From the moment Ford introduced the 2020 Shelby GT500, enthusiasts were tantalized by the prospect of a 760-horsepower Mustang that could do it all and do it well. A crucial part of that flexibility is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) that benefits from sophisticated electronic controls that deliver swift shifting that reacts to the driving conditions.
Despite the benefits of this arrangement, there were still purists who wanted a manual transmission option. Last year, HPJ Performance of Belleville, Illinois, announced the availability of a comprehensive swap package that would supplant the factory DCT with the tried and true TREMEC Magnum XL six-speed manual transmission.
“The biggest challenge with swapping the GT500 by far has been the can bus system getting rid of the DCT. The physical part of manual swapping has been done on S550s and S197s forever with Turbo 400 swaps, so getting through that’s not was not the biggest deal,” Greg Connoyer, Mechanic at HPJ Performance, explains. “The biggest deal has been fighting all the modules and all the background stuff in the car so basically what we do is obviously pull the DCT out, fit a Magnum, SFI bellhousing, and we have a couple of clutch options, but the Mantic triple disc is what we typically go with.”
The kit is rounded out by a new crossmember with poly bushings; a TREMEC or MGW shifter; a factory Ford pedal assembly; Ford hydraulics, and a performance driveshaft. A factory manual transmission console trimmed with a leather or suede shift boot rounds out the look, while a custom calibration makes the manual combination seamless.
“We have our own wiring harness modules all that stuff we made so it’s plug and play and we have a few custom interior pieces that really finish everything off,” Connoyer adds. “Right now we are the only people that manual-swap the GT500s. It’s obviously not really a super-popular thing for guys to get rid of DCT but it’s way more of an enthusiast modification.”
While a human would be hard-pressed to out-shift the DCT, there is something about the feel of working the clutch, banging gears, and being in complete control of the driving experience.
“A manual-swap 2020 really connects you with the vehicle experience. The DCT shifts fast. It’s an unreal transmission, but nothing feels better than rowing the gears yourself. Driving is an experience,” Sam Salah, co-owner of HPJ Performance, adds. “This Shelby is, in my opinion, the greatest Shelby ever made and should have had a manual. It really just, to me, completes the experience with this car.”
If you were a DCT naysayer, there are no more excuses. You can pick up a 2020-2022 GT500, swap in a six-speed, and drive it like you stole it.