Tremec's New T-56 Transmission - A Better Mousetrap

Tremec Bumps Performance Up A Few Notches With Their New T-56 Magnum Six-Speed.

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•Technology marches on, and just when we think it can't get any better, it's eventually surpassed by the something superior. This whole concept applies to automotive performance parts just like anything else. When the T-56 was introduced over a decade ago, it was a high-tech smooth-shifting wonder, and before long it was finding its way in early Camaros. But that was back when 500 hp was considered "up there." Since then, everyone, including the OEMs, started ramping up the output of their engines, and before long the original T-56 started to suffer under the strain of the added power, and more importantly, torque.

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But Tremec, manufacturer of the T-56, had a solution-they called it the TR-6060. This new-generation six-speed would be able to easily handle whatever the OEMs could throw at it. While designed for cars like the new Camaro, GT500 Mustang, and Corvette, this new trans would pay huge dividends to hot rodders as well. The one problem Tremec ran into was that the OEM-specific design of the TR-6060 didn't lend itself to being "swap friendly." While the older T-56 used a direct shifter, the TR-6060 incorporated a remote system. It also lacked several features not needed on an OEM unit, but very much desired by the aftermarket. With that in mind, the engineers at Tremec came up with an aftermarket version called the T-56 Magnum. The Magnum combined the easy swapability of the older T-56 with the improved design of the new TR-6060. It was like chocolate and peanut butter-just the right combination for our older Camaros.

With the ability to withstand up to 700 lb-ft. of torque, it can handle all but the most insane powerplants. The direct-mount shifter can be reversed to accommodate various applications, and there's even a mid-shift provision. Triple-cone synchronizers on the first four gears, along with double-cone synchronizers on Fifth and Sixth (as well as reverse), result in smooth and accurate shifts, even at high rpm.

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Tremec also fixed the main complaint we had about the older T-56, namely gearing. On the old model, you had to choose between having a good set of First through Third ratios, or a good set of Fifth and Sixth ratios. Generally, we went with the 2.66 First, 1.78 Second, 1.30 Third, and tolerated the 0.74 Fifth and 0.50 Sixth gear ratios. Don't get us wrong, a 0.50 Sixth gear is great for meeting C.A.F.E. gas mileage standards, but it's far from a performance ratio. And while the Vette gearing would yield a more zippy 0.80 Fifth and 0.62 Sixth gear, the obligatory 2.97 First gear proved incredibly short, especially with 3.90 rear gearing. We, along with others, bitched and Tremec listened. The result is a blending of the best of both gear sets.

The upshot to all of this is a 21st Century six-speed transmission that blends racing technology with smooth-shifting street manners. We wonder how they could possibly make it better, but then again, we've learned that there's always something new right around the corner. But for now, this will definitely fill the needs of virtually any hot rodder.

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