The Cletus-Vette: Now with manual steering

Photo by Stanislav Nachev

Every single part of the bodged power-steering setup on my 1970 Corvette leaked. I could have replaced all the parts but I chose to spend an evening removing the power steering and converting my car to a fully manual rack. And here’s why.

Reason #1 is cost. Every single part of the system on my car was failing. The pump leaked, the hoses leaked, the ram leaked, and the actuator had bad valves in it. Replacing all this with new parts would be over $600 and that’s $600 I could spend on other things for this car.


The next reason is weight! Despite would some people think, the Corvette is a porky bugger in 1970 sports-car terms. My small-block manual-transmission coupe was the lightest version available and it still weighs in at about 3,200 pounds. For reference, a 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 weighs about 2,800 and Alex’s Datsun weighs about 2,100 pounds. Removing the system saved me 20-30 pounds of weight right off the nose of the car.

It also nets me more power! Those old GM power steering pumps take about 4-horsepower to turn and those losses are especially pronounced at high RPM where I spend a lot of my driving.

Downsides? Well it’s now a total bitch to park and any low-speed turn requires plenty of effort. But the steering is tighter and more direct than it’s ever been and the car is marginally lighter too! I’ll find out next season if I hate it but for now, I’m staying with a fully manual set up.

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