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Steering Column 101

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Tags: Tech, Steering
Breaking down the differences

It’s that glorious magical connection between your hands and the wheels. You spin the wheel, and that car starts to turn. Yes, we’re talking about that steering column. Years ago, if you wanted a particular steering column, you went down to one of your local salvage yards and found the column that you were looking for. The problem is pickings are getting a bit slim nowadays for vintage columns.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Several companies have taken up the task of building columns that look good in just about anything you can think of. We broke down the selections available here at Speedway Motors to make it a bit easier to decide what may be the best option.

Cut-to-fit Hot Rod, Nostalgia:

Black, stainless, or raw finish, you select the length you want and we send it to you ready to drop in. Most are set up in the popular Grant 3-bolt steering wheel pattern. The Nostalgia styles feature an attractive bell-shaped upper housing, and include turn signals, hazards, and horn functions.

Where you could find these: Honestly, they will look good just about anywhere you put them. They are however most at home in your T-Bucket, in a ’32 Roadster, and many pre-war (’48) cars and early pick-ups. Another option you can consider for these columns is kit cars, along the lines of your Cobra roadsters and such. Most of the decision here will be personal preference.

Tilt Columns:

If you want the versatility of adjusting the steering wheel angle, a tilt column may be the route to go. Stainless, satin, or painted finish, GM patterns can accept any OEM GM 1964-94 steering wheel or an aftermarket wheel with the proper adapter. Tilt/ turn and hazard knobs are included. These are a 5-position tilt system, built for universal and direct bolt-in applications.

Where you could find these: These probably have the widest span of applications that would be appropriate. Sedans, roadsters, trucks, actually just about anything 1950-1980 would serve as a great host for these simple, clean columns.


Slim and trim, these lose the majority of the extra brackets found on OEM applications. Designed around this concept, they have a 2” tube, utilize a standard 3 7/8” GM harness, 8-position tilt and can telescope up to 1 ½”. They are built for a GM 9-bolt steering wheel, and adapters are available for alternative applications. Hazards, self-cancelling turn signals, and wiring for the horn and a horn kit are included in the package.

Where you could find these: If you like your creature comforts, chances are these columns are for you. Tilt, telescope, self cancelling turn signals, it’s likely that you can find these in the luxury breeds of the day. Think something along the lines of a 1950 Cadillac, leaded and slammed ’49 Mercury, and most anything with a fat fender and cramped cabin. Speaking of which, if you have classic where space in the driver’s seat is limited, (either by personal choice or engineer design) this is also a good option.

No matter what direction you choose to go, Speedway Motors has you covered with a large selection of mounts, bases, u-joints, shafts and adapters and steering wheels to help you make this portion of your project smooth and easy.

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