Datsun 1200 models for the USA used a Collapsible Steering Column to meet FMVSS standards, while most other countries got a rigid Steering Column. The column will collapse in an accident, thus helping to avoid striking the driver. The column absorbs forces from both the accident, and if the driver is not wearing a seat belt, to absorb much of the force of the driver hitting the steering wheel. Special care is needed when removing or installing a collapsible column, as a sharp blow (such as dropping it) can cause it to partially collapse.
Also note that the column is permanently attached to the gearbox so a conversion would involve swapping the entire gearbox/column assembly. The steering post clamps are also special, using aluminum sliding blocks. Be careful to torque the clamp bolts to no more than:
- clamp-to-column: 5.8 - 7.2 ft-lb
- clamp-to-pedal box: 10.8 - 13.0 ft-lb