TREMEC-equipped Day-Dreaming at Gateway Classic Cars

If you enjoy classic cars, you may have spent time as a kid looking at a display rack filled with Hot Wheels and/or Matchbox diecasts that helped you live out automotive fantasies long before being old enough to get your driver’s license. One of the modern adult equivalents of that childhood experience is visiting a classic car dealership like Gateway Classic Cars to see the assortment of classic cars and trucks along with other specialty vehicles. But these don’t fit in an easy-to-carry case when it’s time to go home.
Walking up and down the rows we spotted some factory #TREMECequipped cars along with some muscle cars retrofitted with one of our modern manual transmissions. And we fantasized about how cool others would be if they were converted to a TREMEC transmission.
Gateway Classic’s Paul Kazmarek was nice enough to show us around and answer some questions while looking at inventory of inspiring classic cars for sale. Here are the highlights.

We’ll start things off by going way outside the box. Packard was one of the most innovative car designers and manufacturers before World War II. Unfortunately, the company saw a rapid decline in its automotive presence after the war, even though it still built great cars that were known for comfort and smooth driving. This 1953 Packard Clipper still has its original 288 cid flat-head straight-eight for power with a Packard Ultramatic transmission that featured one of the first ever factory lockup torque converters. We would keep the straight-eight and its silky smoothness and swap to a TREMEC TKX 5-speed transmission to liven things up.

There is just something about a big Buick that makes a grandiose automotive statement. Before Chevrolet debuted its revolutionary OHV V8 in 1955, Buick had its 264 cid OHV Fireball V8 that was a top performer for 1954. Another classic that’s prime for a TREMEC transmission swap, but we think this car would be fun with a Buick engine with more performance potential like a big 1960s Wildcat V8?

Both of these are Ford Skyliners, with a 1958 model on the left and a 1957 on the right. Like Chevrolet, Ford saw significant style changes from one model year to another in the 1950s, and also mechanical changes. The Ford Y-block V8 used in 1957 was replaced by the famous FE series V8 starting in 1958.

Instead of debuting in the fall of 1969, the all-new 1970 model Camaro didn’t hit showrooms until February of 1970 due to a strike that seriously delayed production changeover from the 1969 model. While the Z28 with the new LT-1 V8 garnered most of the performance attention, the SS350 was the volume performance model with a 300-horsepower L-48 V8 that, unlike the Z28, you could get air conditioning. This one, painted in the eye-catching Daytona Yellow, just needs the boring automatic replaced with a TREMEC 5-speed or 6-speed transmission to be perfect.

Here’s a manual transmission oddball. Pontiac was always known for marching to a different performance beat than the other GM divisions. And this bred a few oddities over the years. One of them was the base 3-speed (instead of 4-speed) manual transmission for the 1972 GT and GTO package. This would only be available a few years before someone woke up and questioned the strategy of keeping this option around. This 1972 Lemans GT is so equipped, which means its 400 V8 is dying for a TREMEC TKX 5-speed upgrade!

Is a 1976 AMC Matador truly a classic car? It may be most famously known for its movie debut as a flying car in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” with Christopher Lee behind the wheel and Tattoo from “Fantasy Island” riding shotgun. This one has the AMC 4.2 inline-six (the one that Jeep CJ guys build monuments to) bolted to an automatic. This might be fun to drop in a Gen III Hemi with a Magnum 6-speed transmission or a 401 AMC V8 and TREMEC TKX 5-speed for a nod to AMC’s more muscular models.

We’re not just coloring outside the lines now, we’ve gone out of the coloring book and onto the wall. Here’s a 1976 Vega Cosworth. Forget the ho-hum typical V8 swap. Go with either a turbo 2.7L 4-cylinder from the current Chevrolet Silverado, or maybe the new LT-based 4.3L V6 and add boost. Either way, a TREMEC TKX 5-speed transmission would literally fit perfectly. You’d have killer power-to-weight ratio that would make it a serious giant killer, which is what made the Vega so popular as a drag race car in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 4th Gen Camaro Z28 sent a shock through the manual transmission performance world with the new T-56 6-speed bolted to the Gen II LT1 V8. The 1993-1997 Z28s are much maligned and treated as lepers by enthusiasts. The upside is that they don’t cost as much as the later models. And the LT-1 while not putting out as much power as the later LS1 was a stronger engine for bottom end output. They and they respond just as well to regular performance mods such as a newer LS swap and TREMEC Magnum F 6-speed transmission that was designed specifically for these cars. And for the full experience, this 1994 Z28 is T-top equipped!

What was the best modern factory performance vehicle with a TREMEC TR-6060 6-speed? There are multiple contenders for the title, with one of the hardest hitting being the 5th generation Camaro ZL1. Packing the supercharged 6.2L LSA V8 pumping out 580 horsepower, the car featured suspension and other performance improvements to make it the most powerful and highest performance Camaro of the time.