T5 Ranchero Swap
Jeff Baker, Bremerton, WA: I have a '64 Ford Ranchero with a 289 and a T10 four-speed. I'm doing this project on a budget and have some questions. Can I swap an unmodified T5 using a Mustang kit? Some Web sites say you need to put a different tailshaft on your trans to make the shifter fit in the stock hole. I would rather not do that, since a modified trans will cost more. I don't care about modifying the floor, but I would like to keep my bench seat. Is this possible? Could you tell me the difference between where the T10 shifter mounts and where the T5 does?
Jeff Smith: We decided to find an expert on this question, Jeff, and spoke with Bruce Couture, who owns Modern Driveline, a company specializing in T5 swaps for early Mustangs and Fords. Most of the critical information concerning your swap can be found on his Web site, and we suggest you spend some time there to extract all the gritty little details. But the short answer is that the shifter placement of a stock Ford T5 transmission places the shifter too far back in the chassis, which would then interfere with your bench seat. Plus, the T5 shifter ends up coming through the floor right where there is a shifter floor support, which, if removed, would weaken the floor. Adding to this dilemma is the T5's deep input shaft that adds another 31/44 inch to this conversion compared with a typical T10 four-speed.
The simplest, easiest swap is to go with one of Modern Driveline's complete conversion kits that include everything you'll need to bolt all this together. These kits retail for $2,600 and up, depending upon the options required, which obviously does not make this a budget approach. According to Couture, using one of his T5 Front Shift converted transmissions will move the shifter forward roughly 8 inches to clear the bench seat. This still requires a custom crossmember, clutch linkage, speedometer cable, and probably a shortened driveshaft. A new T5 trans with the shifter conversion is $1,595, but this makes it much easier to swap without major sheetmetal surgery. It's also possible to have Modern Driveline convert an existing T5 over to a front-shift model that would be considerably less expensive. If you haven't purchased a trans yet, it might be a good idea to read our T5 rebuild story in the September issue for transmission and gear-ratio applications.
Couture's other recommendation is to go with the T5 cable-linkage-style bellhousing. This system is easy to install, less complex than a hydraulic system, and makes for a clean installation using Fox Mustang-style parts.
Obviously, none of these ideas involves bargain-basement finances, but there doesn't seem to be an inexpensive way to perform this swap. Even if you swap to bucket seats or modify the bench seat, the shifter is still roughly 8 inches farther back than stock, which would be awkward at best.
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