One of the things that really grabbed our attention the first time we saw Tom Pagano's Hemi-powered '27 T roadster pickup was the wild steering setup on the car. Instead of rising from the floorboard at a 45-degree angle, the steering column stuck out of the dash almost horizontally, like on a new car. And in the engine compartment the steering shaft came out of the firewall about 18 inches lower than where it went in. As it turns out, the upper column is connected to the lower shaft by a series of sprockets and chains.
The part was not purchased from some aftermarket catalog, but was a prototype piece developed by Pagano's friend, car builder Dave O'Connor. Dave came up with the idea while trying to figure out how to gain a little leg room inside the cramped quarters of his chopped and channeled Model A Tudor. He knew the answer lay in getting the steering column out from between his feet, and his solution was simple but imaginative. He filled a machined aluminum case with quarter-inch shafts, sprockets, industrial roller chain, sealed bearings, and UHMW nylon glides acting as tensioners.
"The second I finished the prototype, I knew my life was going to change," Dave tells us. He now has a patent pending on his offset steering coupler, officially introduced at the '05 SEMA show, and hopes to have product available for customers by the time you read this story. We're eager to see how it catches on. In addition to the prototypes he built for his own sedan and Tom Pagano's roadster pickup, Dave created another coupler for a '46 Ford sedan, owned by Ron Kummerle. Tom photographed the progress of the conversion and passed the photos on to us. It's a pretty simple job, but the end results offer a whole bunch of benefits.