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This week’s podcast show guest is Jim Goodlad, the man known as “GMJim” on the forums and the guy that handles all of the technical questions for Hurst Driveline Conversions. Hurst Driveline specializes in swap kits of 5 and 6-speed Tremec transmissions specifically designed for the majority of the popular ’60’s and ’70’s era American muscle cars, including the majority of GM applications, Ford, and (*gasp*) even Mopar!
During our interview I gained a little history on Hurst Driveline Conversions. Many of you may know it under one of it’s previous names, Classic Chevy 5-Speed, but today it’s under the B&M family of companies – thus the reason that they now offer swap kits for applications other than just Chevy’s. In addition to the kits they already have created, Jim let me know that they can also create a custom kit with just the right parts for each person, so even if they don’t have a kit for your specific car that doesn’t mean that they can’t create a one-off just for you.
The transmission lineup that they offer are the aftermarket versions of the 5-speed TKO-500 and TKO-600 (5-speed) transmissions, plus the T-56 Magnum (6-speed).
The number used in the transmission designation on the 5-speeds represent the lb-ft of torque that the transmission is rated for, and they offer multiple versions of each trans with differing gear ratios, with different internal ratios and final overdrive (like .82, .68, etc.).
The T-56 can handle over 700 ft-lbs of torque and also has multiple gear ratio options. (As a side note, their website has a fun calculator to play with to see what you new engine RPM’s will be at highway speed once your overdrive is in place.)
One of the big benefits of the Hurst kit is that they have a low profile proprietary offset shifter (called the “Black Jack”) that allows the shifter handle. This is a nice deal as the factory shifter location on a Tremec is directly in the middle of the back of the transmission, not on the side. For many GM applications, this shifter (and there are many different versions of it for the different applications) it effectively lets the shift handle pop up through the factory shifter hole. This is a nice option especially for those with factory 4-speed cars that would like to retain the factory look of an original console (Jim has this setup in his personal ’69 Camaro Z/28).
I asked Jim specifically if it’s required to cut the floor on most muscle car applications to install a Tremec. As you might guess, the honest answer was….it depends!
For First Gen Camaros, there is likely no cutting needed – they already have the room as long as there’s no sag in the body and the body mounts are good. For A-Body GM’s (like Chevelle’s, GTO’s, etc.), plan to cut, but they’ll provide the template and sheet-metal to make it as easy as possible. For Fords, likely no cutting is required since the Tremec is based on the old Ford Toploader manual trans. For Mopars, it can depend.
At the end of the discussion I walked Jim though my personal ’64 Chevelle build and asked his recommendation on which transmission I should run. Many of you know that I bought the Hurst Driveline TKO-600 back in 2010, but now the car is undergoing a massive Pro-Touring conversion. For those of you looking to extend your driver-status muscle car into one with an overdrive, the 5-speed is probably your best option – it’s cheaper and a better fit for the application. If you’re looking for a Pro-Touring ride that will see autocross and road race duties, go with the 6-speed (and we dug into why that is during the interview).
If you’d like to speak with Jim directly with questions he can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also did a nice write-up on the installation of a TKO-600 into his personal Camaro, which is availability on the Hurst Driveline Conversions website.
Thanks for the interview, Jim!
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