New answers tagged identification
Those would be Waffle Bottoms, which seem to have been mostly phased out by 1969, except for the 4x8 plate that went until 1971. Having not read any deep history on old LEGO designs, I'm going with that was just what they went with to start, then realized that the tubes were much better.
Sure looks like one of these: Technic, Steering Gear with 4 Ball Joints, Complete Assembly with Black Base It comes in a handful of sets
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