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Automatics are boring. Let's face it, stabbing the clutch and shifting the gears is the essence of performance driving. Automatic transmissions certainly have their benefits, and we enjoyed ours thoroughly, and were impressed with how it responded to minor modifications such as a shift kit and higher stall converter. However, as we had always planned from the moment we bought the '88 LX, the time has come for the AOD tobe replaced with a T5 manual.

We performed the swap for several reasons including the fun factor. We wanted a performance gain, not only from better gearing in the T5, but also due to the less parasitic loss, not to mention the weight loss. An AOD is roughly 40lbs heavier than the T5. Furthermore we hope the T5 will result in better fuel economy, due to the lower overdrive rpms as a result of the lower gear ratio and by eliminating the slippage of the non-lockup converter.

Performing a T5 swap in a late-model Mustang is very easy. In order to reduce assembly line costs, Ford setup the FOX platform to accept either the AOD or the T5 with minimal parts differences or chassis modifications. The starter, driveshaft, crossmember, transmission mount and speedo-cable are all interchangeable.


Other than acquiring the T5 itself, the pedal assembly, the clutch parts, and the console plate and boot, there is not much else that is needed, other than a spare weekend to perform the job. It is important to mention that T5 cars used a different EEC-IV processor than AOD cars. It is not necessary to change to a manual processor. In fact, it is recommended that you don't because the manual processor requires a wiring harness that is not found in the automatic cars. Without this harness the manual computer cannot complete the self-tests, meaning you can't "pull" diagnostic trouble codes. If you simply leave the automatic processor in place, the self-tests and codes will function properly.

The actual swap is fairly simple to perform, and will take anywhere from 10-16 hours, depending on your experience and how many friends show up to give you a hand. We actually installed the pedal assembly months before we installed the T5, just to get a head start. Believe it or not, the pedal assembly is probably the most difficult part of the entire swap! It took about three hours to complete, including rerouting the speedo cable, which on automatic cars is routed through the clutch cable hole. The rest of the swap consists of removing the AOD and associated parts, and then essentially performing a clutch job and installing the T5.


Finding all the parts is not all that tough either. We got lucky and found someone parting out a low-mileage 1992 Mustang in the local classified. We struck a deal on all the T5 parts, including the transmission for $500.

Perhaps the most sought-after parts are the console cover, rubber insulator, and leather boot. We were fortunate that the donor car had these intact and in great shape. When taking the pedal assembly, be sure to get all the switches mounted on it. Take every little piece of hardware you can, since many of the small parts are Ford pieces that are not sold anymore, or are very expensive.

(Clutch Pedal Installation.)
 
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Our '88 LX started out as a plain jane AOD (inset). Just the mere image of a clutch pedal and stick between the seats changes the perception of the car from a commuter to a sports car.
 

Selecting the proper clutch is a key ingredient of the T5 swap. You don't want to skimp here, otherwise you'll be doing the work all over again We talked to the clutch experts at SPEC (Star Performance Engineered Clutches), and they recommended their Stage 1 clutch, PN:SF481. Their stage 1 clutch will hold 300 horsepower with no problems, yet allow for chatterless engagement and low rpm driveability.

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