Bang, Shift, Zoom!
An upgraded T56 Magnum that does all the work and gets none of the glory
You’ll have to forgive the title, it’s a bit flashy to get people to pick up the mag and not just skim the pretty pictures.
Everyone expects us to draw the haughty line in the sand and keep tech articles strictly — well, technical. This just might be the case that breaks all exceptions because we literally could not wait to get our new transmission shoved into place and give it the ol’ bangshift, if you catch our drift. It’s really too bad that no one ever sees the transmission; it really does make a massive difference in how your car drives and performs. For that reason, we went right to the top of the heap for ours.
We have been lucky enough to get our hands on quite possibly the strongest and coolest six-speed on the market: the T56 Magnum. Right from the Tremec factory, these killer double overdrive units can handle upwards of 700 lbs-ft of torque and have incredibly positive shifts. These aren’t your typical T56s you find in Corvettes, Vipers, Camaros and some Mustangs. These are beefier and more stout versions of the same thing.
So, you’re probably thinking, “sure guys, but my twin turbo-mega motor makes more than that, gimme some more!” Thankfully, there are places like Rockland Standard Gear out there who offer an even more upgraded version of the Magnum. What they do is they take the Magnum from Tremec, upgrade to carbon rings on gears one through four and slap on a Viper tail shaft. This combo now called a “Tranzilla” along with some RSG magic allows us to run up to 1,000 lbs-ft and 1,200 horsepower, with the correct clutch bits, naturally.
The sobering fact is that these units, the T56 Magnum and the T56 Magnum Tranzilla, while extremely amazing, will set you back just a tad under $3,000 for the Magnum and roughly $4,100 for the T56 Tranzilla. This is all before you shell out for the correct flywheel, clutch and pressure plate! You will most likely have to modify your driveshaft (typically shorten it) and depending on your shifter location, cut a hole in the floor or get a different shifter.
Here’s a little info on our project car so you can keep score. It’s a 1968 Camaro with a Mast LS3 swap that puts out a respectable 600 horsepower and 525 lbs-ft of torque. So do we really need this massive of a transmission right now? Probably not, but in keeping with tradition, we feel that this combination will feel a bit sluggish in short order so a couple power adders might just be the ticket. For now, we have that pesky transmission problem sorted out and we get to keep the clutch pedal, which makes almost any car feel like a race car! We enlisted the help of a good friend, Nate Shaw from One Guys Garage, to help us out. A pizza and a couple old car war stories and we were pretty much done.
One final word before you jump to the photos: you have to use the right oil. Tremec only recommends using the correct oil in their trannies before you go off driving. They told us that they recommend straight Dexron-III right from any parts store. They’ve done a ton of testing and they know for a fact that it works. Anything else and who really knows (and it can void some warranties), so always check with the manufacturer to be doubly safe. Rockland sent us a case of their own synthetic SM150 oil, which they claim works well. Hey, if RSG says we should use it, it can’t be all that bad.
We should also mention that you’ll probably want to set aside a good weekend to get this project done start to finish, keeping in mind the average beer break and factoring for group high-fives. Regardless of how long it takes, it will be well worth it as this may be the very last manual transmission you ever buy.