By Alan Klingen, Al Zim, Ab Tiedmann, Brad Ripley, and Anthony DeMichael
[Editor: This page contains vendor information on steering coupler replacement parts, as well as some pertinent comments from veteran 356ers on couplers. Note: in July 2005 there was some discussion on 356Talk as to whether the Volvo P1800 steering coupler would work in a 356. Al Zim did some research and feels it definitely will not work, and recommends against it.]
Alan Klingen, The Stable: (posted to 356Talk) Many 356C couplers have broken but their design never allows you to lose total steering, maybe very sloppy but it still can steer. The C uses a wide coupling and the original type one is the only one I would trust but it is $$$, I think $300. Some of our vendors have clones made that are trust worthy. The one I have been using is a dual early type kit made by Brad at NLA. It is a complete kit with all the bolts lock tabs, etc., and is one I would trust. I have used quite a few of them and I always keep a couple in stock. They are strong and realiable and do the job 100%. If you are a 100% concours show car then you need the original $300 one, if not use the one from NLA. Like I have said I must have put in at least a dozen of these last year alone and even my highly opiniated mechanics like them. (A less expensive 65C steering coupler than an original from Porsche is the) coupler from a 911, 66 to 83+, is the same item but is round but has the same length. The early 911/coupler works very well but I would not want to use an old one. The upside to the coupler is it has a stiffer rate so steering is more direct but also road feed back is higher. The main down side now it its latest price increase, they are $83 plus you will need 4 bushings that serve as a fail safe drive. Total will be about $90. [Porsche part number 901.347.201.02, order from Porsche]
Al Zim, Zim's Autotechnik: (posted to 356Talk) It has also been said that the Porsche 911 coupler is an exact match of the "C" part as well. This, once again is incorrect in some respects. It did, in it`s original form on early cars, look similar to the "C" coupler, but it was not an exact cosmetic match for you "concours" guys out there. It also can NOT be bought in that original form. There has been a re-design of the part and although it may only be cosmetic, it still does not look like the original "C" part. It is just a round thick disc. The height is close but not exact, but could be used. The center to center distance of the bolts are them same and not a problem. The holes themselves through the coupler that the bolts go through are however different than the original unit. They do not have the stepped bore in them to allow the use of the same cheese head type bolts. The 911 unit uses regular hex head bolts. It would require longer bolts and some other miscellaneous hardware to make it work, but it could be made to work. It's only problem really, is that it is as of this posting not available in this country. It can however be ordered from Germany and the cost is also a factor at around $90-100 retail.
We highly suggest the use of our "C" coupler assembly [Ed: for 356C cars] which comes pre-assembled with all new hardware so that you can see exactly how it works. All you have to do is remove the installed bolts and put it in place between your flanges. Just re-install the bolts, tighten and you are done. The other beauty is the cost factor. It is only $49.95 and comes complete with a new coupler, all brand new hardware, a new ground strap, and instructions. It will not look exactly like the original 356C unit if you are a "concours" guy. You will have to spend the $232.00 and get the real thing. If you just want a safe, simple, and cost effective way to fix the problem, then this is the only logical answer. We have sold hundreds of them without any problem issues whatsoever. Give us a call 1-800-356-2964. Simply solving problems for years with practical solutions! Zim's Autotechnik steering couplers for 356, 356A, 356B, 356C
Ab Tiedmann, Afterwerke: (posted to 356Talk) The Afterwerke design preserves the original load path, maximizes unthreaded engagement of securing fasteners, provides locking retention, and preflight visual check of fastener initial tension. It utilizes the original grounding wire jumper and looks good too. This unit embodies two custom manufactured pieces and modified grip, partially threaded retaining fasteners. Once assembled and installed into the space, it mimics a B car with the optional steering wheel placement. Safety retention is innovative for this location. The current grounding wire jumpers have connectors which have evolved since first issue and the last ones that I received from Stoddard were not in the Porsche bag and I suspect "just made up locally" and sold under the Porsche part number for the Porsche price. I am working on my own version which will be a facsimile of the original. The custom manufactured pieces are made in the USA and the modifications to the European fasteners as well. The flex disc used is the currently available one made in Germany for the VW, and identical to that used in the Zims exclusive offering. Cost of the Afterwerke design will be $64.95 delivered in the contiguous 48. More than the Zim`s exclusive, but still only a fraction of the original unit's cost with preservation of all design principles formerly offered and improvement in loading in the shear planes. And, in my biased view, much better looking [photo shown below]. Email to email@example.com
Brad Ripley, NLA: [Photo of C coupler kit shown at right] Our design incorporates one-piece steel spacers between VW rubber couplings. The spacers take the place of the original tubes in each coupling. Bolts are 10.9 strength. Nyloc nuts are for the four coupling bolts. Lock plates are included for both the flange and the steering column bolts. Ground strap is a currently available VW item. This is a complete kit with everything you need to change out the original coupling with its rusty bolts, etc. Yes, the original coupling is available only from Porsche at $232.; that's just for the coupling. Here we have the complete kit for $59.95. Brad Ripley, NLA Limited, Inc., 1-800-438-8119, www.nlaparts.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony DeMichael, Stoddards: There are two basic types of steering couplers for Porsche 356 vehicles: 1950-1963 cars use 644.347.201.00; 1964-1965 356C cars use 695.347.201.00. The earlier 356 to 356A coupler we currently supply is a reinforced polymeric-type part with a "squarish" shape — not exactly as original but should have a longer service life. Note also that it is not reinforced with fabric as previously supplied, another change from the manufacturer. Of course we do offer the Porsche supplied 356C steering coupler— 695.347.201.00— currently priced at $237.92. As mentioned elsewhere, there are several alternative couplers currently offered for this part. For those doing a concours quality restoration or just wanting to keep their 356C as original, this item is the logical choice. Yes, it may be pricey, but it is as original and still available from Porsche. Paul Domitrovic, Stoddard Imported Cars., 1-800-342-1414, 356 Steering couplers.