1957 Convert to manual transmission

Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1957
The automatic tranny in my '57 is shot and there aren't any transmission shops around me that will work on or rebuild it. I really don't want the Fordomatic that's in there anyway. So, who out there has any information or experience doing a tranny swap? I understand that I'll need to buy a new driveshaft and pull the engine to do this. What transmission would work the best, be the easiest to instal and is there a kit to instal it? What about clutches, foot pedal assembly and bell housing? I don't want old stuff from the 50's. I want new stuff. Any ideas?
 
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jack-in-sac

Active Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Thunderbird Year
1957
The automatic tranny in my '57 is shot and there aren't any transmission shops around me that will work on or rebuild it. I really don't want the Fordomatic that's in there anyway. So, who out there has any information or experience doing a tranny swap? I understand that I'll need to buy a new driveshaft and pull the engine to do this. What transmission would work the best, be the easiest to instal and is there a kit to instal it? What about clutches, foot pedal assembly and bell housing? I don't want old stuff from the 50's. I want new stuff. Any ideas?
I am sorry to tell you that there is no "kit" to do this that I know of. There are no "new" parts for anything you have listed except the clutch. The driveshaft can be modified by a competent driveline shop. As far as I know you would have to pull your engine to replace the automatic transmission. If you are not interested in originality you have choices for manual transmissions. Anything from a B/W T-85 to a modern 6-speed and those in between. If you do not want overdrive then a B/W T-10 or a Ford toploader with the caveat that the easiest is if you fine a dual pattern mounting transmission to mate to the bell housing. An 80s aluminum case toploader with fourth gear being overdrive is also a good solution. I do suppose you may find an aftermarket bell housing but I am not particularly hopeful. I suggest you get in contact with the various Thunderbird specialty suppliers. They often have recycled parts which you will need some of. I would probably start for your location with CASCO, especially since they have a restoration shop. The people at CASCO are really nice and really helpful as are most of the specialty suppliers that are primarily Thunderbird specialists I personally like Amos and Justin Minter who have many parts but as nice as they are personally they may or may not be the most expensive. There are actually quite a few suppliers I could recommend.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2015
Thunderbird Year
1956
The automatic tranny in my '57 is shot and there aren't any transmission shops around me that will work on or rebuild it. I really don't want the Fordomatic that's in there anyway. So, who out there has any information or experience doing a tranny swap? I understand that I'll need to buy a new driveshaft and pull the engine to do this. What transmission would work the best, be the easiest to instal and is there a kit to instal it? What about clutches, foot pedal assembly and bell housing? I don't want old stuff from the 50's. I want new stuff. Any ideas?
I changed the Fordomatic in my 1956 T-bird to a T-5 manual out of a Mustang. I installed an original T-bird clutch-brake pedal assembly, flywheel and clutch assembly along with the Mummert bell housing adaptor. Had to grind just a fraction of an inch off the T-5 transmission input shaft. Used the Fordomatic transmission cross member by turning it upside down and drilling new mounting holes to bolt to transmission mount. Used a driveshaft from a C2 Corvette (correct length). Had to install a GPS speedometer unit because the T-5 I used would not accept the mechanical speedometer drive cable. Also had to cut new hole in the transmission tunnel because of the location of the gear shift lever and used replacement carpet from
Larry's that has the gear shift opening in the center location. Using an original T-bird manual transmission knob on the gear shift lever. Have driven the car over 10,000 miles and am very pleased with it. Have not had any problems using the Fordomatic rear axle ratio. Makes highway speeds very easy in combination with the fifth gear overdrive.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1957
I am sorry to tell you that there is no "kit" to do this that I know of. There are no "new" parts for anything you have listed except the clutch. The driveshaft can be modified by a competent driveline shop. As far as I know you would have to pull your engine to replace the automatic transmission. If you are not interested in originality you have choices for manual transmissions. Anything from a B/W T-85 to a modern 6-speed and those in between. If you do not want overdrive then a B/W T-10 or a Ford toploader with the caveat that the easiest is if you fine a dual pattern mounting transmission to mate to the bell housing. An 80s aluminum case toploader with fourth gear being overdrive is also a good solution. I do suppose you may find an aftermarket bell housing but I am not particularly hopeful. I suggest you get in contact with the various Thunderbird specialty suppliers. They often have recycled parts which you will need some of. I would probably start for your location with CASCO, especially since they have a restoration shop. The people at CASCO are really nice and really helpful as are most of the specialty suppliers that are primarily Thunderbird specialists I personally like Amos and Justin Minter who have many parts but as nice as they are personally they may or may not be the most expensive. There are actually quite a few suppliers I could recommend.
Thank you for your response. I kind of thought that was the case.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1957
I changed the Fordomatic in my 1956 T-bird to a T-5 manual out of a Mustang. I installed an original T-bird clutch-brake pedal assembly, flywheel and clutch assembly along with the Mummert bell housing adaptor. Had to grind just a fraction of an inch off the T-5 transmission input shaft. Used the Fordomatic transmission cross member by turning it upside down and drilling new mounting holes to bolt to transmission mount. Used a driveshaft from a C2 Corvette (correct length). Had to install a GPS speedometer unit because the T-5 I used would not accept the mechanical speedometer drive cable. Also had to cut new hole in the transmission tunnel because of the location of the gear shift lever and used replacement carpet from
Larry's that has the gear shift opening in the center location. Using an original T-bird manual transmission knob on the gear shift lever. Have driven the car over 10,000 miles and am very pleased with it. Have not had any problems using the Fordomatic rear axle ratio. Makes highway speeds very easy in combination with the fifth gear overdrive.
That sounds like a real headache. I'm not that good of a mechanic.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1957
That sounds like a real headache. I'm not that good of a mechanic.
I changed the Fordomatic in my 1956 T-bird to a T-5 manual out of a Mustang. I installed an original T-bird clutch-brake pedal assembly, flywheel and clutch assembly along with the Mummert bell housing adaptor. Had to grind just a fraction of an inch off the T-5 transmission input shaft. Used the Fordomatic transmission cross member by turning it upside down and drilling new mounting holes to bolt to transmission mount. Used a driveshaft from a C2 Corvette (correct length). Had to install a GPS speedometer unit because the T-5 I used would not accept the mechanical speedometer drive cable. Also had to cut new hole in the transmission tunnel because of the location of the gear shift lever and used replacement carpet from
Larry's that has the gear shift opening in the center location. Using an original T-bird manual transmission knob on the gear shift lever. Have driven the car over 10,000 miles and am very pleased with it. Have not had any problems using the Fordomatic rear axle ratio. Makes highway speeds very easy in combination with the fifth gear overdrive.
Actually, that doesn't sound that hard. Where did you track down the clutch peddle assembly?
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1957
I changed the Fordomatic in my 1956 T-bird to a T-5 manual out of a Mustang. I installed an original T-bird clutch-brake pedal assembly, flywheel and clutch assembly along with the Mummert bell housing adaptor. Had to grind just a fraction of an inch off the T-5 transmission input shaft. Used the Fordomatic transmission cross member by turning it upside down and drilling new mounting holes to bolt to transmission mount. Used a driveshaft from a C2 Corvette (correct length). Had to install a GPS speedometer unit because the T-5 I used would not accept the mechanical speedometer drive cable. Also had to cut new hole in the transmission tunnel because of the location of the gear shift lever and used replacement carpet from
Larry's that has the gear shift opening in the center location. Using an original T-bird manual transmission knob on the gear shift lever. Have driven the car over 10,000 miles and am very pleased with it. Have not had any problems using the Fordomatic rear axle ratio. Makes highway speeds very easy in combination with the fifth gear overdrive.
What year T-5 did you use? Ford?
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2015
Thunderbird Year
1956
I got the pedal assembly along with all of the associated parts to install the clutch from a gentleman who parted out 55-57 Tbirds. He has since passed away. I believe you can get all those parts from Hill's Thunderbird but it will probably be much less expensive if you can find someone parting one out.
The transmission is a T-5 out of a 1987 Ford Mustang,
.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
I am replacing the GM auto someone put in my '57 with the T5 which I bought new from Summit. I got the bellhousing, adapter and clutch/flywheel from Mummert. I used a stock clutch & brakepedal mount. My problem is how to activate the clutch. Someone put in disc brakes and the brake booster is right in front of the firewall where the clutch linkage should go. I'm thinking that Willwood may have something and I'll use hydraulic clutch activation.

Anyone have ideas or a suggestion?

Thank you
 

jack-in-sac

Active Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Thunderbird Year
1957
Perhaps one option would be to use cable clutch linkage like the modern Mustangs.that seems to be a common change for T-5 users in older cars. Another option might be a hydraulic clutch linkage using a slave cylinder and or a hydraulic throwout bearing. The cable may offer you the most flexibility in mounting the hardware.
Good luck, J.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Perhaps one option would be to use cable clutch linkage like the modern Mustangs.that seems to be a common change for T-5 users in older cars. Another option might be a hydraulic clutch linkage using a slave cylinder and or a hydraulic throwout bearing. The cable may offer you the most flexibility in mounting the hardware.
Good luck, J.
Thank you very much for the cable clutch option. I'll do some research and decide which way to go.
 
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