TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection

TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection 1
Photography by Forte's Parts Connection

TREMEC Elite Distributors are the purveyors of driving excitement. Forte’s Parts Connection was one of the earliest TREMEC Elite Distributors to offer solutions to upgrading from an old 3-speed or 4-speed manual transmission, and for converting from an automatic to manual transmission.

Forte’s Parts Connection was founded nearly 40 years ago and sold Doug Nash 5-speeds and reworked Ford T-3550 5-speeds. Today, Forte’s Parts Connection offers a wide array of products, including offerings from TREMEC, along with crate engines and rear axles. A customer can come to Forte’s Parts Connection and order an entire drivetrain.

We spent some time with the Forte’s Parts Connection business founder and namesake, Mike Forte, to learn more about this TREMEC Elite Distributor.

TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection 2
Mike Forte (left) and the crew at Forte’s Parts Connection.

1. When did the business first open? 

We opened in 1981, selling the old Doug Nash 5-speeds. Soon after that, we started reworking the TR-3550 Ford 5-speed so that it could go into GM vehicles using the stock GM bellhousing.

2. How did you get started in the business?

I started off selling Camaro, Chevelle, Corvette and Firebird parts – both new and used. I continued selling new parts and became a speed shop selling Doug Nash 5-speed transmissions.

TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection 3
The passion Mike Forte (center) had for cars and parts started at a young age, when he was building motorized bicycles and working on lawnmower engines.

3. What started your passion for cars and working on them? 

When I was a young boy, my dad would do a tune-up. He would rev the engine to be sure the points were adjusted correctly. I liked the sound. I played with lawnmower engines and built many motorized bicycles before I was 12 years old. Before I turned 13, I purchased a 1961 Ford Sunliner convertible with a 292 Y-block. I pulled the engine out and rebuilt it.

4. What’s your most memorable personal car? 

A 1968 Z/28 that I still have today. I raced it on the track. It was the first car that I did (or anyone else for that matter) a TREMEC TR-3550 conversion on.

5. What do you think the real allure of a manual transmission is?  

Drive it slow or drive it hard – a manual transmission gives you the control you want. Plus, you can choose your launch rpm and shift when you want.

TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection 4
Forte’s Parts Connection was the pioneer of the forward-shifter assembly for the TKO 5-speed, which made it more compatible with early muscle cars with the factory center console.

6. What kinds of services and products are you offering today?

Almost everything. Besides TREMEC products, we sell crate engines, rear axles and custom-built engines. We also specialize in muscle car repairs. In addition, we offer parts for people building Factory Five roadsters.

7. What’s your favorite TREMEC product? 

Magnum 6-speed and TKO 5-speed. Either the TKO or Magnum 6-speed are a huge improvement over a 3- or 4-speed without an overdrive, and that includes non-overdrive automatics

8. What kind of advice do you give to customers considering an upgrade to a TREMEC transmission?   

Do it! It’s the one single change that will forever improve the dynamics of your car or truck.

9. The 5- or 6-speed, which one is your favorite?

Either is a great way to go. It all depends on the needs of the customer, what they want to do and their budget.

10. Autocross, dragstrip, or twisty country road? Which is your favorite for enjoying a manual transmission?

On track, at speed, in a road race car – one of the best ways to enjoy how exciting and fun it is to drive something with a manual transmission.

TREMEC Elite Distributor Spotlight – Forte’s Parts Connection 5
This is a Forte’s Parts Connection prepped and modified TREMEC being mounted behind a vintage Hall-Scott Indy race engine.

11. What’s been the most interesting TREMEC installation you’ve ever done or sold a TREMEC transmission for? 

We prepped a specially modified TREMEC transmission for a 1917 Indy race car with a Hall-Scott engine.

12. What TREMEC-equipped vehicles do you own personally?

Currently, I own a Factory Five Racing Challenge Car, 1968 Z/28 and 1970 Chevelle.    

Forte’s Parts Connection can be contacted at 508-875-0016 or through its website, fortesparts.com.

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