During the disassembly of the steering column from the Trans Am the retaining snap ring that holds the lock plate got damaged. One option is to bend it back into shape. The other option is to replace it. Unfortunately, you’re not going to find an auto parts store that knows what a continuous retaining snap-ring is, let alone have one in stock. Most snap rings today are either internal, external or have a specific shape for the application. This simple snap-ring used for the lock-plate is one of those “caught in limbo” fasteners that no one seems to stock.
Fabricate yourself one out of a spring!
The diameter of this retaining snap-ring is 3/4″ (0.75″) with 1/16″ (0.0625″) thick round steel. The gap at the end is approximately 3/32 to 1/8″ (0.09375″ to 0.125″).
Find a quality 3/4″ diameter spring with 0.062″ thick steel at to your favorite hardware or home improvement store. Then use either a saw, dremmel cutting wheel or wire cutters (if you’re really in a hurry) and cut one coil out of the spring. If your cutting wheel is 1/8″ thick, you can simply make a straight cut across multiple coils and you should have the exact ring with the gap you need as the result. Depending on the coil of your spring, you may need to bend it slightly to straighten it. A quick press in a vice between blocks of wood should do the trick.
The following solution should work for all Saginaw steering columns from the 60′s through the 90′s that are commonly found in GM and Chrysler cars and trucks.