Have you ever tried parking a car without power steering or with an older style gearbox? If you have, you know that a modern dual combination is golden in comparison to the manual setup. Believe it or not, the first power steering system on an automobile was apparently installed over a century ago by a man with the last name of Fitts. While not much is known about him, we do know that today we wouldn’t dare own a car that lacked his innovation of power steering.
Power steering was furthered by a man named Francis W. Davis, who served as an engineer with the truck division of Pierce Arrow. In 1926, Davis invented and demonstrated the first practical power steering system, and felt that automakers would jump to add them into their production. Instead, he became disappointed after a move to General Motors to refine the hydraulic-assisted power steering system, only to have the automaker calculate that it would be too expensive to produce. Davis then signed up with Bendix, a parts manufacturer for automakers. Military needs during World War II for easier steering on heavy vehicles boosted the need for power assistance on armored cars and tank-recovery vehicles for the British and American army’s.
Finally, twenty five years after Davis’ initial concept of power steering was born, Chrysler Corporation introduced the world’s first commercially available passenger car power steering system on the 1951 Chrysler Imperial under the name “Hydraguide.” The Chrysler system was based on some of Davis’ expired patents. General Motors followed suit in 1952, producing a Cadillac with a power steering system that relied on the work Davis had done for the company nearly two decades prior.
Thanks to the work of pioneers like Davis, we have power steering today. As soon as they were able to add power steering to older vehicles, companies like Performance On Line stepped up to provide us with these new components for classic cars. POL has been around for years and has grown from a mail order company into a retail shop. When we stopped off at the POL they recommended the following Power Steering Conversion Kit, 19428, which is a complete setup to help get our non-power steering rides turning smoothly into the new century. Now follow along, as we take on the task of adding power steering to a classic 1965 Impala.
1. We stopped off at Performance On Line and picked up everything we needed to add power steering into our 1965 Impala classic.
2. This small-block 350 was ready to receive power steering.
3. We started off by installing this new gearbox from POL, which was set up for power steering lines. Other benefits included being able to turn the wheels from one end to the other in 3/12 turns over the stock manuel steering that would have taken one extra turn.
4. The new gearbox bolted right up to the stock frame holes.
5. We wanted to get a visual on what we were going to do, so we took the chrome power steering pump and held it in place.
6. As soon as we saw that these brackets were going to work, we prepared them for paint.
7. After shooting etch primer on the brackets, we followed up with some high-heat engine black paint. This step shows us how paint dries; once it dries, we can move onto the next step.
8. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss any visible spots so we assembled the bracket and touched it up to assure that the brackets were fully coated.
9. The brackets were bolted onto the pump, which will make things easier when it is time for assembly.
10. Trying to add this hose to the power steering pump once it is bolted onto the engine can seem impossible. Doing it outside like we are doing here only took seconds.
11. The return hose was trimmed to size and slipped onto the reservoir.
12. These lines were installed onto the gearbox and tightened.
13. The bottom brackets were tightened by hand to allow us to bolt up the bracket from the water pump.
14. Once the top bracket was tightened down, we added some torque and clamped down the pump to the engine block.
15. The last two things we needed to add were power steering fluid and the installation for a pulley belt. We added this complete kit from Performance On Line in a couple of hours, modernizing our car for finger tip steering.