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1966 Nova Rack And Pinion Steering - Nice Rack!

Flaming River has a great set of bolt-ons for your '62-'67 Nova.

By Mike Harrington, Photography by Mike Harrington

Does it seem like we run a lot of suspension stories in Super Chevymagazine? It sure does, doesn't it? But there must be a reason for it,right? I was finishing the last few sentences of this article, wheneditorial duties took me to our New Jersey offices. Living in the LosAngeles area, I thought I was prepared for the onslaught of traffic, theNew York and New Jersey turnpikes, and toll roads. Not quite. I wasamazed at the circle-track style of driving in this part of the country,people zipping left, zipping right and applying major force to the brakepedal for a better pole position. This was quite the norm, and I thoughtto myself, "Damn, I'm glad I'm driving a rental and not my Camaro!"

But what if I was driving my prized possession, or what if you weredriving your prized possession and found yourself in this kind oftraffic climate? While many of us may not drive on these particularroads, we still drive our favorite cars, right? And driving the roads ofAnytown, USA can present its own challenges. Thirty-plus years ago thiswas not even an issue, as most cars on the road had the same lousybraking and suspension capabilities. As time marches on, even the lowestgrade production cars are equipped with better-handling suspension andbraking than our favorite '50s-'70s rides. Let's even the playing field,shall we? The mostly stock '66 Nova SS that is the parts recipiant inthis story is meant to be a driver, so let's make it that way.

When Flaming River informed us it had a new bolt-in rack-and-pinionsystem for the early Novas, we decided we'd see for ourselves just howthis set up would work. For the most part the install of the newsteering system went according to plan, but we did encounter some bumpsalong the way. Our test Nova already had a set of 2-inch drop spindlesinstalled (Flaming River recommended using stock height spindles), andwhen it came time to attach the tie rods to the drop spindles, the angleat which they bolted on could have created some bumpsteer issues.

Our second bump in the road was the exhaust clearance issue we faced.This Nova was still using the original center dump ram's horn-styleexhaust manifolds. After the installation of the rack-and-pinion, it wasobvious that the new steering shaft would not clear the old exhaustsystem. The solution? We called Flaming River, and they informed us thata set of later model, rear dump truck headers would work. They alsoinformed us that they were in the process of developing headers for thisparticular application. Now that we have discussed the snags, let's takea look at what comes with this kit.

The system replaces the early long-shaft steering box with a new tiltcolumn, according to Flaming River, and the kit includes the cradle,quick ratio manual rack-and-pinion, mounting clamp for rack withbushing, grade 8 fasteners for cradle installation, tilt column withmount, wiring connectors and chrome moly universal joints for improvedangle with the intermediate shaft. The true fixture-weldedmounting-cradle fits between the frame rails, and it bolts in placeusing the original chassis location. Some modifying is required, and thesystem installs with hand tools.

The price is the most attractive part of using the Flaming River set up.At $1,190, this will improve your '62-'67 Nova's handling at areasonable cost. Now, about that exhaust header clearance issue. At thewriting of this story, a set of exhaust headers was on its way fromFlaming River. When they arrive we'll give you the blow-by-blow of howwell they fit and how you can adapt the same system to your Nova shouldyou decide to go the same route.

By Mike Harrington
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