Q: Greg, I know you did some racing in the past, so how about a recommendation for my street/strip muscle car.
Should I run a manual or an automatic in my now being rebuilt 1993 Camaro LT1?
It has a manual, but I'll need a new one as it has over 125,000 miles on it and I had some problems anyway.
My friends tell me to put in an automatic if I'm serious about the racing part of this car. However, I'll drive on street during the week, and really like to shift. I enjoy your articles in Auto Round-Up, Performance Racing Industry Magazine and National Speed Sport News. Hal M., Michigan.
A: Hal, first, thanks for the nice comments. As for the transmission, to run a manual or an automatic is a personal choice.
However, if you are going to race seriously in bracket competition trying to win money, here are my recommendations.
Automatic transmissions are indeed the popular choice mainly for consistency reasons.
If you decide to run an automatic on the street and strip, make sure someone doesn't talk you into a drag race only, very high stall converter, which causes lots of heat inside that tranny. A 3000 stall should be fine for your double duty use.
Companies like ATI (www.atiperformanceproducts.com) supply transmissions and converters, so check the website and there are others, too, like TCI. (www.tciauto.com). Also, don't forget a transmission cooler, too.
If you are out for fun and love to shift, then go with the manual because there's nothing better than getting the win light in a car with a stick. If you're thinking a manual, (which will always be my first love) check out Richmond's new 5-speed OD tranny on their website, www.richmondgear.com --it's a true piece of art that will withstand lots of power.
You'll also need a new clutch and pressure plate, and a line lock to hold you on the starting line.
Finally, don't forget to take a serious look at the strength of your rear end. For some reason, GM put a smaller, weak 10-inch rear in the F Body Camaro/Firebird (1993-2002) while hooking it to powerful small block engines (LT1 and LS1).
Companies like Strange (www.strangeengineering.net)) and Moser (www.moserengineering.com) come quickly to mind, and can eliminate what sure looks like a coming rear-end problem the more horsepower and torque you send back there, especially if you choose the manual tranny. If you can't afford a new rear (they'll run about $2,300 complete), at least get some beefier gears for that weaker F Body rear.
I ran Richmond gears with Strange axles in my Vega econ-funny car with an ATI Turbo tranny/race converter back in 1979-80, and never hurt a thing in 250 hard runs down the quarter-mile. The reason these companies are still around is because they make products that work.
New Richmond gears with the installation kit and some Richmond synthetic gear oil will run you about $300 or so, so check a dealer near you or visit the website.
Good luck and let me know which way you go.