Telescopic steering wheel

Corvette tilt / telescoping steering column installed in a 1972 Vega.

My column is a 1979.  The years that will work are 1977 through 1982. Get a complete column, in good working condition. Individual parts can be found, but you will pay through the nose.

GM went to a key inhibitor lever (like on all years of Vegas) on the Corvette in 1977.   You don’t want anything earlier as it used a back drive system with cable linkage to prevent the column from locking unless the car was in park, or reverse on a 4-speed. 1977 only had the wash / wipe switch in the turn signal lever and also had the cruise control (if equipped) activated by a button on the end of the tilt lever.  1978 thru 1982 had the cruise control (if equipped) activated by the turn signal lever.

I cut off the Corvette welded on firewall mounting bracket, leaving some of the weld as a stop for the Vega firewall bracket.  I adapted the Vega firewall bracket by grinding out the locator “tit” and had a muffler shop expand the inside diameter that slips over the column by around .125.  The Corvette column has the end bearing retained by a cap & snap ring.  I removed that, put the Vega firewall bracket on and then reinstalled the cap and snap ring.  I pushed in the Corvette splined shaft end by about 2” to get it close to the Vega length. It moved pretty easily.  (I have another tilt/telescope column from an ’82 and  the shaft moves even easier on that one than the one I just built). The splined end fit perfectly in my Vega intermediate steering shaft, with minor grinding using a Dremel for coupling bolt clearance.

For the dash mount, the Corvette has a welded on bracket versus the bolt on for the Vega, plus the mounting height is about 2” lower on the Corvette column.  I removed the capsule mounts and cut on the mounting bracket until it would clear the bottom of the Vega dash.  I did a lot of measuring and re-measuring on a factory Vega tilt column I have.  I then drilled a mounting hole on one side of the Corvette dash mount bracket; the other side was already clear in the area where I needed to bolt up at.

I made up 4 pieces out of 1” flat stock, drilled them with a 3/8” drill and sandwiched them onto both sides of the mounting bracket, and had them spot-welded in place once I verified proper fit.  I made up a pair of spacers out of 7/8” hex stock, different lengths, because one side of the Corvette bracket is lower than the other.  (driver’s side 1.900 long and passenger side 1.800 long).

I drilled and tapped them with a 3/8-16 thread them all the way through.  They screw onto the factory dash studs on one end and on the other end I installed studs that pick up the column mounts and installed the column to that with the Vega factory dash/column nuts.

I had to switch out the column wiring harmonica plug to the Vega one, but all the wire colors are the same. I wired up the column dimmer switch for a modern touch.

I am using a steering wheel from Eckler’s that has the Corvette mounting pattern, but with less dish than a Corvette factory wheel and is smaller in diameter.  The horn cap is adapted from a Vega GT wheel.

End result is with the telescope all the way forward, the steering wheel is about 3” closer to me.  Add another 1” with it all the way back.  It is a much more comfortable driving position for me.  I have a bad shoulder and the closer I can keep my elbow to my body, the less pain I get in my shoulder.

2 responses to “Telescopic steering wheel

  1. maurice

    is a 77 vega and a 72 vega steering collum the same

    • Jon

      They are pretty much the same until you get to the connector at the end of the column that connects to the steering gear box.
      You will probably have to swap the connector from your old column to the newer one….shouldn’t be much of an issue.
      Electrically you may have to remove the wires from the plug & insert them into your old one. I think I had to. Just make yourself a diagram before you do this so you know what color wire goes where.

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