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1968 Chevy Camaro - Country Honk, Camaro Revival Part 3

Transmission, Rearend & Driveshaft

Terry Stevens Jan 1, 2006

There are lots of choices out there when it comes time to select your transmission supplier. Keisler Automotive Engineering clearly stands at the top by supplying a complete kit for each transmission conversion. Keisler transmission kits offer a choice of two five- or six-speed trannys suited to the engine's output. Keisler also includes all of the components needed to install and support the transmission and transmit the power to the rearend. For the Hotchkis Performance Camaro, we chose its T-56 with the 0.80 and 0.62:1 Fifth and Sixth gear, particularly since it has the 2.97 Low gear that will complement the 3.73:1 rear axle setup.

Note: A good rule of thumb for a street-driven car with a moderate engine is to multiply the First gear ratio by the rearend ratio; for a quick launch on the street the result should be in the 10-11 range. (In our setup it equates to: 2.97 X 3.73 = 11.07.) That means shove-you-into-the-seat acceleration, dudes and dudettes, and out on the highway you get the fuel-saving equivalent of a 2.31 rear gear. Depending on tire diameter, the motor will be turning less than 2,000 rpm at legal highway speeds. (Check out the unique Keisler Speed Analyzer for your tire and transmission selection results.)

We elected Larry Pollard to inspect our stock 10-bolt rearend. Wear wasn't excessive, but the open 2.71 gear just did not get the juices flowing. Larry's built rearends for NASCAR and short-track racers in the central North Carolina region, and since he is a competitive short-track racer himself, he knows how to make one that will provide years of dependable service in a street car. He wanted to rebuild the stock case with the 8.2-inch 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion and tie them to an Eaton posi unit.

Hang with us through the photos and captions and you will soon be rowing the Hurst shifter in that T-56 with ease. It really is as smooth as silk!


Keisler Automotive designs its PerfectFit kits with everything needed to upgrade an automatic transmission- car (as ours was) to manual shift, or just renew your worn-out brake and clutch pedal assembly. Check out this application-unique master cylinder that has the proper angle for installation, plus hardware and electrical connectors for the backup lights and reverse lockout.

The First-Gen Camaro is unique in its outie speedometer hump. As you can see, the hump would require some modification to the mounting plate if it were to be used with the mechanical speedometer drive that was on the car. Keisler techs worked with us for the best solution.

Checking inside for clearance shows that everything will bolt up much better with a flat firewall. Therefore, we elected to eliminate the speedo hump. Normally, this mock-up would be done prior to the application of primer, but we were multiple maniacs doing this car in six months and had only limited manpower.

The cutoff wheel makes short work of the firewall, but it sure blisters the primer!

We had to mount the master-cylinder reservoir but had limited space to do it. We utilized one of the pre-dimpled locations on the firewall for one of the mounting bolts and we drilled the other one...

...Initially, we used stainless nuts and bolts to attach the reservoir, but if you ever have to remove it, the cowl panel at the base of the windshield must also be removed...

...We opted for nutserts and stainless button bolts to allow easy servicing. Note the Detroit Speed windshield wiper with delay feature.

Checking for clearance revealed...

...that one of the attaching bolts on the power-brake booster would be too close to the inlet on the clutch master cylinder.

Moving back inside, we see that the master cylinder and brake pushrods exist in harmony with the new electrical junction box from Painless Performance. (The harness is ready to be uncoiled.)

Note how Bobby "stitched" the weld. He also made one circuit of spot-welds and then let the metal cool to avoid warping before he went on to the next circuit of spot-welds. Slick, huh?...

...The key to a good paint job is smoothing the irregularities as you go.

AJ, Larry's assistant, installed the ring-and-pinion and the Eaton posi unit. After coating the gears with marking paint, AJ torqued the bearing caps to the proper specification,...

...then adjusted the backlash and spacing with a dial indicator. Larry and AJ also installed Moser axles and new bearings throughout.

Once again, only professionals work on certain parts. This is a textbook example of how differential ring-and-pinion gears should mesh.

Pictures are worth at least a thousand words, so I will just say that the LP Gear rear, Baer brakes, Flowmaster exhaust (expertly hung by Gene Childress at Muffler Master, Kannapolis, NC), Detroit Speed stainless fuel tank, Keisler T56, Classic Tube and Street & Performance brake and fuel lines, Hotchkis Performance suspension pieces, powdercoated parts from Robbie Morrow, plus stuff from Year One and Rick's First Gen Camaros all look good together! That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!

Keisler's kit includes all the electrical pigtails for the backup light and reverse lockout; the LS-2 wiring harness also includes these connectors. Here is the hydraulic clutch with internal slave cylinder prior to the bellhousing installation.

Keisler's new bellhousing included in the PerfectFit transmission kits has superb fit and finish.

Kurt Binkley, who works for one of the local NASCAR teams, attached the bellhousing to the transmission plate (another Keisler exclusive),...

...then installed the hydraulic clutch to the mounting plate. He torqued all fittings to Keisler-supplied specs with either Loc-Tite or anti-seize compound (steel into aluminum) applied to the threads...

...(Do not apply excessive torque to aluminum threads.)

Although Keisler supplies a braided-steel line and block-off plate, Joe VanSickle and Jack Hastings at Goodridge wanted to help. They fabricated a #4AN line to their 45-degree #4AN fitting to join the metric slave/hydraulic clutch to the master cylinder.


Hotchkis Performance
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Auto Meter
Sycamore, IL 60178
Baer Brakes
Phoenix, AZ
Classic Tube
Lancaster, NY
Street & Performance
Mena, AR 71953
Rick's Camaros
Athens, GA 30601
Detroit Speed
Mooresville, NC 28115
Livengood Fabrication
Landis, NC 28088
(704) 902-8179
Custom Powder Coating
Enochville, NC 28081
(980) 932-7722
Keisler Engineering
Rockford, TN 37853
Goodridge Mooresville
Mooresville, NC 28117

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