We’ve become spoiled by the availability of great aftermarket parts that make it possible to get into the groovy lines of a classic Chevy Nova while enjoying the benefits of late-model technology. It’s called “restomod” and it is becoming more mainstream all the time. Enthusiasts like the classic styling coupled with fun-to-drive technology, be it an LS V-8 or a simple one-day, bolt-on install.
The Chevrolet Nova had humble beginnings as an affordable compact automobile when it was introduced in 1962. Old-timers may remember the sitcom My Three Sons and the corresponding Chevrolet commercials. It was a great time to be alive. These Chevy IIs sold like hot cakes as a result because they offered big Chevy comfort in an affordable, easy-to-park compact. There was a Chevy II redesign in 1966-’67—surely handsome and loved by many. In 1968, Chevrolet came out of left field with a slippery aero Nova that was hugely successful well into the 1970s before the name began to slip away. We love the Nova along with all the things you can do with it.
Prior to 1968, the Chevy II/Nova had a shock tower front suspension system on a par with what Ford was doing with Falcon, Comet, and Mustang. It wasn’t much to write home about, offering the handling characteristics of a covered wagon. With the Camaro’s introduction in 1967 came a new, innovative subframe-conventional front suspension system that quickly found its way to the Chevy II/Nova line for 1968. And this is what we like about 1968-’72 Nova: great lines and a vastly improved suspension system.
We’re working with a 1969 Nova coupe on its way to becoming a fun-to-drive cruiser. The next phase of this Nova build is an ididit tilt steering column and a close-ratio 500 Series power steering box from Classic Performance Products (CPP) to weave comfort and control into Chevy’s enduring Nova. The steering column replacement is quick and easy. You can do it in an afternoon. When you add the CPP close-ratio power steering gear it takes up the better part of a day. Let’s get started.
1. The steering column removal involves unbolting the collapsible slide at the dashboard and disconnecting the electrics and rag joint. The steering wheel removal comes first. Did you remember to disconnect the negative cable at the battery?
2. Ididit wrote the book on retrofit tilt steering columns for the Chevrolet Chevelle, Camaro, and Nova, among many others. We’re not surprised by this latest innovation from ididit: a bolt-in, factory-style steering column that includes the locking ignition switch and all of the electrics.
3. This is the Classic Performance Products 500 Series power steering conversion kit (PN 69PSK) for the Chevy Camaro and Nova, which includes the steering gear (shown) along with the pump, hoses, Pitman arm, rag joint (coupling), and mounting hardware.
4. The ididit tilt wheel retrofit column is a direct bolt-in you can install in an afternoon. It arrives with an ididit-specific keyed ignition ready to go. For safety, it’s designed to be collapsible, a feature you’ll hopefully never need.
5. The steering column includes the turn signal switch and related installation hardware. Other features include four-way flashers and return to center turn signals.
6. The stock steering column is held to the dash by way of this mounting bracket.
7. The bracket was removed from the stock column and bolted to the new ididit tilt column.
8. Included is the ididit steering column relay adapter package (PN 500719).
9. This is the original Saginaw power steering box and hoses tied to the factory steering column. It was built for performance but had a slow, sluggish feel to it.
10. A Pitman arm removal tool is used to remove the factory Pitman arm. Two bolts secure the Saginaw power box to the Nova’s subframe. The CPP 500 Series box will be bolted to the subframe in the same location using factory boltholes and fasteners.
11. Time to put the vintage Saginaw power box out to pasture.
12. The new CPP 500 Series close-ratio power steering gear weighs less and takes up less space than the Saginaw box. With a ratio of 14.7:1, it will give the Nova a much better feel on the highway without being overly “twitchy.”
13. The ididit steering coupling—also known as the rag joint—is a fail-safe piece engineered to fit a variety of applications, including our Nova. The rag joint enables wiggle room when the column is installed and adjusted. Use a thread locker on the Allen screw (arrow) and set screw once tightened.
14. These are the original GM steering column-to-firewall flanges. You may use them or opt for the ididit pieces included in the kit. The choice is yours.
15. When you look at the ididit steering column-to-firewall flange, it begs the question why you would use the GM original. This is a nice stamping designed to bolt right in.
16. The ididit steering column glides right into place and is bolted at the original attachment points on the dashboard. The ididit steering column-to-firewall flange is secured. The connections are made via the relay kit provided.
17. The CPP 500 Series power steering gear is secure and tied to the ididit column. The beauty of this install is its complete demeanor. The column and steering gear are one and have dovetailed together nicely. It all fits and works perfectly.
18. Inside, the ididit column is stealthy in nature thanks to its factory appearance and perfect fit. Topping it off, and adding to the modern feel, is a leather half-wrap and billet steering wheel from Eddie Motorsports.
Photography by Steven Rupp