The right steering wheel can make or break your hot rod’s interior and not just from an aesthetic standpoint. Sure, a cool-looking one will bolster your cockpit’s appearance, but the wheel also contributes greatly to both steering feel and driveability.
Take the two cars in this story as an example. The original wheel in the ’72 Nova SS was not only cracked in numerous places, but it was about as exciting to look at as a cardboard box. While its spokes are at the proper 9-and-3 position, the rim is too thin to provide any meaningful feedback to the driver.
The wheel in the fifth-gen Camaro is a whole ’nother story. It is a near replica of the one found in the concept car and is too fat in all the wrong places and actually masks feedback from the suspension. It makes the steering feel heavier than it actually is and adds numbness (which is precisely why the ’12 model gets a new and improved tiller).
For years, Grant has offered great looking and aesthetically pleasing steering wheels. With attention toward premium quality, form, and function, Grant produces various classic, vintage, modern, and airbag-type steering wheels to satisfy most anyone’s taste. Grant has been one of the leading manufacturers of custom steering wheels since the ’60s. Also, it is a Tier 2 automotive original equipment manufacturer and an original equipment supplier to the marine industry. Good credentials, right?
The original steering wheel in our ’72 Nova SS project was a serious eyesore in need of dire replacement. It didn’t complement the ididit tilt steering column we installed (Super Chevy, Feb. and Apr. ’11). We decided a Grant 14.5-inch Classic GM three-spoke, three-bolt steering wheel would add just the right touch of class and functionality to the interior of the X-body. It appears nearly identical to the optional three-spoke wheel seen in many of the late ’60s/early ’70s GM muscle cars. The rim of the Grant Classic GM wheel is roughly 1/2 inch thicker to provide a better grip and driving comfort for when we get behind the wheel.
A word of caution: While the trend in steering wheels for vintage muscle cars is always to go smaller in diameter, the often unwanted side effect is that it can quicken the steering far too much, especially if you’ve added rack-and-pinion steering, as was the case with our Nova. The 14.5-inch diameter was much to our liking.
As for the fifth-gen, we wanted to try out Grant’s new “Revolution” airbag steering wheel, so we enlisted the Tune Time Performance ’10 Camaro SS, which has gone as quick as 10.56 at 135 mph with its stock torque converter and 3.25 rear gears. Matt Hauffe (Tune Time and the Camaro’s owner) was anxious to equip his car with the beautiful Grant wheel in the two-tone silver and black (there are three color options) to match his Camaro’s exterior color scheme. It’s a great addition to the interior.
The two featured Grant wheels were simple to install by just following the instructions. The classic GM three-spoke was your author’s first aftermarket wheel swap. It took about 90 minutes while stopping to take pictures. After seeing the Revolution airbag wheel professionally installed at Tune Time in 20 minutes, we feel it’s also an easy task for the DIYer. Follow along to see how easy it is to have a better looking and feeling steering wheel inside of your ride—old or new school!