Automatic vs Manual Trans - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 07:32 AM Thread Starter
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Automatic vs Manual Trans

I'm still looking for a car, and have a few candidates in the fire including one forum members car. Anyway, I'm in that middle of the road group torn between the muscle vs pro-touring look/setup. I'm also wondering about automatic vs stick.

I see a lot of Camaros advertised as "pro-touring" and many are automatic. As someone who drove a modded SVT Lightning with a modded trans and stall converter for 10 years, I am kinda looking forward to a stick trans again. Lightnings are brutally fast trucks, and mine was dropped via Belltech spindles/GroundForce springs up front and Hotchkis TVS Leafs and Strange Adjustable shocks in the back. Those trucks are lower from the factory and handle surprisingly well stock. The 3"/4" drop on mine made it handle even better. I wouldn't hesitate to go with Hotchkis for leaf springs in a Camaro unless somebody told me they wouldn't be a great handling and driving solution.

So I'm kinda new to the pro-touring Camaro scene, but I assume the goal is to have a great handling/riding combo as opposed to the jacked up muscle drag racer look. My car will be mainly a cruise night, car show one, with a few day long drives maybe to the cape or Jersey Shore (300 miles). An automatic is nice in heavy traffic, and the new DSG automatics in performance sports cars are nice, but I'm curious about the pros and cons of automatic vs stick in your "pro-touring look" Gen1 Camaro. How many of you have actually modded the valve bodies or converters in your automatic setup? And how many have stuck with a Muncie 4-speed as opposed to a TKO 5-speed or maybe a 6-speed?

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Mike
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 07:55 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Protour = OD manual tranny 5 or 6 speed hands down

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 08:11 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Automatics are preferred in a race car because it multiples the engines torque up until the stator is close to the sped of the turbine. This is of particular importance with a small displacement SBC.

The factory didn't put an automatic behind the Z/28's 302 because the concept of a high stall speed converter hadn't been discovered yet (the Vega with it's tiny eight inch converter wasn't produced until 1970, and it took racers a few years to discover the benefits of the higher stall speed behind a V8 engine).

So even though "Mr. Automatic" Ronnie Sox or "Da Grump" (and his two replacement drivers) could shift a modified four speed just as fast as an automatic banged gears; without the slip, allowing the engine to rev higher than the input shaft speed, no one wanted an automatic as it does cost power in the form of heat lost to the slipping in the converter.

I think you have already decided that you want to row gears. As such I think you will be a lot happier with a manual. Since you will need an overdrive transmission to compensate for steeper gears in a Pro Touring car (street driven drag car) I strongly recommend a Tremec or a T-56 transmission. Do not even think about the Borg warner T-5 as that was designed to be a Ford Pinto four cylinder transmission originally and even replacing brass bushings with ball bearings doesn't increase it's strength.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larger Dave View Post
Automatics are preferred in a race car because it multiples the engines torque up until the stator is close to the sped of the turbine. This is of particular importance with a small displacement SBC.

The factory didn't put an automatic behind the Z/28's 302 because the concept of a high stall speed converter hadn't been discovered yet (the Vega with it's tiny eight inch converter wasn't produced until 1970, and it took racers a few years to discover the benefits of the higher stall speed behind a V8 engine).

So even though "Mr. Automatic" Ronnie Sox or "Da Grump" (and his two replacement drivers) could shift a modified four speed just as fast as an automatic banged gears; without the slip, allowing the engine to rev higher than the input shaft speed, no one wanted an automatic as it does cost power in the form of heat lost to the slipping in the converter.

I think you have already decided that you want to row gears. As such I think you will be a lot happier with a manual. Since you will need an overdrive transmission to compensate for steeper gears in a Pro Touring car (street driven drag car) I strongly recommend a Tremec or a T-56 transmission. Do not even think about the Borg warner T-5 as that was designed to be a Ford Pinto four cylinder transmission originally and even replacing brass bushings with ball bearings doesn't increase it's strength.

Big Dave
Dave...

LOL... You're probably right, I'm an old fart, but I enjoy driving a stick car. My old DD was a '08 Cooper S Turbo 6-Speed (sold it last year) and I inherited the family sedan '04 E500 4Matic Benz. Great DD especially in the snow LOL.

Way back when I was a drag racer I had a 58 Pontiac Bonneville with the TriPower setup, used to race in the stock class but underneath it had a '55 Caddy Hydramatic with the B&M mods. My Lightning was a lot like that, my tuner set it up on the dyno so the shifting got quicker and more intense as the revs went up. I've ridden in a few paddle shift porsches and I'm a believer in DSG. But for a '60's Camaro or Mustang? I think a cruiser needs a stick.

So I should avoid looking at Camaros with a TKO 5-speed? I know the 6-speed was used on Vipers, whats been used on later model Corvettes and Camaros? My 99 Vette had a 6-speed, but it was a lease and I just had fun driving it. Any 60's era Camaro I'd be looking at is going to have a built engine of sorts... you never know exactly what unless there's a build sheet. And most likely they will have a Muncie or BW 4-speed, and quite a few have TKO's. I know Richmond makes gears... I have seen some cars advertised as 5-Speed Richmond. What does that mean? The cars with Tremec 6-speeds are not all over the place although I have seen a couple. One was sold by time I called the guy LOL, the other one might still be around but its behind a built 383 SB. I do know that the Muncie trans will stand up to a lot of abuse, but honestly those days are over for me. I could easily live with a Muncie, the nice thing about a 5/6 speed is that they might have some overdrive aspect that allows more flexibility with rear end ratios.

Mike

Last edited by 57vette; Mar 15th, 16 at 02:54 PM.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 03:30 PM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

With my car I bought an automatic specifically because I drag race (or used to drag race a lot). A well built and properly equipped auto will beat a manual 9 times out of 10 in a straight line. (talking street gear cars, not Lencos...)
Mine is a modified manual valve body (not full manual) TH350 with a 4500 stall. I love it. Good ratchet shifter and let it eat, ha.

That said, with my new motor (8k+ rpm redline) and the fact I don't drag race as much, I could see one day going down the road of a 5 speed box. I have an old 5 liter Mustang with a 5 speed and it's a lot of fun to drive still, but so is my automatic.

They all have their advantages but it sounds like you want to shift gears, I would get a manual but if you find a deal on an auto equipped car changing it is not a huge deal. Something to consider.

As for the so called "pro touring" scene, that has turned into what pro street was in the 80's. But using the guidelines the pro street guys talk about (corner carver, etc.) how you could go automatic is beyond me. It would be 5 or 6 speed or nothing if that was the route I was going. Just one mans opinion....
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 05:37 PM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

I tend to agree with Sean. Road racing is all about a manual gear box.

Most Pro touring or Pro street cars I have seen have been a poor man's copy of a Pro Stock but with smaller tires and cheaper motors. But basically just straight line only thumpers designed to embarrass Hondas and Nissans at the street light near you.

As to the Borg-Warner T5 it was used behind the 305 smog engine in a light third gen Camaro but GM still dropped them due to the number of warranty claims (tranny failures) with a small V8 engine. And this was the WC or World Class B-W T5 that had bearings that replaced the bushings to limit the flexing of the gear shafts (that leads to tranny failures). This transmissions was originally designed in the seventies to be used in the Mustang II and Ford Pinto fleet of in line four cylinder engines and few power house V6 engines. With the bearing upgrade Ford put them in Fox body Mustangs with a 302 engine. They were never designed for the torque levels of even a mild 350 SBC V8 engine; and they will break if the tire ever stops spinning.

The five speeds recommended above are for a TKO 500 (which designates it's torque rating of 500 foot pounds) or it's big brother the TKO 600. The Tremec five speed and the T-56 Borg-Warner transmission are designed for super cars with 600 horsepower (Viper ten cylinder engines wit a lot of torque). Same for the Tremec gear boxes: there are also ZF five and six speed boxes that can handle 550 to 600 foot pounds of torque out of Corvettes.

As to the Richmond Gear transmission it is a basically an old Liberty Gear set transmission that Richmond gear bought out and relabeled The original five speed Richmond gear transmission built for road racing had reliability issues; as most didn't survive the twelve hour long race. This was in the same time frame as the Muncie failures in Trans Am racing forcing GM to redesign it as a "Rock Crusher" (using slightly wider gears with straighter teeth to reduce tangential loading of the bearings in the aluminum case). The Richmond suffered the same case failures due to the angle of the gears pushing the countershaft aft. This caused bearing failure that led to the tranny failing. In drag racing the four speed Liberty Gear set offered you a choice of better gear splits with different first gear ratios.

By the way a Lenco or similar planetary gear transmission will not work on the street. They cannot be down shifted for starters, and if you miss a gear you have to pull over and take off again in first. Additionally since it is a planetary tranny they do not offer any braking action as they free wheel on coasting.

Apologize if I left out your favorite tranny but as usual I lost my chain of though half way through this post. There are a couple of other transmissions including the super sized Muncie made by AGE if you stay with just a four speed, but I'm drawing a blank. Every tranny offers and advantage as well as a draw back (torque rating, gear splits, first gear ratio, or OD ratio) you just have to compare what is offered against what your needs are and of course your wallet.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 06:01 PM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larger Dave View Post

Most Pro touring or Pro street cars I have seen have been a poor man's copy of a Pro Stock but with smaller tires and cheaper motors. But basically just straight line only thumpers designed to embarrass Hondas and Nissans at the street light near you.

Big Dave
Seriously? That is about the most inaccurate description of a pro-touring car I have ever seen. Maybe you should check out some real pro-touring cars. Any of Mark Stielow's cars would be a good start. His latest is Hellfire. Google it....

There is a couple of good pro-touring sites worth spending some time on to gain a better understanding of what a pro-touring car is.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 07:07 PM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhutton View Post
Seriously? That is about the most inaccurate description of a pro-touring car I have ever seen. Maybe you should check out some real pro-touring cars. Any of Mark Stielow's cars would be a good start. His latest is Hellfire. Google it....

There is a couple of good pro-touring sites worth spending some time on to gain a better understanding of what a pro-touring car is.

Don
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 07:27 PM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

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Originally Posted by Vega$69 View Post
Protour = OD manual tranny 5 or 6 speed hands down
What he said... Our PT car had a 6sp.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 15th, 16, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Thanks, you guys are giving me a lot of good information to drink in. I do have a potential lead on an automatic 69 Camaro which is probably a semi-project, needs a full interior but is driveable as is. I don't know about the chassis, so I have to chase it down and see. I'm getting 2nd hand info, but it's supposed to be a car I can buy at a low enough price that if I want to switch to stick, it'd be feasible. But ideally, I'd much rather have found a car with guts & bones I liked LOL.

So decent retrofit transmissions that are up to handling a built 350/383/400 SBC or a reasonable 396/427/454 BBC would be a Tremec 5 or 6 speed or Borg Warner T56 6 speed, ZF 5 or 6 speed boxes from corvettes?

Ballpark, what's a rebuild cost for a Tremec T56? And once you have a trans, what about cross members, shift linkage and whatever else is needed?

Mike
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 16th, 16, 03:21 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

[QUOTE=57vette;3492193]

So I should avoid looking at Camaros with a TKO 5-speed? I know the 6-speed was used on Vipers, whats been used on later model Corvettes and Camaros? My 99 Vette had a 6-speed, but it was a lease and I just had fun driving it. Any 60's era Camaro I'd be looking at is going to have a built engine of sorts... you never know exactly what unless there's a build sheet. And most likely they will have a Muncie or BW 4-speed, and quite a few have TKO's. I know Richmond makes gears... I have seen some cars advertised as 5-Speed Richmond. What does that mean? The cars with Tremec 6-speeds are not all over the place although I have seen a couple. One was sold by time I called the guy LOL, the other one might still be around but its behind a built 383 SB. I do know that the Muncie trans will stand up to a lot of abuse, but honestly those days are over for me. I could easily live with a Muncie, the nice thing about a 5/6 speed is that they might have some overdrive aspect that allows more flexibility with rear end ratios.

I had a Muncie M-22 4 speed in my car for years - never had an issue with it and it held up very well to my abuse. I had a 450hp SBC and 12 bolt posi with 4:10 ratio in the back. That was a very fun car to drive around town, but on the highways it was just plain brutal. Loving that rear end ratio so much, I went with the 4:11 in my current build and fronted that with a T-56 Magnum(Tremec 6 speed) and a 572 BBC. I am hoping that this will be a killer setup. That being said, things that could change your consideration for a 4,5,or 6 speed car would be how the car you are looking at is set up.
If you have moderately built powerplant with 3:08 gears in the rear - a 4 speed would suffice. Once you get into the 3:55 or 3:73 and up ratios, you will want to consider at minimum a 5 speed.
A scenerio like mine above I worked out all my options and one other thing that came into play was the torque rating on my motor. Other than getting a custom built trans, the only one that that complied with my torque rating was the t-56 magnum.

Richmond does make transmissions as well although I have not heard anything good or bad about them.

Good luck in your searches

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 16th, 16, 04:51 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

my opinion....

If you're building a race car or something that needs to be completely consistent, you can't beat an automatic. I like to drive my cars however and nothing short of a manual will do it for me. When I bought my car it had a powerglide. I changed it to a muncie a few years back. It's going under the knife soon to get a 6 speed. If you're not racing and just want a fun car to mess around in it's hard to beat a manual.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 19th, 16, 03:36 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

Mike, sounds like your building a car for the same purposes as John and I have. A great looking, great handling street car.
Then do yourself a favour and go stick, if you check out Lateral-G or pro-touring.com you'll quickly see that 90% of all those builds are stick and of those 90% have T56's going in them.

Now you just need to decide how far down the rabbit hole you want to go $$$$ LOL

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 20th, 16, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

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Mike, sounds like your building a car for the same purposes as John and I have. A great looking, great handling street car.
Then do yourself a favour and go stick, if you check out Lateral-G or pro-touring.com you'll quickly see that 90% of all those builds are stick and of those 90% have T56's going in them.

Now you just need to decide how far down the rabbit hole you want to go $$$$ LOL

Cheers'
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Steve...

This time around, I hope to find something that is more or less complete or semi-complete. One of the members on this board has already contacted me about his car which although its complete in his view, to personalize I'd have to modify it a little. Some suspension changes like Hotchkis sway bars maybe, some paint work in the form of stripes as it has none, add a spoiler, different wheel configuration, maybe add a console. Down the road... maybe tubular control arms. LOL... Its up near the top of my list I'm just not making any impulsive moves.

That particular car is a 4-speed and I would much rather have a 5 or 6 speed, so I'm trying to figure out whats involved money/parts on a conversion.

Likewise, I know of a car that I have yet to see but I think it has potential except its automatic, so there again lies the problem, conversion.

Mike
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old Mar 20th, 16, 08:06 AM
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Re: Automatic vs Manual Trans

If doing an auto to 5 or 6 speed budget 4-5k for all new parts including hydraulic clutch. Not including labor.

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