pinion steering systems for street rods and classic cars, including '65-'70 Mustangs. The latest is the Power Rack-and-Pinion for Flaming River's Cradle System, which mounts in the original chassis location utilizing the mounting holes from the original steering box and idler arm. No modifications are required to the chassis and the factory crossmember stays in place. With over six inches of travel and full lock-to-lock turning radius, the Flaming River rack-and-pinion provides driving comfort and improved steering performance. The rack-and-pinion unit is completely new and allows for an adjustable pinion angle. No core charge is required.

Flaming River offers over a dozen kits for '65-'70 Mustangs with a variety of steering column, steering wheel (original or aftermarket), and spindle (original or Granada) choices. Kits are supplied with a tilt steering column (except when no column is requested), wiring adaptor, mounting hardware, power steering pump and mounting bracket, and polished aluminum reservoir. Universal joints, shafts, and support bearing are also included to tie the rack-and-pinion to the steering column.

All Flaming River Rack-and Pinion Cradle Systems are designed for a factory original platform vehicle. Flaming River notes that variations or modifications to the car's original chassis, suspension, drivetrain, and drive height may require additional modifications to properly install the rack-and-pinion.

Depending on the part number, prices range from $1,600 to $2,100.

Total Control Products

Although it's been over a decade, Total Control Products is still well-remembered as the company that supplied the rack-and-pinion and coilover suspensions for the '67 Eleanor Mustangs the movie "Gone in Sixty Seconds." Now part of Chris Alston's Chassisworks, TCP continues to offer high-quality rack-and-pinion kits for '65-'70 Mustangs. Both manual and power versions feature a quick ratio and straight-cut gears that require only three turns lock-to-lock, compared to 4-5/8-turns for standard OEM steering and 3-3/4 turns for performance Mustang steering boxes.

TCP's unique modular design utilizes an assortment of mounting brackets and centerlinks to adapt to vintage Mustangs. Existing factory mounting locations are used to simplify the rack installation. Installed, the rack's rigid crossmember replaces the factory's bent tubular crossmember to better brace the lower control arm mounts. The design positions the rack's gearbox against the driver-side framerail so the steering shaft and universal joints remain close to the frame as well as to provide improved header and exhaust clearance.

Offered as either manual or power systems for '65-'70 Mustangs, TCP's rack-and-pinion kits are available to work with both factory and aftermarket steering columns. Installation in '65-'66 Mustangs requires V-8 spindles and tie-rod assemblies. With TCP's power rack-and-pinion, the level of assist can be varied to meet driver needs.

Prices for manual TCP racks start at $1,398; power racks start at $2,098. They're also available in right-hand drive for Mustang owners in Australia and New Zealand.

SpeedDirect Steeroids

When purchased with the available steering column, SpeedDirect's Steeroids rack-and-pinion steering conversion for '65-'70 Mustangs is a true bolt-on, requiring no permanent modifications to the vehicle for enhanced steering feel, lighter weight, and the elimination of leaks. The Steeroids rack-and-pinion kits include a remanufactured quick-ratio GM Saginaw rack that yields approximately 2.5 turns lock-to-lock with power steering or 2.9 turns with the manual unit. Supplied adaptor brackets bolt to the frame in the same holes as the factory steering. A slight modification is required if using a stock steering column.

The Steeroids system is the only vintage Mustang rack-and-pinion that includes adjustable tie-rod ends to eliminate bumpsteer, whether the vehicle is lowered or not. The kit includes all the components and hardware necessary to completely replace the stock steering system. Available as manual or power systems, the power racks come with hoses that fit the factory pump. The manual system (higher steering effort but less weight) is permanently lubricated, so there is no maintenance.

The Steeroids kit installs with basic hand tools in approximately 3-5 hours. Prices start at under $1,200 for systems without a steering column.

Unisteer Performance Products

A division of Maval Manufacturing, Unisteer is a manufacturer of steering systems and components for street rods and classic cars, plus they offer steering for custom-built vehicles. For Mustangs, Unisteer offers 15 bolt-on kits specifically for '65-'70 models, with variations for small-block and big-block cars, chrome finishes, and model years, including a specific kit for early '67 Mustangs. Unisteer's custom steering gear is engineered to match the stock suspension while also eliminating bump steer. Each kit comes with everything needed for installation on Mustangs with the factory steering column.

Most Unisteer rack-and-pinion kits for vintage Mustangs are priced under $1,600.

Randall's Rack

Randall's Rack and Pinion specializes in '65-'70 Mustang power rack-and-pinion conversions. The kits are supplied with the rack unit mounted to Randall's own one-piece crossmember, which strengthens the front end due to its -inch steel construction compared to the original tubular crossmember. It also manages the side-to-side motion of the rack and provides maximum clearance for short- or long-tube headers. The rack and crossmember mount to the frame at seven points using grade 8 bolts. The rack provides three turns lock-to-lock.

A recent upgrade to the Randall's rack-and-pinion allows the use of the factory tie-rods, which simplifies the bolt-in installation.

Starting a $1,695, the Randall's system utilizes the original steering column and wheel, so parts are included to adapt the factory steering shaft to the rack. Lines are supplied to connect to either original power steering pumps or to Randall's available aluminum pumps with brackets and hoses for Ford engines.

Gateway Performance Suspension

The GPS Rack System from Gateway Classic Mustang is designed to bolt up to the stock mounting locations without removing the factory lower crossmember. It works with the stock power steering pump, although GPS recommends stepping up to their race-inspired KRC pump system. GPS offers hose kits for both pumps.

The GPS rack systems come with a new steering column shaft kit to adapt to the rack-and-pinion. Also supplied are new upper and lower steering column bearings, inner tie-rod ends, and billet aluminum draglink with replaceable steel tapered tie-rod end inserts. A stabilizer system keeps the draglink level from lock-to-lock.

The $1,995 GPS rack-and-pinion works with both the factory steering or with the GPS coil-over strut front suspensions.

Fatman Fabrications

Unlike most of the other rack-and-pinion systems for vintage Mustangs, Fatman Fabrication's rack comes as part of a complete strut independent front suspension. Fatman's Brent Vandervort feels that the best way to obtain modern handling and steering is to upgrade to a strut-type suspension. Based on '94-'04 Mustang parts, the Fatman suspension eliminates factory bump steer and provides adjustable ride height.

A recent upgrade to the Fatman kit includes the use of a newer OEM Ford rack-and-pinion with larger tie rods along with a different U-joint connection that allows more room for headers. That rear-steer power rack also allows the use of standard oil pans.

Fatman offers front strut IRS systems for '65-'66 and '67-'73 Mustangs. Prices start at $1,995, with available options like tilt steering, power brakes, and Shockwave Airstruts.