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Change to Rack & Pinion Steering?


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Has anyone changed their original steering system to a rack/pinion system?

If so, what make of R/P did you select? Or, does anyone know what model cars that have good R/P steering systems that would transfer to the Avanti setup fairly easily?

I have a very used 84 Avanti that has the original and worn out steering system. I want to replace the original system with something more updated. I have never done a complete system type change to another steering type so I am not sure what dimensions are necessary. What little I do know about the Avanti steering is that it is a TRW gearbox with TRW 34DC26 on the casting and 253AS032 060-84 on an aluminum tab bolted to the casting. I also read on a Studebaker website that, “Closing in on 1983, it was evident that a chassis renovation was required to continue production. The choice of the renaissance, was the GM Monte Carlo/El Camino chassis.†- http://www.studebaker-info.org/avantiRQBverc.html

This being the case, I assume a GM setup that would fit a Monte Carlo might work but I don’t know. I was looking at the AGR 284352-AGR Super Box 2 on Summit Racing but I dont know if it will work. I don’t trust the steering system that is in the car right now. The steering seems to be extremely loose (I dont know how else to describe it), the wheels would get stuck at extreme turning points, and the gear ration seemed to be high - possibly 18 or 20:1. The ratio may just seem that way due to the condition. I am building a high performance 350 with a new Monster 700R4 transmission and a good posi differential to go into the Dana 44 so... I am going to need a good, trustworthy steering system.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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An '84 Avanti is still the old Studebaker frame so the GM setup would likely not work. When they used the GM Monte Carlo setup, it was the entire GM chassis and the Avanti body was modified to fit it. You need a setup from another center steering type vehicle. I have not seen one myself but have been told Mustang II or Chevy Citation setups might be adaptable. Again...I have no personal knowledge whether that information is correct, but I would imagine a lot of engineering time and fabricating would be required to properly and safely install this regardless of what vehicle they originated from.

I have heard stories of such a swap being dangerous as the bump steer was almost uncontrollable. This may well be urban myth...as I said I have no personal knowledge of any such conversion. Just because I hear such and someone else said someone told them doesn't make it true.

I would suggest simply rebuilding the steering you have...the parts are readily available, the shop manual is available, it's already fully engineered with no conversion necessary. You could add the quick steering arms that are available...they do help some but not a whole lot.

The Avanti chassis is not and never was a racing or high performance chassis. It's basically a 1953 design and there's only so much someone can do with it. To do so would require a lot of time and money...probably more than reasonable. You can do things around the edges to improve things but that's about all that's reasonable...to me at least. I would suspect trying a conversion would lead to throwing things against the wall and being partway in the process and just sitting there with a case of beer and calling it a day.

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Thanks for your reply GS and your pessimism is probably what I needed to hear since I don’t wan t this car to sit in the driveway too long waiting on this.

IRT Stude Chassis vs Monte Carlo Chassis: What you stated makes a lot of sense. Looking back at the quote that I referenced, It looks like I misunderstood the decision to move to the Monte Carlo chassis rather than the actual chassis change, which I understand happened a few years later. That quote didnt jive with the thinner frame that I was working on.

IRT Bump Steer: There may be some vality to this issue. At this link, this guy put a "center steer" rack & pinion system on an Avanti from a '83 Sunbird and he experienced some bump steer issues as well but seemed to work them out. This may be the closest I can get to installing an updated R/P system in the Avanti but it seemed he went through a lot of trial and error. I dont mind playing (engineering) a new system but I really dont want my car to sit that long.


IRT rebuilding the current steering system: This may be the most prudent route to take. Do you have links, contacts or references to the "shop manual," parts, or quick steering arms?

Assuming rebuilding the current system is the way to go, has anyone out there rebuilt or replaced the TRW gearbox? I always associated TRW gearboxes with truck steering systems. I expected a Saginaw gear setup. I know Saginaw can be rebuilt and converted to 12:1 gearing but I dont know about the TRW. Has anyone replaced a TRW with another gearbox, if so... what?

thanks again,

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Reprints of the shop manual are available from Studebaker International, as is the parts manual. Both should be considered essential and mandatory for owners of '63-'85 Avanti's. They are worth their weight in precious metals and aren't very expensive. They can supply every part you need for rebuilding your suspension, including the quick steering arms. If you're rebuilding the suspension anyway, you're already removing the stock steering arms so you may as well replace them with the new ones. To be candid, the quick steering arms don't provide a huge improvement but do reduce steering time somewhat.

I believe the car has Ross steering, not Saginaw. Studebaker was not the only automaker that used Ross gears so maybe some other make might fit or be adaptable. Hopefully someone with greater knowledge on that can provide such information. Your steering box and hydraulic steering ram can be rebuilt...I had mine done by Jon Myers. Turnaround time was fast and the quality of work is excellent.

Give Studebaker International, Jon Myers and Nostalgic Motors a call and see what kind of overall deal you can get from each for a parts package and whatever rebuilding work they can provide. There are other vendors who can do rebuilding as well and should be listed on Bob Johnstone's website. Those three are the vendors I used most when rebuilding my '70...all are first class people and you won't go wrong with any. Don't dispose of any of your old parts being replaced as many you'll pay a core cost and need to send them to wherever you get the replacement parts from. These parts need to go back into the "food chain" after being remanufactured so other Studebaker and Avanti owners can use them down the road.

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