Bob's Resource Website (2007)

(Rack and Pinion Steering on a 53 Commander)

Here is some info on the changeout to Rack and Pinion steering on my '53 Studebaker.

The original idea came from Sonny Hester in NM. If anybody wants more detail, His email is

The R&P I used is from a 91 Pontiac LeMans. The mounts I fabricated, attach to the frame rails using (4) bolts. I shortened stock steering arms 2 inches and reduced the drop from 2" to 1". Operation is wonderful, no bump-steer or any other abnormalities.

Here are some responses to questions I have been asked.

Question: What steering pump was used?
Response:I used a saginaw pump, no pressure drop required.

Question: How is the turning circle? Response: I have not measured the turning circle, but my estimate it is equal to original in that I kept same geomtry proportions.

Comment: That center point attachment is the key to eliminating bump steer.
Response: I agree with your assumption, the length of the arm distributes the change over a greater length than R&P that have the actuation from the endpoints.

Question: Is that a Stude engine and pan?
Response: No it is a 513 CID Cadillac.

Question: I wondered whether a rack and pinion would clear the stock pan.
Response: Don't know for sure but the R&P does'nt take much space.

Question: To shorten the steering arms did you just cut them off and forgea new flat end or did you just cut a groove to make it flat?
Response: I heated the stock Stude arms and changed the drop from 2" to 1" and then cut the arm approx. 2" shorter than stock. Maintained slow cooldown to avoid brittleness.

Question: How did you put the tapered hole in the steering arm?
Response: The Lemans joints have the same taper as the Stude but they are smaller in diameter. I drilled a hole equal to the minor diameter of the joint taper and then taper reamed the hole to the major diameter of the joint.
Question: From the picture, it looks like the steering arm connection is higher than the connection on the rack. Could you not have left the 2" drop in the steering arms?
Response: I had the car down on the air bags when that picture was taken. When at drive height the arms are parallel with ground.

draglink.jpg ft3qtr.jpg rpmounts.jpg
rolledpan.jpg rp91lemans.jpg rpback.jpg
rpbagsdown.jpg rpfmlftside.jpg rpfmtrans.jpg
rpinstalled.jpg rpleft.jpg rpmod.jpg
rpmounts.jpg rprtside.jpg strngbarjoint.jpg

Here is some more detail on the Steering change to Power Rack & Pinion.

The R&P is installed in a 1953 Starlight coupe fitted with a 513 Cadillac engine and 400TH transmission. The car is fitted with Air Bag suspension front and rear. The "A" arms were special fabricated but maintain the same basic geometry as the originals.

I am using a GM column and a 91 Pontiac Lemans Rack and Pinion. This style of R&P mounted to the firewall of these cars and the steering arms connected to the center of the rack rather than on the ends.

I was able to use the drag links arms that came off the Pontiac Lemans. I did have to reshape and lengthen them. The lengthening was done by TIG welding a spacer piece approx 2" long and then sleeving the area and TIG welding all around.

I modified (see pix), the original Studebaker steering arms by changing the drop from 2" to 1" and also decreased the length of them. The tapered hole for the drag link joint was drilled into the ends of the steering arms using a taper bit. I was able to use the Pontiac joints as well.

The R&P is mounted (see pix), to the underside of the frame rails. I fabricated two attachment plates (see pix), that attach to the frame using 4 bolts. The plate also has a raised area for mounting the R&P with two bolts. I had to modify the drivers side mount of the R&P. One of the pix shows where I cut off a portion of the R&P mount so that it would lie flat against the mounting bracket.

I used the Cadillac power steering pump and had to have the high pressure steering hose lengthened & fitted with a connector that would match the Cadillac steering pump. I was able to reroute the inlet and outlet tubing/hoses without any problems. I did not have to use any pressure reduction devices with the GM pump.

The coupling from the R&P to the steering column uses two "U" joints and a straight piece of 3/4" rod between them.

The R&P fits up very well in the recessed area of the oil pan which is from a El Dorado. It is the one that has two oil drain plugs.

I have had no bump steer problems at all and the system is working very well. I had to tweak some of the drag link bends to eliminate interference. I am using a air bag suspension system which made it nice to check interference throughout its entire travel.

As a suggestion, do not get a quick ratio R&P, I believe they have about 2.5 turns lock to lock. The standard unit has about 3.5 turns lock to lock which is much better. I know this because the first rack I had installed was the 2.5 turns lock to lock and it was way to sensitive for me. I was able to buy all of the parts for this project at a salvage yard for $65. The cost to have the hose made up for the Power Steering pump was $50