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Blnrivi

Installing a rack and pinion on a 64 Riviera

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I'm rebuilding my 64 Riviera and thinking about going with a rack & pinion.  Does any one know the best way to do that and what make a model can I use.

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I think you'll be disappointed with the results. What's your goal with the change? It has been my experience that cars with a rack-and-pinion conversion have terrible turning radii and a wonky steering feeling--too light, then too heavy, then too light again. It's hard to steer cleanly and to be precise. I think it has to do with the geometry of the tie rods. I have yet to drive one that feels as natural and works as well as simply rebuilding the stock system. Just because we have 50 years of technology on our side, that doesn't mean today's technology is better than what they were using in 1964. If you like the big Riv feel, keep the big Riv parts. Trust the factory engineers--they were smart guys.

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Concur.  While I would not assert that the factory steering system on the Riviera can or will behave like a contemporary systems, one might posit that most evaluations are made using a misleading baseline.  Specifically, one is often comparing a car with 50-year-old bushings and worn joints to a car with new components.   If you do a comprehensive renovation of your factory system (replace all rubber bushings (including rear control arms and track bar) and loose/worn ball joints, tie rod ends, etc. as needed), you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.  It won't be the same as a modern sports sedan, but it will be much better than it was, and likely better than a rack-and-pinion conversion.

 

There are some non-invasive changes that you can make that may further enhance your steering and handling: stiffer springs, stiffer shocks, heavier sway bar, and a steering box with a quicker ratio.

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A rack and pinion steering removes all slop that is usually the result of a drag link as the components move through the steering arc. There's less to play with, too, i.e. the leveling of the steering rack and placement versus pitman arm and idler arm adjustments and playing with the drag link tension, and then of course working with a 50 year old gear box that can be rebuilt, but with worn parts usually. 

 

The most important factors are the elevation of the steering rack in regards to the steering knuckles and the steering knuckle geometry itself. The first one is pretty easy but the if the steering knuckles are not changed, then you get symptoms of understeer or over steer or binding issues and the like. 

 

I personally do not like drag link steering. I have been jaded by my 2002 Jeep's rack and pinion steering. This conversion is not a matter of bolt in new parts, but rather a complete redesign that requires lots of research and a good understanding of how your front suspension works. 

 

If you're serious, I would measure how far apart your two front backing plates are and then try and find a modern car with similar wheel spacing to compare geometry to. 

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