No bones about it, the second Golden Age of Hot Rodding is upon us — the ’60s and ’70s were a sweet spot in the performance automotive history books, but stop for a second and look around. These are unprecedented times. Cars come from the factory with over 700 horsepower and a warranty, and aftermarket support and go-fast technology are so ripe that you can literally build vehicles nobody knew were possible just ten years ago, like a classic muscle truck. What’s that? It’s a classic truck that’s outfitted with modern performance components so it maintains the classic look, but kills tires, carves corners, hauls wood, cruises to shows, and runs down the highway at 70 mph just like a modern performance vehicle…only it looks a lot cooler. It will also be powered by a Gen 3 Coyote Aluminator engine. Want a truck that can run 12’s at the strip, hang with sports cars at an autocross, and can still haul a load to the dump, all while looking killer? Welcome to Project F Word.
“I wanted to build a Pro Touring-inspired muscle truck around my 1969 shortbed Ford F-100 that featured a modern drivetrain, a Tremec Magnum transmission, a stout rearend, track-inspired suspension, and big brakes while preserving the original patina,” owner Ivan Korda said. If Ivan’s name sounds familiar, he is a member of the Ford Muscle team who also owns Project Boosted Coyote. While he is used to driving a high-powered Coyote on the drag strip, it’s been a while since he had a corner carver.
As you know, the ’67-’72 Ford F-100 is easily one of the best looking and coolest classic trucks ever made, with its square body and tight lines that make it the quintessential “classic truck.” But let’s be honest, there was nothing muscle about them. OK, some came with 390ci FE engines from the factory, but they were low-revving work variants, and the trucks as a whole handled and rode like a chuck-wagon and the brakes? What brakes? Their C6 or three-on-the-tree transmissions were anything but performance-oriented, and about the only thing they did quickly was scare you if you took a corner above the posted speed limit. They were trucks — cool trucks — but certainly not muscle trucks.
In other words, performance was never used in the same sentence as “F-100” back in the day, which is why, in order to take something of such humble beginnings and transform it into a true performer, it means turning to the right companies for the right parts.
Three Pedals and a Legendary Box
After finding a clean truck with solid bones not far from home, we started the process of building our Pro Touring muscle truck by addressing the biggest thing preventing us from any sort of spirited driving: the tired ol’ C6 transmission. With that jettisoned, we sought out the most engaging transmission on the market, a manual, because let’s be honest, nothing is more fun than a manual transmission. But it couldn’t be any ol’ manual…it had to be something special, something precise, something indestructible.
“Tremec transmissions are the best in the business, and as fantastic as the TKO 5 speed is, for this build, the Tremec Magnum made the most sense for auto crossing, performance driving, and cruising,” Jeff Kauffman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Silver Sport Transmissions (SST), said.
Nope, that’s no typo! Thanks to the top-notch engineering of SST, you can now buy an entire bolt-in Tremec transmission swap-kit for your ’67-’72 and ’73-’77 Ford F-100 trucks. They went the extra mile to make sure everything fits like a modern factory component, so you won’t struggle during the install or make a million trips to the machine shop to modify ill-fitting parts.
More on the killer swap kit in a sec; first, how about that legendary transmission? As I’m sure you already know, the Tremec Magnum, aka T56 Magnum, is based on the TR-6060 that came in the S197 GT500s and the C6 ZR1s, just to name a few, but it’s been outfitted with even more upgrades so it can handle 700 lb-ft of torque, shift like butter, and not lock you out of a high-RPM shift — it’s even available with different gearsets to best suit your needs. It features things like triple-cone synchronizers on the First to Fourth gears and double-cone synchronizers on Fifth, Sixth, and Reverse. The syncros have also been narrowed for a stronger, wider gear face that’s significantly wider than a standard T56. The wider gear faces allow for greater torque capacity, high-RPM shift capabilities, and shorter throws. It also uses burly 26-spline-input and 31-spline-output shafts to transfer torque into forward motion. You get the point, it’s the best in the biz.
A True Bolt-In Tremec Swap Kit
The best transmission in the world means nothing if it doesn’t fit your application correctly. After all, your vehicle is only as strong as its weakest link. Oftentimes, the weakest link is the supporting cast in modern transmission swap kits, like a universal slave cylinder mount and a pedal adapter that never fits correctly because it wasn’t designed with a specific make or model in mind.
“We pride ourselves on doing it the right way, spending lots of time with our design engineers throughout the R&D process, making sure everything fits correctly for each application, as our swap kits feature application-specific parts designed with 3D printed prototypes to ensure everything is spot-on,” Kauffman explained.
That’s right — they have an in-house engineering team design the kits on actual test vehicles so they fit as they should, and if a specific kit needs a specific part engineered, they do it. In other words, not all of the swap kits use, say, the same firewall slave cylinder mount. If a kit calls for new parts, SST designs them.
“We’re all about using the right parts for each kit, so sometimes that means using parts we’ve already designed, or even OEM pieces, and other times it means making entirely new things. For instance, since Project F word was originally an automatic, we sourced the factory clutch pedal from our friend Brandon Osborne, an F-100 collector, and the transmission crossmember from our ’73-’77 swap kits since they were both the best options for that part of the kit, but we also had to design a completely new firewall mount for the clutch master cylinder,” Kauffman explained.
If a part fits well during the installation in your garage, falling into place without hassle or modification, that isn’t by accident. In fact, that likely means a lot of time and effort went into its design.
“The clutch pedal action is amazing. The take-up point is in the middle, near the bottom, right where you want it, and the pedal action is smooth and linear — it’s so good I almost forget I’m driving a 50-year-old truck,” Korda said, after taking the truck for a spin with the completed transmission swap.
“We spend a lot of time designing the firewall mounts for each kit, since the stroke of the master-cylinder piston assembly has to be at the right angle, with the right amount of travel, and clutch pedal travel also has to be just right as well — there’s a lot that goes into getting it right,” Kauffman explained. Additionally, SST employed stainless steel braided pressure hoses and heim joints for ultra-precise function. It doesn’t hurt that it’s nice to look at, too.
Speaking of going the extra mile, by now you already know that SST prides itself on getting it right, which is why it comes as no surprise that when it came to designing the hydraulic release bearing (slave cylinder) for this application, well, they went well beyond the extra mile.
“We use high grade bearings that have been tested for over 300,000 miles and 1,000,000 clutch strokes, which means you not only get a long-lasting part, but one that also works extremely well with tight tolerances and no slop,” Kauffman explained.
An Elite Supporting Cast
You already know the transmission and the swap-specific parts in this kit are top notch, but what about all the other smaller but important bits? Oftentimes, it’s the small things that companies cheap out on, and it’s these small things that can also leave us stranded on the side of the road. Ever cheaped out on some inexpensive hardware only to have it shear off after a good launch or a hard power shift? Funny how a $1.00 part can turn into a $1,000 problem. If you’ve ever been stranded as the result of a cheap part, you’ll never make that mistake again! And thankfully everything, down to the bolts and hardware, are up to the task and included with the kit.
“It’s important that we include all of the needed nuts, bolts, hardware, templates, and everything customers need for the install, and that everything is high quality to match the rest of the components,” Kauffman said.
Speaking of important, all this hardware ain’t much without the right clutch, and by right, we mean one that’s strong enough for our application but civil enough for Friday night cruises.
“We recommended one of our SST Advanced Friction STR 10.5-inch single-disc clutches for this build since it can handle 450 lb-ft, has easy pedal pressure and smooth street characteristics – thanks to full face organic friction material and a spring hub design with a Marcel cushion. It’s great on the street and for performance driving too,” Kauffman said.
An SST billet steel flywheel joined the party, providing enough heft to make street driving easy while also remaining light enough to make rev-matching a breeze. A Quick Time scattershield (bellhousing) houses the clutch assembly, and after power makes its way through the Tremec box, it travels down through a custom Dynotech Engineering driveshaft.
There were other important parts included in the kit that are often overlooked — that is until you hit that roadblock during the install only to realize you’ll have to order more parts and wait! They included the reverse lockout control module (so the reverse lockout mechanism works like a factory unit) and the correct speedometer gear so we’d know exactly how fast we were going. It’s all about the details!
How’s it Fit?
SST gives you all the templates so you can precisely drill holes wherever they’re needed, and if the instructions or dedicated tech support isn’t enough help, they even have a pile of YouTube videos that walk you through the transmission installation processes step-by-step. How’s that for helpful?
We won’t jump into a nitty-gritty installation here, since that can be found in the ensuing install video, but in short, it isn’t all that hard. If you have an automatic-equipped truck, you’ll have to remove the stock pedal assembly before using the supplied SST templates in order to drill the necessary holes in the firewall to mount the clutch master cylinder. After sourcing a stock clutch pedal, SST again gives you precise instructions on where to drill the upper portions so it can be connected to the firewall master cylinder and then the clutch pedal height can be set. After that, you can dive under the truck to (again) use the SST templates to drill the crossmember holes before installing the hydraulic release bearing (slave cylinder), the clutch, bellhousing, and finally the transmission and driveshaft. After that, use the last of the SST templates to cut out the shifter plate so you can mount the short-throw SST shifter and shift knob. Then you can row the gears and burn tires!