The 1949-51 Mercury is the quintessential custom car. Thousands of them have gone under the knife in the last five decades, so it's a little surprising to discover how little aftermarket support there is for these beloved 'sleds. It's a particularly disheartening discovery if you happen to be building your own dream Merc.

The folks at Jamco Suspension have been doing their part to create new components for these cars, as well as similar-era Fords. Recently, the company got help from Randy Way at All Ways Hot Rods in Phoenix in developing a new power steering conversion to use in conjunction with the original Mercury suspension. Randy and his crew happened to be doing the R&D work on a customer's Merc, so I stopped down to document the process for the benefit of Custom Rodder readers. The conversion employs a strong power steering box from an Isuzu Rodeo. It's the same box found on many other Isuzu trucks and SUVs, and its small size leaves plenty of room for various engine swaps and exhaust routing using stock manifolds or headers. You supply the steering box-either from your local parts house, GM dealer, or salvage yard-and Jamco supplies the necessary brackets, instructions, and hardware. You send your Isuzu Pitman arm to Jamco so it can be modified to fit the Merc centerlink.

While the kit was designed for installation with or without the engine in place, the guys at All Ways recommend an empty engine bay to make things easier. One of the kit's many benefits is the ability to use the stock steering column location. No new holes need to be drilled in the floor, and you'll only need one steering joint to boot. The stock column-mounted shift linkage will need to be modified or eliminated if you maintain the original column, or this would be a natural time to add an aftermarket tilt unit.

From what I witnessed, installation of this kit is very straightforward, with comprehensive instructions and diagrams. If you have any doubts about your welding ability, though, it's definitely a good idea to have a qualified shop do at least that portion of the work for you.

After driving the test vehicle, I can say firsthand how well it works. Whereas many power steering setups are overly powered, leaving you with that "unattached" sensation, this system gives a natural road feel to the steering. Most of us have driven large vintage cars with no power steering and, well, we don't need to go there (Popeye arms)! Driving this Mercury was easier and much more enjoyable, leaving me free to work on that tough-guy sneer!

SOURCE
Jamco/J&M Enterprises All Ways Hot Rods