While ’50s and ’60s Chevys were pretty good vehicles when they were factory fresh, today their shortcomings are painfully obvious. Take the steering for example. There were two choices back then. Manual steering, which had more turns lock-to-lock than the Queen Mary, provided little or no road feel, and would make anyone with the poor judgment to try parallel parking break into a sweat. Of course buyers could opt for power steering. That option still required lots of turns lock-to-lock, had even less road feel, and while it may have made parking marginally easier, the chances of the system springing a hydraulic leak were quite good.

Basically hydraulic power steering can be divided into two categories: linkage assist and integral. Both use hydraulic pressure from an engine-driven pump to reduce the effort to turn the steering wheel. Linkage assist uses a ram attached to the frame on one end and the centerlink on the other. A control valve on the end of the centerlink senses movement of the Pitman arm and directs fluid to the proper side of the ram’s piston to help move the steering linkage in the appropriate direction. Among the many disadvantages to this type of system are the number of hoses and the fact that the control valve operates in a dirty, gritty environment, which can cause premature wear and leakage.

A more sophisticated power steering design is the integral type. Inside the steering gear is a piston that acts upon the ball nut, which turns the sector shaft the Pitman arm is attached to. When turns are made the twisting force on the input shaft of the steering gear causes a rotary valve to open a passageway for pressurized fluid from the pump. Turning the steering wheel to the left allows pressure to push on the piston one way; turning the steering wheel to the right pushes the piston the opposite direction—either way the effort required to turn the steering wheel is reduced.

When GM’s Saginaw Division introduced the rotary valve integral power boxes in ’59 Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile cars it didn’t take long for the bean counters at Chevrolet to figure out how much more expense the new steering gear was going to add to the sticker price. As a result they stuck with the inferior linkage-style power steering through 1964 to keep costs down. But while Chevrolet didn’t see fit to use better steering in those days now there is an option for those who want to upgrade to a contemporary design. Borgeson has developed an integral power steering conversion for ’58-64 full-size Chevys.

Borgeson now offers remanufactured GM Delphi 600 integral power steering gearboxes with the latest technology for improved road feel and feedback with a quick 14:1 ratio. These boxes are modified so they attach directly to the factory mounting location and to fit the stock Pitman arm. Steering boxes are available separately or in a complete kit that provide the pump, pump bracket, power steering pulley, universal joint, intermediate shaft, and hoses.

Thanks to Borgeson, modern power steering is affordable and installation is a simple remove-and-replace operation. It’s a great way to make a ’58-64 Chevy as pleasing to drive as they are to look at.

Installation Tips from Borgeson

A new universal joint and steering shaft will be required for connection to the stock column. Cars with factory power steering will require a drag link adapter or a manual center link.

All ’58-64 Chevy cars with factory power steering will require PN 990007 drag link adapter to replace the control valve on the drag link.

Most ’58-64 manual steering cars will require the idler arm to be rotated to match the angle of the new steering box. This is easily accomplished by removing the lower bolt from the idler arm and rotating the assembly toward the front of the car to align with the Pitman arm. Drill a new hole for the lower bolt and re-install.