Electric Power Steering on Classic Cars

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  • #426583

    Speaking with a neighbor recently who owns a 1936 Cadillac  V12 4 door convertible , we discussed driving these behemoths on long trips.  He said driving his car most anywhere had lost a lot of appeal due to the hard steering and his advancing age. We both agreed that power steering would be a boon if it didn’t require significant alterations to your classic car and could be relatively easy to remove if you wanted to return the car to original condition. Enter electric power steering. Notice : if all you do is load and unload your vehicle from a trailer , drive your car briefly around town , travel only to nearby meets or just go out to garage to take admiring looks of your classic, this topic will likely be of little interest.

    Electric power steering which I first heard of about 5 years ago seems to offer an opportunity for those of us with big prewar cars to make driving them fun again particularly at low speeds or when parking, Hagarty Classic Car Insurance ran an article on electric power steering back in 2018 which shed some light on the subject and indicated the application offered promise. Three companies were named ( can’t remember companies) who offer kits for classic cars. However, the nearest “classic “ I could find with electric power steering was a 1947 Packard.

    I raised the question about power steering here some years ago and got  a few  responses from folks who said their Pierces were a joy to drive and any power assistance wasn’t needed. Frankly, I skeptical about this ( I don’t own a Pierce Arrow yet) having driven several big classic cars that I thought resembled driving a tractor but were a lot bigger.

    Noting that postings here have dropped since the new format was implemented, maybe a little controversy will stimulate responses. Here’s hoping!

    #426585

    I have not researched as to how these could fit early big cars. But prices range from $650 (eBay) to $1200 more.

    Electric power steering for classics and hot rods

    It is amazing how we just ask Google? It surely simplifies! I edited my earlier post from “Where can I get one?” To posting an answer!

    Of course, we don’t need PS, but maybe our wives could get interested in driving early cars?

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Bill Marsh.
    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Bill Marsh.
    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Bill Marsh. Reason: Found my answer
    #426589

    Maybe some wives would like power steering but some of us wimps would like it too😁. I’m also a big fan of radial tires, electronic ignition, 12 volt batteries  and synthetic oil.

    Please post if anyone learns of a successful installation on a Pierce Arrow.

    #426592

    I believe a gentleman had one installed on a huge ’36 Packard V12 7 passenger, but don’t know the detail.

    My first worry is how absolutely fool proof and safe is the system. Can you realistically still steer and maintain control with any plausible system failure which includes simple override from electric failure to the more serious issue of a sudden uncommanded turn input.

    This is similar to the scenario of the 737 Max pitchdown issue, and in aircraft world one of the most difficult problems to deal with.

    I would want to understand the system better and see how this is addressed. Electronics have lots of gremlin potential. A friend of mine got rid of his modern car with steer by wire (all electric/electronic) steering because it gave him some brief uncommanded twitches on a 50 mph road.

    Jim

    #426606

    Our 6,000 lb. 1933 1247 Limo is hard to steer when going very slow or not moving and I’ve solved the issue over the last 20 years of driving it.

    It’s a 3 step process:

    1) If steering feels hard, accelerate briskly using a leadfoot aggressively. It steers quite easily at 70 mph!

    2) Drive around the block or parking lot until an easy In & Out space  can be found…or just go someplace else instead

    3) Keep brakes and horn in top working condition when speeding through parking areas

    PS – If you see me coming, it may be best to keep out of my way

    Happy Holidays to All!

    Dave

    #426609

    Tire Pressure!  Tire Pressure!  Tire Pressure!

    Doing arm curls with 60# dumbbells is also beneficial.  Getting my Pierce into a standard size garage, overfull with stuff, from a narrow city alley, doing the curls is mandatory!

    #426633

    Reading Dave’s post on parking lot helps, I can’t help but think of a famous Chicagoan that you probably never heard of, Commander Eugene F. McDonald.  His career affected our lives in several ways.  First of all, he was born in Syracuse, and went to work for Franklin Motor Co., and came to Chicago as their sales manager and was one of the first to introduce auto financing.  He became fascinated with radio, and soon started a firm called Chicago Radio Labs, later changed to Zenith Radio Corporation.  He pushed through both the portable shortwave radio as well as the first remote control television.  Remember that couch potatoes!

    Cmdr. McDonald was rather eccentric in some ways though.  He lived most of his life on his yacht, the Mizpah, which was harbored in Monroe Street Harbor in Chicago.  He was also quite friendly with some rather notorious Chicago organized crime figures.  When he wanted to go out on open waters in Lake Michigan, and smaller craft were blocking his route, he would go out on the prow of his ship, with the machine gun gifted to him by his mob friends, shooting up the sky with orders to the pilot to proceed at full speed.

    I think you would have to add a step plate on the front of your car to achieve this, tho.

    #426640

    I have a slightly different perspective on this topic, and it’s due to having worked in a restoration shop for a couple of years.

    If your car is very hard to steer, or drives like a truck or tractor (as mentioned above), then there’s a problem with your car, not with how they were built or that “all of them were like that when new”.

    The reason I mention the restoration shop is that in that shop, every single part of the car was rebuilt to new condition.  In the case of the steering, a LOT of people (and I’ve done it too) look at the components and say “Well, that’s good enough”. I drove some of the older cars restored at that shop, and it’s incredible how easy they are to steer IF EVERYTHING IS AS NEW.  I’d be willing to bet that fewer than 5 out of 100 restored cars have everything back to factory specifications on the steering components, and that includes the whole front end to do it correctly.

    A lot of these modifications are an attempt to take care of a problem, rather than fixing the problem in the first place.

    That’s my opinion.  David Coco Winchester Va.

     

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