Vette-Rod/Resto-Mod Corvette builds are on fire today. As many people are discovering, you can have the best of both worlds with these Corvettes. The current trend is to have the look of a classic Corvette with all the creature comforts of the late-models, while blending in the performance and handling of a C4/C5 caliber car. The result is cool, early-Corvette styling with 21st century drivability.
We're currently building a Resto-Mod '68 Corvette that has plenty of power, anti-lock brakes with BAER six-piston calipers, Vintage Air A/C, and plenty of suspension upgrades. One important upgrade to the car was rack-and-pinion steering, which requires new steering linkage to connect to the steering column for our Resto-Mod. When we got to that part of the job, the original '68 non-tilt column was in rough shape and was either ready for a rebuild or to be replaced.
The simple solution was to replace the column with a new Flaming River tilt column that is ready to go with four-way flashers and new turn-signal switch technology. Flaming River offers tilt columns with the correct diameter tube to fit correctly in the dash of any '63-'68 Corvette. Their tilt columns are a nice addition to the early Corvettes, especially when you're entering and exiting the cockpit. in the past, there wasn't a new tilt column available, and we had to retro-fit a difficult-to-find, used one from another GM vehicle.
There are also adapters available to reinstall your original steering wheel or one of the many new Flaming River steering wheels that are offered. Once installed, the column looks like it was installed on the assembly line. Flaming River also has highly polished, 304-grade stainless steel column assemblies if you're looking to add some "bling" to your ride.
In our installation, we went for the mill-finish stainless steel tilt column so we could paint it the interior color and then top it off with a cool-looking Flaming River steering wheel. The steering wheel we picked had bright-silver carbon-fiber material with a red leather covering. We liked the carbon-fiber silver on the steering wheel so much we replaced the custom seat inserts with the same material.
To begin the install, we face...
To begin the install, we face our first dilemma: do we cut the plate off the original column and most likely destroy it or fabricate a new plate? We decided to fabricate a new plate because it is hard to find a good, repairable, original column for a '68 Corvette today. We started with a piece of .080 flat steel and cut the center smaller than necessary to allow us to have the tabs for welding the plate to the column.
The .080 steel forms easily...
The .080 steel forms easily and makes the column fit tightly to the firewall. We placed the fabricated plate on the column, then put the column in position before tack welding it in place. An original firewall seal can be used since we duplicated the original firewall plate, plus the steering column can be adjusted accordingly.
Our next dilemma was the column-to-dash...
Our next dilemma was the column-to-dash support. after some thought, we found a piece of 2x.125-inch-thickness square tube would work well for the support. The center was cut with a 111/42-inch hole saw, while the rest of the bracket was plasma cut.