Whether stock or wildly modified, well-tuned steering is a must for upgrading any muscle c
When looking for guaranteed ways to transform the handling and driving characteristics of a muscle car, most rodders go straight for suspension upgrades. While that's not an incorrect plan of attack, the issue is that far too many will stop there and forgo the upgrades to the one system that most completely transforms the feel of a car: the steering.
Fundamentally speaking, steering is the result of transforming rotational input from the steering wheel into lateral motion through the use of a recirculating ball-type steering gearbox (an evolution of the earlier worm and sector design) or a rack-and-pinion. In other words, it's the one input that determines how quickly and how precisely your car reacts. After all, what good is a state-of-the-art suspension if the sloppy steering has the responsiveness of a school bus?
There have been a great deal of advances in technology and better implementation of the fundamental components of steering design since the muscle car glory days. From the factory, steering is typically adjusted for the lowest common driver, so to speak, and that was even more the case in the past when suspension and tire technology were more primitive. Making a car steer like a barge kept people out of trouble. Nowadays, suspension and tire technology, combined with vastly improved steering systems, have advanced vehicle dynamics to the point that today even the cheapest commuter box can typically out-handle the best tuned muscle cars in a stock-versus-stock comparison. Sad, but true. However, don't despair; there are plenty of companies crunching the numbers and working to bring 21st century handling to 20th century hot rods.
There are quite a few advanced steering conversions out there that require entire suspension swaps to perform, but we know few people want to re-invent their front suspension just to update the steering, so we only took a look at kits and upgrades that can bolt into an otherwise stock muscle car with little to no modification. You'd be surprised how difficult that can be to design since so many things need to be considered.
At a glance, steering is a deceptively simple looking system, but the real trick of geometry is getting all of the ratios present in the individual parts of the system to coordinate and create that familiar reassuring feeling of control. So what exactly are these guiding principles that aftermarket manufacturers have to keep in mind when designing upgrades to increase steering performance? Trust us, steering theory gets thick with advanced geometry and physics quickly, and complicated equations abound, but the good news is that you don't have to be a mathematics protégé, engineer, or race car chassis designer to have a strong grasp of some of the basic concepts and how they apply toward making your car perform better.