Ugrading classic musclecars is one of the hottest trends in the hobby today. More cars are being modified for "show and go" than ever before. Car owners are taking the necessary steps to make their car not only look good, but drive even better than their late-model daily-driver parked in the driveway. This is one reason the Hot Rod Power Tour has become wildly popular.
Driving a musclecar with steep gears and a TorqueFlite or an A-833 transmission on today's interstates at a sustained high rpm quickly brings several problems to light: driver fatigue, poor fuel economy, and reduced engine and accessory life. Some enthusiasts even keep a spare differential setup with taller 2.78 or 3.23 gears, just to improve this situation. But who wants to swap rearends just so they can drive their car? And what if the rearend is a Dana? When a tall highway ratio is installed, acceleration is quickly sacrificed.
Enter the Keisler Engineering five- and six-speed transmissions for classic cars. Keisler has designed a transmission kit for every popular musclecar, street rod, and truck, including a T56 six-speed for the Dakota R/T. A year ago, we installed a Keisler A-Body five-speed kit in a '70 Duster with great success. what makes the Keisler kit such a good swap for any car or truck is the use of a modern-technology Tremec TKO transmission. with its bigger gears, more efficient and stronger tapered roller-bearings, chromoly steel gears and shafts, the TKO is as tough as it is functional. Keisler engineers the transmission to fit each application and supplies a complete line of installation parts, including the balanced chromoly driveshaft. With a choice of a 3.27 or 2.92 first gear, it provides better around-town drivability, plus butt-in-the-seat acceleration at the stab of the throttle. At the top end, a choice of .82:1 (18 percent overdrive) or .68:1 (32 percent overdrive) ratio offers low rpm in fifth gear, bringing the rpm down to normal levels at 65-80 mph and perfectly meeting the needs of anyone traveling over 55 mph. fuel economy is vastly improved, an added bonus. Keisler states numerous customers are reporting a 30-50 percent fuel-economy increase over an A-833, and a 50-85 percent increase when changing from a Torqueflite automatic to the TKO five-speed. Table 1 shows driving approximately 60,000 miles would pay for the swap alone, not including the reduced wear and tear on the engine, which is a major consideration.