Steering Wheel Thoughts

As a Shelby driver, one of the most intimate 'tools' you have at your fingertips is the steering wheel. Considering the Shelby's controls, it's among the most likely devices that'll help you get wherever you're going. Although a Shelby steering wheel is certainly very tactile and direct, it's also one that can quickly get you into (or out of!) trouble.

So speaking of trouble, I became a bit worried about the steering wheel on #2060...the one that's been on the car for years. It's not the Shelby-stock steering wheel found on later '66s (which is the same wheel found on Mustangs, but with a G.T. 350 hub cover). This wheel is an over-the-counter steering wheel that could be purchased as a dress-up item from your favorite Ford-Shelby dealer. It resembles the early '65 wheel to a limited extent, yet it's a bit different. It's actually very elegant and unique, in my opinion. This same wheel was also used on '67 Shelbys, however there were little black (rubber, I think) coverlets where each spoke meets the wood rim. This wheel on #2060 to my knowledge never had them.

What has concerned me over the years driving the Shelby was the hub area seemed to have a bit too much movement...as though the three spokes were developing cracks, thus weakening the entire feel of the steering wheel.

Here's the horn button, with G.T. 350 'foil' emblem.

You can clearly see that the hub area has been futzed-with...

Upon further investigation, it appears as though someone over the years had been 'inside' the hub while attempting rather crude repairs, perhaps with Liquid Steel, or who knows what.

So rather than wait for a complete hub failure (which would also require a complete change of shorts!) and a real disaster, I changed to a more modern version of the Shelby steering wheel.

This new steering wheel is a little fatter at the rim and certainly very stout. I'm delighted with it and the way it feels in my hands. And, my worries went away.

So now, whaddaya do with the old, yet very nice G.T. 350 steering wheel? Well, it seemed to me that it would make a really nice display if I could somehow mount the old G.T. 350 steering wheel on a plaque.

I drew up a plan...

I then had to find some nice (and thick) wood to fashion a plaque, so I settled on a beautiful piece of walnut with exemplary grain. Aside from squaring the block, I also had to purchase a 3.5" hole drill to bore the hole for mounting the wheel. I also needed an appropriate router bit to create two keyhole slots in the back of the plaque to be used for hanging this setup securely.

Next, I also needed some sort of brass plate to commemorate the steering wheel...and what should the plate say? So here's what I came up with:

But there's a really cool twist! The font I used for the lettering on the brass plate is the very same font used by Shelby American for the "G.T. 350" lettering on the '66 side stripes (known technicallly as MicrogrammaDBoldExt)!

So, here's the finished plate, in brass...

Next, I went to work on the walnut, first cutting that 3½" hole. With a drill press, a new hole saw and drill it went like a hot knife through butter with a really clean cut. Next up was the router for the keyhole slots. Then the sanding...and the sanding...and the sanding in preparation for the varnish. Then, following each of four semi-gloss coats, and more sanding between coats to a very nice high-quality sheen.

A little positioning work...

Then, final assembly, and, wait for it...

Voilà!

And when I figure out where I'll hang the newly-minted plaque and wheel, I add a few more photos.

So, finally, here's the steering wheel mounted on a wall in the ShelbyGarage...

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