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Discussion Starter #1
My dad brought home a 70 Malibu Convertible with a 350 and a 4-speed. I took it for a ride today, and DAMN! Manual trans Chevelles are SOOOO much quicker than with an automatic. I was cruising down the steet in second, punched it, and chirped the tires. Try that with a TH-400!

My question is this: My 70 SS396 is an automatic, but how hard is it to convert it to like an M-21? About how much should I expect to pay for a rebuilt 4-speed? Is there a place that sells conversion kits, pedals, linkages, etc? Also, how much harder/more expensive would it be to swap to a modern OD trans, like a 5 or 6 speed? I do have 4.11's out back, so an OD would be kinda nice. Would a 5 or 6 speed be able to handle about 500 HP? (just in case i add nitrous or something).

Thanks.

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Ian McDermott
1970 Chevelle SS 396
Gold Member #101
E-mail: [email protected]
Web page: www.columbia.edu/~ijm6/chevelle (This should work...)
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Here we go again! Manual trans quicker than an automatic trans? Have you actually tried to race a manual and an auto car? The four speed is terribly hard to launch, and don't even think about what happens if you miss a gear! I'll grant you that the auto will eat up a few horses, but more than enough is made up with it's ease of launch and quicker shifts. We own a '69 Yenko Camaro with a 400th, which was recently at the Pure Stock Drags in Michigan. Launching this car quickly would be a next to impossible task with a 4-speed! Just take a look at Muscle Car Review when the PSMCDR article comes out (that's me on the cover), and look at the quickest cars that were there, and see what transmissions they were running. Heck, just go to your local drag strip and see what most of the cars are running. In fact, I have debated putting an automatic in my LS-6 Chevelle, but since it's an original M-22 car, then that's what it shall have.

Put a manual trans in if you want nostalgia, but leave the automatic in if you want quicker ETs.

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Rob Clary
'70 LS-6 Chevelle
Team Chevelle Gold Member #85
Interested in COPOs, Yenkos or other dealer built muscle cars then go here: www.yenko.net
 

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If you don't already have one, REV LIMITER! Save your motor. Miss the 2-3 shift one too many times and poof, time for a new one. Watch the articles about shoot outs and see how many car owners bring someone else to drive their 4spd cars. Just about takes a pro to squeeze the most out of a 1/4 mile pass with a manual. I've had both and liked em both. Now I'm building a clone so could have had either. About once every 3 weeks I panic and wish I went 4spd, but the TH400 is going in.
John
 

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I have a TH400. and if I was going down the street in 2nd and punched it I would definatly get more than a chirp.
 

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Havoc;

Go to the "technical reference" section of this site to get all sorts of information on converting to a manual.

In regards to "kits", several of the part supply shops have kits that include the pedals, bell cranks, etc. Things like bell housings, flywheels, clutches, are readily available.

I feel that the richmond 5 speed would be the best swap (due to PROVEN strength), however you would want to change out the 4.11 rear for something more realistic, due to the ratios in the trans.

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Wes. Vann
Technical Reference & Wagons sections
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Discussion Starter #6
Well, since the closest dragstrip to the NYC area is about 3 hour away, I don't race. I'm all about having fun, and since buying tires every 2 weeks is my idea of fun, i really want a manual trans!

Joe454 - obviously you have a 454... The car i drove yesterday had a 1973 350 rated at 145 HP! I bet the starter in your car makes more power than that! If i had a TH-400 in it, the thing wouldn't move!

The manual trans just makes the car so much more responsive, like every single HP generated by the motor makes it to the rear wheels.

I'm 20 right now, maybe when I have a wife and kids, an auto will seem right. Right now, it's all about fryin tires! My friend works at a tire place, so i have an endless supply of almost-bald 17" tires
 

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Put a manual valve body in your automatic, or just shift it manually. If I drop mine down into second at 25MPH and stomp it the tires go right up in smoke.

But 4 speeds are more fun to drive..and it makes you feel like you've got more power, and have control of more power.

Though you really look like a turd when your trying to show off and you either fry your clutch, blow your driveline, or miss a shift and send a piston through the block. Though breaking stuff is kind of cool.

I recently saw a M21 on Ebay, rebuilt with everything except for the stuff inside the car you'd need (clutch pedal, etc) and it went for $450. I wish I had the money at the time, or I'd be running a 4spd behind my 454.

Wes
 

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Yeah, I agree that a manual gearbox is tons of fun, but I've been embarrassed more than a few times by automatics with my 4-speed Buick GS. Anyway, there's a complete 4-speed changeover setup in the recycler classifieds for $150, I think, which includes bellhousing, fork, pedals, etc, etc... so if you shop around the price ought to be reasonable. Everything's a bolt-in, of course.
 

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If you really want the four speed, nothing else will really do the trick. But an overdrive automatic, shift kit, and a higher stall torque converter is a wicked setup for street or racing. The stall converter will really snap your neck and waste rear tire rubber and the shift kit will bark second gear rubber with ease. Just watch for cops. A manual changeover should not be real expensive if you beat the bushes and get lucky. Don't get scammed though. Some guys will really try to gouge you on this type of stuff.
 

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Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

It's tuff to beat a good working 4/5/6 speed when it comes to the street driving fun factor
. Standards still tend to draw the WOW factor at cruise nights as well.

But, when it comes to consistent ET's and much less breakage, its hard to beat the automatics.

Look at what type tranny is used by the pros in racing. Drag racing= Auto, road racing= standard.

So, know what you want and don't want in your car, then like all other decissions, pick the one that YOU like/want.

It's your car and your decission.



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Bill Taylor
Merrimack, NH
TC Gold Member #73
http://www.chevelles.com/showroom/BillTSS70-2
 

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Ian, quicker, well, I don't know. I could probably run quicker with a T350, 3500 stall and brake...

BUT WHO CARES!

More fun. Nolo contendre. I wouldn't ever consider an auto in my BBC 67. NEVER!

I haven't run a rev limiter yet and porbably never will. DO NOT USE the standard GM Muncie shifter. POS. Change to an aftermaket Hurst. World of difference. I really have to try hard to go from 2 to 1, where 3 just happens.

Also, depending on your gearing, don't get stuck on an M21. M20 is better from a launch anyway and aren't in hot demand. I thinking of swapping my 21 to a 20. DZAUTO recommends I keep my 21, but a local shop offered me a "deal I can't refuse" on the swap if they keep the 21.

Anyway, no contest in the fun factor and wow factor. Hell dude everybody runs an auto. And, for the record, they are faster else you'd see more of them at the strip. The 4 speed FEELS faster in the seat of your pants though.

DZ just gave me the # of his Muncie guy in Long Island. Email me if you're in need.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You said it gene! My dad's car has a Hurst shifter, which has really short throws. After a trying to pull away from a few stoplights in third gear, I got the hang of it.

I guess my plan is to stick with the TH400 for now until I blow it up. Next chevelle I buy is gonna be a 4-speed BB though.
 

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go for the 4-speed,unless you live at the strip,I would go 4-speed!SOOOOOOOO much more fun!my chevelle does not steer Its self,so I dont want it shifting Itself.every one always talks e.t.,If you get good with the shifter,you can match your autos e.t.,seen it done!myself,I would not own a performance car with out 4-speed,done that and it bored me into selling it!(70 dodge challenger 383 s/e)yes,a good auto works well.But I like to control it,and when I let the 67/427 rip,I dont screw around,and it runs quite good,go for that 4-speed,sounds like you already like it!hell,gene likes em alot!67rat member #199

[This message has been edited by 67RAT (edited 09-27-99).]
 

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It only seems like the 4spd car is quicker because of the "Hard-Hit" you feel when you side step the clutch. I like the feel of the 4spd & their fun to drive!!! However, when the novilty wears off, usually after the 2nd clutch job, you'll be thinking twice about the reliability of the automatic. If you "gotta-have-it-an-can't-live-with-out-it" then Go-For-IT My 'ole '69 EC had a Turbo/350 and would Boil the tires in second on 295x15 T/A radials! IMHO Auto is the only way to go.

[This message has been edited by Cardiac (edited 09-27-99).]
 

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I don't know if any of you guys are old enough to remember when these muscle cars were new. In those days drag racing meant going fast. Consistency counted for very little, you had to get to the end of the quarter mile first to win. In those days all the NHRA Stock classes were broken into categories. (Stock & Stock/Automatic in each class from A through H or however far they went)
The reason for a separate "Automatic" category was to give the Autos a chance to win, too. In most classes, the ETs were about 0.5 seconds slower for Autos than 4 speeds, and these were STOCK cars with equal engines. And, these were not Professional drivers in the stock classes, just kids who had an SS396 Chevelle that they drove to work during the week and took to the drag strip on Sunday.
So, if you guys with 4 speeds are getting beat by an automatic car with equal engine, you better practice your driving skills. The 4 speeds always have been and always will be faster than an automatic in the hands of a skilled driver.
 

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I vote for the 4-speed.I have both but find that the automatics are so boring to drive after a while and nothing compares to blasting through the gears of a 5 or 6-speed standard and besides anybody can drive an automatic but not a standard.Just my .02 worth

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Ray{Surrey BC CANADA}
65 chevelle 2dr hdt 6cyl, 65 MalibuSS 327, 65 MalibuSS 454, 64 El Camino 350, 65 El Camino 327, 78 El Camino 305, 79 El CaminoSS 305
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www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Lane/7755
 

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After reading some of the posts above, I thought it would be interesting to actually compare the times that the 4-speeds and the automatics were running back when the cars were new. So, I grabbed the May 23, 1969, issue of Drag Times (Vol. 8, No.12). I then turned to the Drag Racing Results page and looked over the results from the 12 drag strips that sent in their class winners, along with their ETs/MPH. On this same page, there were the NHRA Class Records and the NAAR Class Records listed. Not only was this a trip "back in time", it was an eye opener as well. The ETs between 4-speeds and automatics varied, as they should, but not in the way that most would think. According to this issue, it was a push as to which tranny was quicker! In some classes, the automatic was quicker, while in others the 4-speed was quicker. I should also say that I didn't see the 1/2 second advantage that the 4-speeds had over the automatics, as stated above. Usually, the difference was a few hundreths or, at most, a tenth or two, with either tranny possibly being quicker.

So what does this prove? Well, not much, actually! All I am saying is, if you get bored easily, don't drag race all that often, and need to "flashback" to a time when a 4-speed was what everyone thought they needed, then go with a standard. BUT, if you want more consistent (probably even quicker) ETs, quicker and more reliable shifts, and the ability to get that over-powered big block cleanly out of the hole, then go with the automatic.

Once again, if you don't believe me, go to the drag strip, and see what everyone is running!

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Rob Clary
'70 LS-6 Chevelle
Team Chevelle Gold Member #85
Interested in COPOs, Yenkos or other dealer built muscle cars then go here: www.yenko.net



[This message has been edited by Chevy454 (edited 09-28-99).]
 

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Well Ian, there you have it. A matter of personal preference. Yet another "no clear winner" debate. Again, if I built a drag car;T4 with brake/4500 stall. I have a resto job. Nothing like a 4 speed. Personal choice.If I had an unlimited budget, I would popped on a Nash 5 for my 67.
 

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I haven't tried any of the newer clutches, but 10 years ago, with a decent clutch, I'd be so tired of shifting them da*(& gears that I'd drive home without even using the clutch, except to start at a red light. But then again, I have bad knees, too.
Glad my last LS5 was a T-400. Like posted above, 40 moh kickdowns did more than chirp.
Plus, after you change the Muncie a couple of times from full throttle misses, you'll be sticking that 350 back in there.
 

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Personally, I am a 4-speed guy (love the feel of a manual trans and speed shifts) who immediatly changes over every car I buy to a 4-speed if it was an auto. You can get a rebuilt Muncie for $600 just about anywhere, but I usually get one for $150 at a swap meet then buy a $140 rebuild kit and do it myself. Buy a centerforce clutch it's easy on your leg and will last forever. I was replacing clutches every 6 months until I bought a centerforce 11" clutch 6 years ago. the pedals and linkage are available from any Chevelle Parts place like Ground-Up.
 
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