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Has anyone fitted electric power steering to old car?


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I've  been thinking about adapting a column mount electric power steering unit to a 1962 Chevy Bel Air. The person who will be driving this car can't handle the manual steering and has declined to even try. So it's going up for sale if we are unable to get it remedied, which I don't want to happen. Anyone done this yet?

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  • 4 months later...

Has anyone done this to a 6v system though? It appears to be geared toward 12V and if not converting a pre-war car to 12V what might be required? Always love it when someone states it is an easy task, requiring less than a day to incorporate an upgrade. 

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It's actually remarkably easy to add power steering to many GM cars. Unlike the Fords with their slave cylinder setup, '60s and later GM cars used the Saginaw pump and steering box, all of which just bolts on in place of what's already there. Easy.

 

For earlier cars, the slave cylinder setup is also relatively easy to adapt although it can be a little more complicated to mount the cylinder and brackets correctly so that it doesn't bind. It's not just a no-brainer bolt-on. I know of at least one 1947 Cadillac running around with a slave cylinder setup and a Saginaw pump on the engine, and it's still 6V (no need to change voltage with a hydraulic system). Pretty tidy installation that's almost invisible unless you look deep into the engine bay or underneath the front end.

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I'd go with the hydraulic power steering.  I had a 1961 Impala without power steering.  I found a complete power steering set up from a 1962 Chevy at Hershey.  I had a mechanic install the system on the car (with new hoses) and it worked fine.  The holes for the installation were already drilled at the factory.

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I found this 5 minute video on YouTube of a guy trying to install an aftermarket power steering unit on a '63 Chevy and he's having a lot of problems. Some of you guys make it sound very easy but I think he would beg to differ. What exactly is causing the problems for him?

 

 

 

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I wonder what would happen if he were to put this car on its suspension.

Also as discussed earlier, why a kit when all these parts are available used. Or even rebuilt oem.

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It comes down to engineering.

When originally designed, the automaker wanted to sell options. Options are big profit makers for both the manufacture and the dealer. In the early 1960s power steering was not universally desired (so not 100% of the cars were built that way) but a customer might want it installed after the purchase. (Except for maybe a radio upgrade or wheels, I dont think there are many dealer options anymore) To make the installation quick and easy AND PROFITABLE the manufacture built all the frames with all the holes in all the right places to bolt the accessories into place. Quick and easy for a quick profitable sale.

 

Note: On some cars there are even dimples and cutouts in sheet metal (like firewalls) that were placed there to make adding something as complex as air conditioning easier. If you didnt look for them you would never notice them. 

 

The original poster wanted to add P/S to a car for the sole purpose of make it easier to drive. This original question has changed to discuss aftermarket kits and electric systems. This involves re-engineering the car. Of course it is going to be difficult. You are swimming up stream. You are trying to make something fit where it was not designed to fit. Guaranteed, the job is gong to be fraught with problems. 

 

In the car hobby there are people who really enjoy adapting, modifying and re-engineering. For them, modification is a display of their talents in adaptations and metal working skills. Hey, if somebody wants to fit a 4 cylinder Japanese diesel with a manual shift into a 1963 Cadillac, then more power to them. When finished it will be quite an accomplishment. For these people the enjoyment seems to be more about the build and the process, than driving the finished car afterwards. 

 

But if you just want a car that WORKS. If you want something to just drive and enjoy and operates reliability, it is ALWAYS easier to work on it the way the manufacture originally designed it.

Because that is the way it was supposed to be. . . . . 

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As was pointed out to me, having the right size tire on the car does wonders.  I can turn my 49 buick easily with one hand without power steering. My 50 Chrysler with wide modern radials is like docking the Queen Mary into the wind.

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On 6/11/2020 at 9:00 PM, Brooklyn Beer said:

As was pointed out to me, having the right size tire on the car does wonders.  I can turn my 49 buick easily with one hand without power steering. My 50 Chrysler with wide modern radials is like docking the Queen Mary into the wind.

Yes tires and proper inflation makes a lot of difference. I ended up letting a friend buy the car I was going to convert it on as he thought it was nicer than I did.

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