Teaching an old dog new tricks has been the credo for upgrading our Project Rover 1968 Camaro. Much of our work has included upgrading various components to reap the benefits of new technology compared to “old-school” hardware on the car. However, even something as standard as the steering column is not being ignored.
As we were analyzing our current steering hardware during disassembly of our dashboard area, we noticed the bearings and steering shaft within our factory original steering column were extremely worn and “clunky.” It was at that point we realized this specific component was all of 50-years old and was showing its age.
Combining the worn assembly with the need for precise steering in a racing application, it was time to shop for an improved steering column. What we discovered is something new from Ididit Performance that not only upgrades our column’s function, but integrates additional features for safety.
Ididit has built a reputation for creating quality steering columns and components for street rod and custom car applications. The company has recently stepped into the performance and racing markets with its new line of Pro-Lite and Pro-Fab columns.
With our desire to retain our factory Camaro firewall and related steering mounts, the Ididit Performance Pro-Lite steering columns fit the bill for a bolt-in replacement application. Additionally, its new design is engineered with a collapsible steering shaft section within the lower column housing.
In the event of a frontal impact, the Pro-Lite steering column is designed to collapse a full 5-inches. This can prevent the steering assembly from pushing the steering shaft into the driver and causing injury.
“The collapsing feature is combined with our own bearing assemblies as a fresh performance design,” Eddie Mohr, Senior Sales Representative at Ididit, Inc., says. “It’s not just a stock replacement, but far better. We engineer and machine all of our columns and individual components in-house.”
The column utilizes shear pins and a unique shaft within a shaft design that will collapse up to five-inches during a high frontal impact. – Eddie Mohr, Ididit
When unboxing our new Pro-Lite column, we nearly threw it to the ceiling because it was so lightweight compared to the OEM unit just removed. We set up our scales which showed the Ididit column weighing in at just a click under 6-pounds. Our old factory column was more than double the weight of our replacement at almost 13-pounds. With many racers still using a factory column-shifter style assembly in the vintage body shell, this retrofit can result in even greater weight savings.
“We have retained many of the comforts of your OEM steering column,” adds Mohr. “For many street/strip or even full-on racecars still wanting to utilize lights, self-canceling turn signals, horn wiring and such, the Pro-Lite column contains all of the durable signal switch, wiring, and OEM-style wiring harness connectors found in our other product lines.”
Not just for the 1967-69 Camaro, the Pro-Lite performance columns are available for the 1962-66 Nova, 1965-66 Mustang, and also the 1970-81 Camaro. Our unit features a sharp black Microtex finish, which is a textured black coating. They are also available with an alternative brushed aluminum finish.
Installation was very straightforward. The Camaro uses a 4-bolt housing assembly approximately the mid-length of the column case. This mount mates up within the brake pedal structure under our factory dash area. Threaded mounting pads emulate this mounting area while also being combined with a high-quality roller bearing assembly at the firewall.
Also supplied by Ididit is a universal firewall bearing and mounting plate. This plate was custom cut-to-shape to match our three firewall bolt holes to the steering shaft, which now features this roller bearing support just prior to our steering box.
With the column aligned with the overall length and angles similar to our OEM column, the only special provision is the connection to the Camaro factory steering box. The old column used part of the OE-style rag joint built into the end of the column.
You will need to obtain a special rag joint that marries the steering box to a 1-inch diameter, 48-spline shaft at the bottom of the new Pro-Lite column. As an option, many racers will opt for a steel universal joint in lieu of a rag joint.
The splined steering wheel connection at the top side of the Ididit column shaft is an identical match to the standard GM 36-spline mount that has been used on all General Motors passenger cars from 1969 to 1994.
In addition to the columns, Ididit Inc has also developed a new quick-disconnect steering wheel hub for performance and racing applications. Just like the new Pro-Lite columns, Ididit freshly engineered this new quick release hub with a unique centering pin designed into the mating spline design between the steering shaft adapter and the hub.
“The locating pin allows our Ididit SFI-certified hub to be precisely engaged in the same position every time,” Mohr explains. “The pin is removable for drivers who prefer to move the clocking of their steering wheel.”
Our previous adapter was extremely small in diameter, which left the column internals exposed at the top. This new design matches the outer diameter of most OEM and Pro-Lite columns, resulting in a smooth look while also hiding the column internals to the eye.
Just like the precision of the steering column assemblies, the quick-release steering hub uses precise splines created with tight machining tolerances between the adapter and hub for quick and non-binding release and attachment of your wheel with the column.
With the hub constructed primarily of anodized aluminum, very little weight is added to our lightweight column assembly. The units are available for 5- and 6-lug wheel mount configurations and feature optional quick-pin release designs.
The most newsworthy note to our column install is the straightforwardness of the process. It is no more complex than removing and installing a replacement column. All the bolt provisions and other hookups were extremely easy to wrench together.
After 50-years, our old, heavy column is now resting in retirement and its new lighter and specifically performance-designed offspring will make control of our racing Camaro a much smoother application.