1973 Chevy Camaro - Transmission Swap - 5 Deep

Modern-Day Fun In An Old-School Package

0810chp_01_z 1973_chevy_camaro_th350_swap Classic_motorsport_group 1/21

Quick NotesWhat we didSwapped the TH350 for a Classic Motorsports Tremec TKO five-speed

Bottom LineThe commute just got better

Cost (APPROX)$3,600 to $4,800

Automatics work great if you want to check out the view during road trips or if you're trying to lock down those e.t.'s with your 1320 brawler. However, there's something to be said for manually shifting a street machine; fact is, you're in total control.

Last month, we introduced you to our latest second-gen Camaro and even outfitted it with a few personal touches. This month we dive head-first into transforming our '73 into the ultimate street machine, trekking out to Classic Motorsports Group in Carlsbad, California.

If you didn't already know, CMG is known for its incredibly complete five-speed conversions and offers three kits (Basic, Deluxe, and Elite) which allow you to pick and choose based on what fits your application and budget. If you're looking to simply upgrade your factory four-speed Muncie, you'll find the conversion can be made with minimal components. And whether you're going for the full-tilt package or tossing the automatic in favor of a stick, a number of options are available, ranging from clutch upgrades to an all-new bellhousing, a hydraulic throwout bearing system, and a 3-inch-diameter driveshaft, along with your choice of shifter assemblies and handles.

Our conversion from a factory automatic to a five-speed required cutting a hole in the tunnel to allow the stick of the Tremec to come through. Additionally, we needed to purchase the clutch pedal assembly and shifter boot, and we had to cut the carpet for the shifter. If this is something you've been interested in doing for yourself, know that the CMG's Elite package is the most complete system out there. Truth be told, it'll take a little elbow grease to get the job done for a first-timer, but it's definitely doable in a weekend. And should you run into a snag, CMG's tech line has the experience and the know-how to get you through your conversion.

PerspectiveThis was our first major modification to the '73 and one we'll never regret. CMG recommended we take it easy for the first 500 miles, so our first leisurely cruise took us through a series of winding turns in our local canyons, giving us the perfect opportunity to row the gears and just get a better feel of the new setup. While we were told that the first few shifts would feel a little tight and a bit on the notchy side, it certainly wasn't the case-at least not in our minds. It was quite the opposite. Each shift felt smooth and went into every gear on command with little effort, and even better, match-revving the rpm on downshifts proved to be solid. Final verdict: The five-speed swap has given the '73 a whole new attitude and feel, and it's every bit more fun to drive.

0810chp_12_z 1973_chevy_camaro_th350_swap Hyudraulic_vs_mechanical 14/21

Hydraulic Vs. Mechanical
If you're debating which route to go, then pay attention: If it's simply a desire for easier pedal effort, the hydraulic throwout bearing will not be the end-all cure. We had the opportunity to feel both, and when matched to the proper pressure plate with the correct pedal geometry, you can expect both to operate similarly. The only difference we noticed is that the hydraulic had a "peak" feel, then depressed fairly quickly, while the mechanical seemed to allow you to feel a wider range of motion.

Something else to consider is the price. CMG offers a trick hydraulic setup with the lines, bearing, master cylinder, and firewall mounting bracket as a $745 upgrade. If you want it solely for the sake of having it, then at least you're being honest with yourself. Where that system comes in handy is if you have limited space and can take advantage of its rather compact package. Another consideration is the headers. Do you have a custom set? Do you have money invested in the coating? Also, automatic-only tubes can potentially cause clearance issues with the mechanical linkage.

0810chp_19_z 1973_chevy_camaro_th350_swap Deluxe_kit 15/21

Total Package
What can you expect in the CMG conversion? Everything you see here, and as we mentioned earlier, you also get your choice of upgrades, such as the beefier driveshaft anytime your powerplant gets in the 500hp range, and choices of clutch and pressure plate assembly, scattershield, flywheels, and pedal assemblies. Should you want the hydraulic throwout bearing over the conventional one, expect to add an extra $745.

If you're simply swapping over your four-speed to a five, you can opt for the Deluxe kit, which comes with your choice of the TKO-500 or the stronger TKO-600, driveshaft, custom crossmember, shift knob, speedo cable, reverse light connector, tranny mount, pilot bearing, hardware kit, and the one-year extended warranty, for $2,695 ($2,755 for the TKO-600). Ultimately, it's a one-stop shop; it's only a matter of choosing the package that fits your needs.

Perspective
This was our first major modification to the '73 and one we'll never regret. CMG recommended we take it easy for the first 500 miles, so our first leisurely cruise took us through a series of winding turns in our local canyons, giving us the perfect opportunity to row the gears and just get a better feel of the new setup. While we were told that the first few shifts would feel a little tight and a bit on the notchy side, it certainly wasn't the case-at least not in our minds. It was quite the opposite. Each shift felt smooth and went into every gear on command with little effort, and even better, match-revving the rpm on downshifts proved to be solid. Final verdict: The five-speed swap has given the '73 a whole new attitude and feel, and it's every bit more fun to drive.

Sources

Classic Motorsports Group
N/A, AK
760-438-2244
www.classicchevy5speed.com
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