We'll spare you with the details...
We'll spare you with the details on how to pull a 330 small-block and a two-speed trans out of a '65 Cutlass, but suffice it to say that they both came out in one fell swoop, and we were glad to see them go. Upon measuring the dimensions of the small-block next to the big-block, Jarvis realized that both are very similar in size, so he decided to use small-block motor mounts to bolt the 461 in position.
Without even realizing it, we'd built a domestic ricer. Replete with a sweet stance, big wheels, gooey meats, and a cutting-edge suspension, our '65 Cutlass project car certainly looked the part of the quintessential g-Machine, but fell three gears and 300 hp short of being the real deal. With the help of the School of Automotive Machinists, we embarked upon addressing the power shortage last month by putting the finishing touches on a 514hp big-block. Now it's time to move on to the second act of Project Olds' powertrain shuffle by ripping out the miserable two-speed slush box for a complete five-speed swap kit from Hurst Driveline Conversions. This comprehensive setup includes every last nut and bolt necessary to install a Tremec TKO transmission into a GM A-body, and any monkey with a wrench should be able to knock out the install over a weekend.
Hurst Driveline Conversions specializes in turnkey five- and six-speed swap kits for a variety of GM and Mopar muscle cars. Enthusiasts can choose between either a Tremec TKO 500 or 600, or a T56. Since one overdrive ratio was plenty for Project Olds' intended use, we ordered up Hurst's Elite conversion kit with a TKO 600. Designed for cars originally equipped with an automatic transmission, the Elite kit includes a five- or a six-speed trans, a driveshaft, a speedometer cable, a trans mount, a pilot bearing, a bellhousing, a flywheel, a clutch, a tunnel patch, and a shifter and knob. For factory manual trans cars, Hurst offers its Deluxe kit, which scratches the bellhousing, flywheel, and clutch off the list. If that formula of top-to-bottom thoroughness sounds familiar, it's because Hurst Driveline Conversions has been around for a while, but has recently changed its name. The company's former handles include Classic Motorsports Group and Classic Chevy 5 Speed. Regardless of the moniker under which it operates, you'd be hard-pressed to piece together a Tremec trans swap for less money than it costs to order up a complete kit from Hurst. For those who already have a custom driveshaft and shift knob, one of Hurst's Basic conversion kits can be had starting at $2,195.
In addition to everything...
In addition to everything Hurst includes in its comprehensive Elite kit, we ordered the optional SFI bellhousing, billet steel flywheel, and heavy-duty clutch. Hydraulic clutch linkages and pedal kits are available for some cars as well.
In what has become a monthly tradition during the steady progress of Project Olds, we once again turned to Performance Restorations(www.PerformanceRestorations.com) for assistance with the install. A hardened veteran builder of Pro Touring cars, Brent Jarvis has installed tons of five-speeds in his day. "At our shop, five-speed conversions and big brake swaps are the two most popular upgrades that we do. Installing a modern five-speed trans is one of the best mods you can make to modernize an older muscle car and make it much more fun to drive," he says. Since we're also dropping in a fresh 461ci big-block Olds along with the Tremec five-speed, we had to break this story down into two parts. We'll tackle the engine transplant and bolt the tranny into place this month, then finish buttoning up the clutch linkage, pedals, driveshaft, shifter, and interior next month. Then Project Olds will be ready to turn some laps!