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Old 09-25-2007, 01:51 PM
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78 Impala Tranny swap

Hello
I am the proud new owner of a fairly straight 78 Impala with a weak transmission. I will be putting in a transmission with overdrive, but I need some advice from people with more experience than myself. I would really, really like to swap in a 5 speed manual box, as I have a strong preference for manual transmissions. Has anyone done a swap like this into a B-body? Is it more headache than it is worth? If I do put in a manual, will a B-W T-5 out of a camaro be strong enough for my two ton car, or do I need to look for something stronger? Any suggestions for an inexpensive tranny? I am a first year teacher and so my budget is rather small. Any thoughts would be appreciated!! Thanks!

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Old 09-25-2007, 02:26 PM
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Hi Jon,
If I were on a tight budget w/student loans & only in
my first year of teaching, I would look to do something
cheaper & less work, 700R4, th200R, both of these are
overdrive transmissions, there are a couple more but for
a stocker, & for the price, I think this is the correct
approach,
Good luck,
rich
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Old 09-25-2007, 03:53 PM
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700r4 and 200-4r would be direct swaps with the right parts since B bodies of that era came with them.

Check out www.bbhp.com which stands for b-body high performance. Many Impala SS owners 94-96 have done a T56 swap. There are some on there who've done it with the older cars too... the B-body has changed VERY little since 1971, even further back with the BOP B bodies. Many of my cast-off parts from my 96 Impala like suspension pieces went onto my 66 Bonneville. they're that similar.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:00 PM
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I take it the consensus is that a Camaro T-5 would not be strong enough for a big car with a 350. Has anyone done any work with the New Venture 3500 tanny out of 1/2 ton chevy pickups? I live in a small farming town in the rust belt, so finding a donor vehicle for a reasonable cost probably wouldn't be out of the question. Anybody know if the physical size or weight of the tranny would make it unsuitable for a B-body? I need to replace my rusty floorpans anyway, so if I have to do any modifications it wouldn't be such a big deal.
Thanks so much for the info, guys, I really appreciate it. I can't work on the car until spring when I have access to a workshop, right now I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row by getting donor vehicles, etc. As I mentioned before, I have a very strong preference for manual transmissions, and if it is at all financially feasible I will try for it. If I absolutely can't afford to put a manual in the car, I do have a lead on an 80s Camaro with a 4speed auto I could rob for parts, but that will be only if a manual is completely out of the budget.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:26 PM
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Almost all of the truck trannys are very large. They're very tall top to bottom so even if they fit in the tunnel they would drag the ground. The 3550 is also not THAT much stonger than a world class T5. The other problem is that they almost all have a granny first gear which would basically make it a 4-speed with a useless extra gear way down low in a car.

There are plenty of 5 speeds that would fit the bill. later T5s from certain applications are called world-class and they'll take more abuse than an early light duty box. Richmond sells a 5-speed that will dish out some serious abuse. Like I mentioned before, the T56 six speed is a VERY nice box with a good ratio spread. They're geared a bit high, so you'll have to re-gear the rear. Typical OD ratios are in the .70 range. The T56 is .50. It makes 4.56 gears act like 2.28s on the highway. Serious OD.

The T56s that are most common are from 94-97. They came in vettes and f-bodies and they are almost always what are used in B-body swaps. Figure a whole conversion setup with pedals, bellhousing, flywheel, tranny, shifter, slave and master cylinders to be in the 1300-2000 range. That will get you everything except the crossmember, clutch and pressure plate. You'll have to modify an F-body or X-body pedal assembly for the square bolt pattern on the B-body brake booster, but that's as simple as welding little tabs on. The F-body shifter will surprisingly surface at about the right spot on your B-body. fine tuning with shift handles that angle back or left or right might be requuired for your personal tastes.

The output shaft and overall length is identical to a 700r4, so if you use a driveshaft from a 700-r4 (or 4L60e) car you'll be able to bolt it in. The crossmember will need to be modified or replaced with one from a company called Clear Image.

You could use a later t56 from 98 and later, but they changed enough to make in annoying. The input shaft is shorter, as is the bellhousing. One bolt hole won't line up and you'll need a special bushing for the input shaft... but its a pain.

Earlier t56s have lower gear ratios, but they crap out at a rated 350 lb-ft.

Viper t56s are remarkably common and can be had for $1600 new. Must have been a big surplus of them. Again it can be done (I did for my Impala SS) but it gets pricey fast. Lots of parts and a little machine work to make it fit like a GM tranny.

I spent so much time on the t56 just because of how frequently it gets done, how affordable things are, and how easily it fits with "factory" parts. You can get an idea of other trannys at these sites. They'll tell you overall lengths, sizes, weights, torque ratings, etc.

Any more questions, feel free to ask.
http://www.vibratesoftware.com/html_...nsmissions.htm
http://www.ttcautomotive.com/English/products/T-5.asp
http://www.ttcautomotive.com/English/products/TKO.asp
http://www.ttcautomotive.com/English/products/T-56.asp
http://www.5speeds.com/t5/index.html
http://www.standardtransmission.com/
Transmission Information.
http://www.transmissioncenter.net/Tr...asurements.htm
http://www.drwtransmission.com/trans_weights.htm
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:13 PM
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I looked at the B-body high performance website, it appears their kit includes everything except the transmission, bellhousing, clutch and flywheel, correct? Curtis73, when you did your swap did you use their kit? If so, what did you think of it? For that matter, how do you like your 6 speed Impala?
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Old 09-26-2007, 07:56 PM
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Good question... Its not done yet I have all the parts ready, but I can't spare the downtime right now.

I did it piece by piece for several reasons. First, I bought a viper tranny since it comes with much better steel shift forks. I then bought a new GM front plate, input shaft, and tailhousing. The front plate is required to allow bolting a GM bellhousing on. The input shaft is too different to adapt from the viper tranny, and I would have left the output housing alone except the fact that the shifter was too far forward for the Bbody. I bored out the tailshaft to accomodate the monster Viper output shaft. I bought a 1350-series output yoke for the viper shaft when I had Inland Empire fabricate a driveshaft.

I gave very strong consideration to an aftermarket bellhousing so I could use a 168-tooth flywheel, but chickened out when I saw the price. I bought a camaro bellhousing on ebay, a flywheel from Summit and a Spec clutch through a price match at an AutoZone. The pedals I scored from an 87 F-body. They're slightly different, but they'll hold a master cylinder just fine. The clutch cylinder reservoir I pirated from an old wrecked Yamaha R6. (hope its big enough).

In all I've spent waaaay more than if I just bought a complete junkyard takeout from ebay, but I have a brand new tranny with upgraded internals instead of a used stock tranny. 99% of the time those junkyard trannys are absolutely fine and I wouldn't hesitate for a second to do it. Most of them offer 30 day warranties or something. Most of the Impala SS guys just buy a setup from ebay or a junkyard and then use a BBHP kit. I've heard wonderful things about it. Pricey, but great.

I can tell you that I drove a 6-speed SS at a meeting a few years back and it was SO much fun. The owner hadn't gotten around to swapping out his 3.08 gears for 4.10s, so it was geared way too high, but it just felt nice to row gears in an SS.
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