“Sucks to suck,” as the saying goes, and it sure as heck does. On the first pass out at our local drag strip — Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California — our completely stock TR-3650 five-speed manual transmission gracefully met its maker.
We say gracefully because it left silently without even a whisper. On that initial pass, we brought our 28×11.50-15LT Mickey Thompson ET Street R bias-ply drag slicks up to temp, set to around 19 psi. It was our first time out to the strip with our new combination, and our heart rates were up.
We dropped the hammer at 3,000 rpm on the launch thanks to an MSD Performance two-step that a friend (and hot shoe on this pass) let us borrow. With our QA1/UPR double-adjustable suspension not even dialed in for the first pass, we spun all the way through first gear to a measly 1.9 60-foot. If you’ll recall, this car still has the factory 3.55 gears in the rearend, so even with the larger 28-inch bias ply tires, our effective gear ratio is still hovering around the 3.40-3.42 mark.
Shiting like a mad man toward the eighth mile, clocking in at 8.8 at more than 80 mph, our driver realized we had lost all of our gears. As we coasted to a 13.4 at 108 mph, we knew something in the car wasn’t happy, and weren’t happy with our results. While we haven’t torn down the transmission, we suspect the factory 10-spline input shaft snapped right off.
If you’re not familiar with the shortcomings of the factory five-speed manual transmission in the early S197s, there are essentially two main weaknesses – a remote-style shifter and a 10-spline input shaft. Owners of the 2005-2010 Mustang GT will be more than familiar with these issues, and it’s not uncommon for enthusiasts to snap this input shaft after bolting on upgrades like a more aggressive clutch, a set of slicks and more than 200 horsepower from a blower.
It’s safe to say, we’re currently in the process of sourcing a Tremec T56 Magnum XL six-speed manual transmission as a one-and-done solution for our street/strip daily, so keep an eye out for that in the near future as we bring you the full installation details.