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why did car maker,start putting ignition on steering wheel.

To make locking the steering column easy as a theft deterrent.

It also made accessing the ignition switch, which is usually NOT part of the column lock but remotely located lower on the column much more difficult…

This change was completely ineffective as auto-thefts went up after this change, not down…

If you want to deviate from the norm check-out where SAAB 900’s put the ignition (in the center console). The latter Chevy Malibu’s had the ignition on the dash but this did complicate the connection to the brake-transmission lock switch. GM decided to add a cable to the very end of the ignition switch/lock cylinder group. The problem came with all the lock cylinder/ignition switch failures that had to be drilled out and the cable would not let you do this activity on the bench. I wish I had those “topic of the month” magazines GM made for mechanics, they contained a wealth of information. Who keeps this kind of stuff forever anyway?

I find it interesting that the Ford at least as far back as 1940 through the 1946 model had the ignition switch on the steering column. Turning the key locked the column and locked a toggle switch in the “off” position. When the key was turned the opposite direction, the steering column was unlocked and the toggle switch could be switched to the “on” position. The engine could then be started.

The 1949 Nash had the ignition switch on the column just below the steering wheel, but I don’t think it locked the steering wheel as the Ford did.

“If you want to deviate from the norm check-out where SAAB 900’s put the ignition (in the center console).”

Yeah, but this was a “better idea” that turned out to be…not so good in many cases.
The horizontal placement of the ignition switch led to dirt and grit getting into the lock cylinder over a period of a few years, and that was problematic enough. But, when a car owner spilled a can of Coke or other sugary soft drink in that area, it effectively led to replacement of the lock cylinder.

Is it any wonder that other manufacturers did not follow Saab’s lead in this area?