The old steering system on our ’68 Camaro was getting pretty tired and we were becoming less enthusiastic about its vintage handling characteristics. So we got to thinking that a power rack-and-pinion steering system would make a nice upgrade. Besides, we have plans to do some custom work on our frame and oiling system in the near future, so we could use the extra room that a rack system would leave in the engine compartment.
One call over to the folks over at Unisteer Performance Products and we were on our way to installing their ’67- '69 Camaro power rack-and-pinion kit. We’ve had positive experiences with their products in the past, and heard this system works well with the first-gen Camaro suspension. As a bonus, we liked the compact design of their kit.
This installation takes place on a modified ’68 Camaro equipped with a big-block engine. The car was already loaded with Hooker Competition Headers and a high-performance steering pump. The car also has no fenderwells and is armed with four-piston Baer brakes, so installation of this kit may be slightly different on your car, be it stock, or with some different modifications. Just keep in mind that the instructions that come with this kit covers the installation in a basically stock Camaro.
Also, take note that there’s a good chance you won’t encounter fitment issues with your big-block Camaro headers like we did with our Hooker Headers (PN 2457). We knew going into this rack-and-pinion upgrade that header modifications would be a necessity. Although we could have opted to purchase a new set of headers that would fit properly with the rack-and-pinion upgrade, we instead chose to bank the extra cash for future modifications. It’s also the reason we took our car to Pacific Fabrication in Morgan Hill, California. They have a great facility and their crew posses the skills to get the job done right.
With that being said, the modification was quite simple. By just cutting up one U-bend in the header we gained the proper clearance necessary to install the new rack system.
After all was said and done, the Unisteer rack-and-pinion kit looks attractive with great fit and finish (it comes in black or chrome). We didn’t put a bumpsteer gauge on it, but on the initial post-install drive, the steering felt firm and sturdy, and we enjoyed the added feel of safety and confidence when making sharp turns, especially going into a corner a little hot. The car was able to take the uneven road surfaces with grace, and there’s a ton of ground clearance. On top of that, it now takes only 2.5 turns, whereas our stock standard box took more than four turns of the steering wheel to get to the same place. And the rack-and-pinion feels much more responsive to input but not overly aggressive, twitchy, or overpowered.
All of us performance-minded individuals are constantly looking to shave a few pounds off our cars. This is especially true for us big-block Camaro owners. The stock steering box and all the steering linkage weigh in at 50 pounds. By installing the Unisteer rack-and-pinion kit and the steering shaft kit, we were able to shave off 20 pounds.
Even though the installation was pretty straight forward, you’ll want to read through the instructions before jumping in with both feet.