View Full Version : Lifeguard Steering Wheels

12-23-2013, 06:00 PM
I had read somewhere once that the deep-dish "Lifeguard" steering wheels in Falcons were designed to collapse on impact. Wikipedia says:"In 1956 Ford came out with a safety steering wheel that was set high above the post with spokes that would flex."

Here is what a 1956 brochure said about the then new Lifeguard steering wheel:

I came across these photos of a wrecked 1963 Falcon convertible that is in New York state.

Take a look at the steering wheel! It provided "cushioning" as it was designed to do and is collapsed nearly flat. (You should still wear seat belts, and a shoulder restraint if possible.) The Falcon did not have an energy absorbing steering column like on later cars, but the steering wheel itself provides an energy absorbing function. The interior space of the Falcon stayed surprisingly intact given the severity of the collision.

Engine bay:

12-23-2013, 06:35 PM
I was in the US Army in the very early 60's. Uncle Sam used to make us watch movies (remember them; predecessor to videos?) that were supposed to graphically make us aware of the consequences of not driving safely. I remember the one that showed many pictures of JEEP steering columns wearing GI's chests instead of a steering wheel. So, dished steering wheels WERE a great safety feature.

Jeff W
12-23-2013, 06:42 PM
I bet if it wasn't covered up by the crumpled fender, you would still see the original single bowl master cylinder.

I hope the driver/passengers are not badly hurt. This picture is a good motivation for all to upgrade to 1967 technology and install the dual master cylinder.

01-18-2014, 05:48 AM
I came across this picture of a "totaled 1961 Ranchero daily driver" from Hornbrook, CA. The owner is parting it out on e-bay, so he survived the crash. What I found amazing is that despite the tremendous damage absorbed by the front end, the passenger space maintained its integrity and looks completely intact.


01-18-2014, 01:55 PM
Wow! That is impressive. Is that windshield intact? It looks to have had a 5.0 V8 engine swap so it was probably well cared for.