AUTO BREVITY


1967 Ford Deep-Padded Steering Wheel Hub

Automotive Mileposts
Image: 1967 Ford steering wheel

Ford's 1967 impact-absorbing steering wheel with deep-padded hub

One of the most distinctive features of the 1967 Ford Motor Company cars is also an easy way to identify them as a '67 model


Safety was all the rage in the mid to late sixties, with new government-mandated safety features becoming standard equipment on new cars every year. Occupant safety was the top priority, and interior components that could injure occupants were under heavy scrutiny. A key item identified early on as potentially dangerous to the driver was the steering wheel, hub, and column. As early as 1956, Ford Motor Company led the way in automotive safety with its Lifeguard Design Safety Features, which included a deep dish steering wheel as standard equipment on all of its 1956 models. But in 1956, safety wasn't selling - horsepower was - so the public at large didn't fully appreciate the benefits of Ford's components designed to protect and prevent injury.

Before long, automotive safety would become a big government concern, led to some degree by Ralph Nader's condemnation of the Chevrolet Corvair, which he felt was Unsafe At Any Speed. In short order, safety became more important to new car buyers, and auto manufacturers rushed to meet the new safety requirements.

In 1967, Ford rolled out the impact-absorbing steering wheel with deep-padded hub on most of its cars. This distinctive design is unique to 1967 Ford cars, and is an easy way to identify the car as such, since it was used only in 1967. These hubs were made of two components: an inner core of molded urethane foam, and an outer layer of polyvinylchloride, covered in a soft vinyl. The hub was designed to progressively collapse on impact, protecting the driver. Further, the steering wheel itself was also designed to yield on impact, cushioning the blow and reducing the likelihood of serious injury to the driver.

The same basic padded hub design was used in all divisions, with the center emblem changing to identify the model. So whether the hub was destined for installation in a sporty Ford Mustang or a plush Lincoln Continental, they were the same with the exception of the center emblem.

Safety was selling in 1967, and this one item was perhaps the most readily identifiable new safety feature of the year.