Aside from its overall ugly duckling demeanor, so far our '72 Nova has seen its fair share of upgrades over the past year and we're on a mission to transform our Nova into a genuine performer. With most of the base suspension work completed, namely 2-inch drop spindles, a power disc setup up front, a multi-leaf rear lowering kit, and new Bilstein shocks and larger sway bars, we were still on the hunt to improve its turning prowess on a budget. Rather than step the suspension up another level with tubular arms and adjustable coilovers, we opted to take a more modest approach by focusing on the basics instead.
Even with all the latest goodies, we were still utilizing its original 37-year-old power steering box and pump to get the job done. Turning the steering wheel during spirited canyon runs or even around town required a lot of effort and getting the tires lock-to-lock took several hand-over-hand spins of the wheel. While cruising the freeway there was little to no feedback from the road and required a lot of input just to keep the car straight. What we needed was more response from the car without digging into the suspension.
Our rescuer came in the form of a Classic Performance Products (CPP) 14:1 quick-ratio steering box. Our CPP equipment came with all the necessary hardware and even a new rag joint for the steering box. We also opted for CPP's new factory replacement pump, which included rubber lines with adjustable ends that swivel, plus a new pulley. While the original pump seemed to be in working order, it strained and whined under the smallest amount of input from the steering wheel.
Helping us with this month's install is CPP's very own Craig Chaffers. Chaffers' years of experience and knowledge made this install a breeze. Not only will our new steering system run smoother and quieter, but the added feedback we can give will allow us to make more efficient use of the suspension underneath the chassis.
Pump: Old vs. New
CPP recommends replacing older pumps to protect the new steering box from being immediately contaminated. Years of wear will cause small bits of metal and plastic to collect in the reservoir and circulate every time the engine runs. CPP's pumps are 100% new and compatible with hydra boost systems, and feature a bolt-on key-way pulley, making pulley changes easy. The original bottle neck type reservoir can be adjusted closer to the block, offering additional space for other accessories and their belts. Also included are detailed instructions for an easy installation. Should you need a new pulley, those are available as well. There's no guesswork and you get a factory fit. We reused the original bracket by swapping it onto the new pump. Craig used a 9/16-inch wrench to fasten down the four bolts. New universal mounting brackets are also available.
Steering Box: old vs. new
With the old steering box out, it was obvious this new 14:1 box from CPP was going to get the job done by operating smoother and creating a tighter feel with improved road feedback. Although it has provisions for four bolts, only three are used here; CPP designed this box for many applications (the 4th hole used on Jeeps). The 500 series box for the Nova, Camaro, Chevelle, or fullsize car is truly the best of its kind. It's a simple bolt in upgrade for the factory power steering box and an easy way to convert from manual steering to power steering. Additionally, these will fit the factory power steering pitman arm and 3/4-30 rag joint.
What We Did
Installed CPP's quick-ratio 14:1 steering box and a new power steering pump with lines onto our '72 Nova
Quick-and-nimble steering will lead to better driver feedback and a better performing car.