It's no secret that early A-body muscle had steering similar to submarine hatch door. No matter how much you turned that giant wheel the front end never seemed to come around. Most of the early GM vehicles came equipped with steering boxes in the range of 20:1, great for grandmas with no forearm strength, but lousy for canyon junkies trying to carve the corners.
With the growing popularity of the g-machine, manufacturers have been creating aftermarket solutions to slopping handling and loose front ends. While most enthusiasts don't consider changing steering ratios to compliment their new suspension and smaller sport steering wheels, they also wonder why they don't feel the performance they were promised by their suspension supplier. The answer is simple, trick suspension doesn't cut it with out the ability to move the front wheels efficiently. When going through a series of corners the ability to negotiate turns with out crossing hands over the wheel is invaluable. Any apex animal will tell you that three and nine is where you've got to keep your hands when driving aggressively.
After slaloming our '64 Chevelle, the Ultimate Tanning Machine, we realized that although the numbers through the cones were great, it was a lot of work to get there. Even on the street we had to make serious wheel movements to keep the '64 in one lane on the interstate.
The answer to our problem called us on the phone no more than 1 week after slalom day. Karl Larsen, of Larsen Engineering has been building A-body steering boxes for almost a decade. His first conversion was for a '65 GTO that he himself owned. After installing the 13:1/16:1 variable ratio box in his Goat he realized the potential of his product. Between ten and two o'clock the ratio is a comfortable 16:1 ratio. As more steering is applied the ratio changes to 13:1 for more extreme turn in during high performance driving, or the occasional U-turn.
The key to Larsen's box is the use of Third-Gen Camaro gears being modified to fit the OE A-body housing. How he does it is a trick of the trade, but believe us it's a cool deal. While we had the steering torn apart we also decided to remove the steering shaft and have Jeff Price Automotive replace the lower column busing, turn signal cam and steering wheel. Check it out!