If you’re currently working on restoring a hot rod, custom, or street rod project then the Flaming River Touch Start RFID Keyless Dash Ignition System is a product that you will want to explore. When it comes to project builds, electronics, steering options, and more - Flaming River is constantly innovating new products to stay on the cutting-edge of performance, looks, and the ever important “cool-factor” that we all strive to achieve. In the hot-rod world, having products that not only stay ahead of the competition but also incorporate new technologies into older cars is critical, and with this product, they’ve done exactly that.
You may have noticed the same type of technology if you’ve bought a new car over the last few years – gone are the days of jamming a key into an ignition-switch that’s prone to breakage after a certain number of cycles. Newer vehicles use Radio Frequency Identification proximity technology to identify the vehicle’s driver by bouncing a signal to the keyfob. No longer do current vehicle owners need to fumble around with a key, as the technology has permitted push-button starting with a high level of security.
The team at Flaming River was ahead of the trend, and decided to produce a brand-new system to allow hot rod owners the same type of convenience and “wow” factor. But in true hot-rodder fashion, the company took it a few steps further by including the ability to use your keyless entry to activate a trunk release, door poppers, and many other styles of remote-controlled electric accessories in the process. A single keyfob can even be programmed to operate multiple vehicles.
In addition, the system has the ability to learn and recognize more than one keyfob (or a replacement should you lose yours), an emergency bypass mode to allow the vehicle to be started using a unique personal identification number (PIN #), and a security lockout feature that prevents the system from being activated if the keyfob is not within the pre-set proximity range.
What does all of this mean to you? The Programmable RFID Keyless Ignition System has safeguards in place to keep your hot rod yours, while still allowing the convenience of using modern technology in your old-school ride.
Another nice feature of the system is that it can be used in a stand-alone fashion, or integrated into any of Flaming River’s tilt steering columns which also come in a paintable, black powdercoat, or polished finish. We chose the stand-alone system for our install needs.
Getting Started – Install Time
Now, on to the install, which took place over at Image Street Rods, where Keith Vandermeulen and his team performed their magic on the 1949 Baby Lincoln (more to come on this killer build – stay tuned!) slated to receive the system.
We realize that when many people think about wiring up electrical components, the initial reaction is to tense up as if you’ve just received a punt and the entire punt team is bearing down on you. However, that deer in the headlights look is not necessary when dealing with this particular system.
In fact, Keith explained just how easy the install was, “This system was a super easy install from start to finish. It was only eight wires to get the entire system installed and start the car. Since I was just getting ready to wire the car to begin with, this was a simple install and I just incorporated it into the wiring I already had planned to do.”
We made sure to get all of the details directly from the pros at Image and Keith goes on to tell us, “Since this particular vehicle isn’t using the door poppers that come with the Flaming River kit, all we had to do was work on the six wires to the unit and the two wires to the brake switch. We wired the unit first in order to make it easier to see any installation issues – of which there were none. You will have to modify your dash and find a place to mount the start button unless you’re using one of Flaming River’s columns, but the button is small enough to hide just about anywhere.”
Flaming River definitely went the extra mile in R&D with this product, as they do with everything they produce, to ensure a minimum number of hassles for the end-user during installation. The unit comes with plug-and-play harnesses, meaning all you have to do is connect the non-terminated end of the wires to their final destination in the fuse panel and then plug the harnesses into the unit.
There are two power harnesses and one accessory harness, and each have been pre-terminated at the end that plugs into the unit. All that’s needed is power, ground, and a couple of other attendant connections that need to be made. Simple, right?
In speaking with Flaming River’s John Jennings, we were able to flesh out some of the additional details on the unit. “It’s an easy install, and one of the best features of the system is this – say you’ve got a guy that already has a keyless entry system on his car. This system is programmable so that the keyfob will be able to activate those other features.”
Jennings goes on to explain, “This will operate keyless entry or any other remote-operated options that he might already have. In addition, before you start the vehicle, you need to have pressure on the brake pedal – there is an interlock that gets wired into the brake pressure switch so all of the safety features are already built-in.”
But Flaming River didn’t just focus on the safety features and quality of the USA built product, they also thought through and included built-in failsafes. Jennings continues, “In case the keyfob battery goes dead, or you lose the keyfob somewhere, there is a unique PIN number that works with the bypass/programming button, and you just follow the sequence on the card that comes with the system in order to get the car started.”
It’s as simple as tapping the numbers in using the programming button and it will allow you to start the car in that instance overriding the keyfob and brake safety switch. Also, the system uses a computer chip in the keyfob that’s activated by the base unit, rather than any sort of antenna, so you don’t have to worry about keyfob batteries going dead.
Operation & Wrap Up
The ignition switch itself can be mounted either in the dashboard as we did, or directly into one of Flaming River’s steering columns, and its operation is as simple as the install itself. One push, which illuminates the built-in LED with a slow blink, turns on the vehicle’s accessories. The second push of the button activates the system and readies the vehicle for starting and is accompanied by a fast blink of the LED, while the third push starts the vehicle and illuminates the LED continuously. One more push and the car (and LED) turn off. It doesn’t get much more simple than that.
Another beautiful feature of the system is that it can be installed into just about any vehicle where provisions can be made for the small electronic box and attendant wiring to fit, even a Fox-Body Mustang or other relatively-late-model hotrod. The electronics’ random-code generator means that the dirtbag who’s been scoping your car from afar is going to have a pretty hard time trying to start it on his own.
Coming in at right under $600 and being 100% made in the good ‘ol US of A, makes this piece a great bargain for any street rod build, especially when you factor in the cool factor of “wowing” your buddies with your new push-button ignition. Best part is, anyone who can work a set of wire snips and soldering iron can install the complete system. How’s that for a win-win? Stay tuned for more on this Lincoln build-up and a final feature coming soon!