This is perhaps one of the most common complaints about this car. There are a lot of correctable causes here and one must ensure that these have been looked into. To list them out :
The importance of ensuring that the above causes cannot be over emphasized. If after these have been looked into you will probably accept the heavy steering as most people have then you need not have to worry about power steering and these would only help you out for parking manouvres really as at kerb speeds the steering is tolerable.
When you analyse the steering arrangements you realize that several compromizes have been made. see the diagram for ideal arrangements
The above is the steering linkage of the left wheel on a P1800 and 122/121.Please note that the steering rod is quite a distance from the lower arm pivot point. This is not the case on a 144/164 series. Any one who has driven these cars will agree that the 144 and the 164 have a much more neutral handling and less harshness transmitted to the driver of the car. The diagram below demonstrates this clearly.
As the two diagrams represent there appears to be a slightly leass than ideal arrangement of the geometry in front. This can be appreciated when the car is driven over uneven surfaces very slowly. Normally no bump should transmit itself at the wheel when the car is being driven. Normally the problem is quite tolerable when everything is new. As wear sets in, the problem becomes more marked as the allignment angles become more askew. In cars where the steering arrangements are better the wear does not translate so markedly at the steering wheel.