In this installment of our Nova build saga, we finally say goodbye to the terribly loose steering setup for something much tighter. When we were driving the car with the factory power steering last year, the experience was typical of an old car; vague road feel and not very responsive. The early Novas were equipped with a box that took six turns to go lock-to-lock, so it was as if mechanically you were bound to drive like an old lady. Combine the unresponsive box with 50 years of wear and you have a car that can get scary, especially if you're trying to go fast with it.
Unlike other cars that have separate manual and power steering boxes, the early Novas were built and sold with one box. The difference between a Nova with power steering and one without was dependant on a power steering slave cylinder attached to the steering link. If someone wanted manual steering, you'd simply disconnect the slave and remove the pump.
Our 1963 came with a straight-six with power steering and in order to drop in our V8, we'd have to go to with a manual link or remove the ancient power steering slave. This was due to the oil pan design; the steering link traverses through a notch in the pan. The manual link was readily available from Classic Performance Products locally, so to keep things simple, we decided to go with full manual steering instead of adapting a steering rack. We suspect the steering box is lighter, too.
Although converting the car manual steering and dropping the V8 was an easy choice, driving on the street with a stock steering box that takes six turns to steer from end-to-end does, and did sound like a nightmare, so we began to look for steering box options.
Luckily, we found the perfect solution. Flaming River offers a complete kit (PN FR302KT) that includes a quicker ratio box, a cool little tilt steering column, and the u-joints needed to upgrade the 1962-65 Nova steering. The mini column comes either in black or polished with an aluminum mount and when combined with a new manual steering link and tie rods, makes for a complete way to change your steering from unresponsive and loose to quick and tight.
•Quick Ration steering box with 3-1/2 turns lock-to-lock
•Micro tilt column - 5 position with GM wiring (only 17-inch long)
•Eliminates long shaft steering column
•Bolt in Kit - No Welding