Modern Driveline Clutch Cable Conversion Kit
Swapping a Tremec T5 overdrive manual transmission into an early Mustang or Falcon (or their Mercury cousins) has never been more popular. We first did this swap in our ’67 Mustang several years ago, but since then countless others have also made the conversion to the modern day five speed for the sake of better fuel economy and faster acceleration.
For many of you the swap was a no-brainer your car was already a manual and you simply purchased the necessary conversion parts, the Tremec T5, and bolted it up. Your mechanical clutch linkage worked just fine, though not nearly as smooth as the cable or hydraulic mechanisms typically found in a late model, T5 equipped, Mustang or Thunderbird.
For some of us the conversion was a little more challenging due to the fact our cars were originally equipped with an automatic transmission. Hence we had to source the rare, and expensive, clutch pedal and associated linkage. Many of us ended up modifying parts from other model years, or scrapping the swap all together. Undoubtedly there are a good number of people still on the sidelines waiting to get into the T5 game, but are unable to due to the growing scarcity of mechanical linkage components for their vehicles.
Regardless of which group you are in you can now bring your early Ford another step closer to the ease, practicality, and fun of an overdrive five speed. Modern Driveline has spent the last several years perfecting a clutch cable conversion kit for ’65-’68 Mustangs and Cougars and ’60-’65 Falcons and Comets. The kit replaces all the original mechanical linkage between the pedal and the bellhousing. The only stock piece required is a clutch pedal.
The cable conversion kit is designed to work with any of the late model transmissions using a cable actuated bellhousing (i.e. Tremec T5, T56, TKO)
In theory the cable kit could work with any manual transmission, however because the early Toploader and Borg Warner’s use a “push” style clutch fork, the bellhousings have no provision for mounting the cable actuated fork.
There is no comparison between the pedal effort of an early mechanical clutch and that of the cable clutch mechanism found in newer cars. Cable clutches offer a huge reduction in friction and force required to depress the clutch. Furthermore they are much easier to setup and adjust than their mechanical counterparts. Combined with a late-model diaphragm clutch the pedal effort of a cable is nearly half that of a long style pressure plate and “z” bar linkage.
The beauty of a cable is that is takes up very little space, and offer plenty of room for larger engine swaps, custom headers, or other atypical modifications that cause grief with the stock clutch linkage.
We’ve been considering a cable or hydraulic clutch conversion for quite some time. In the past couple years a handful of small vendors have developed kits, and we have taken them into consideration. Many of the kits required welding on the clutch pedal or firewall. Some kits used an OE cable, while others had one custom made. The bottom line was the kits never seemed to be well thought out and designed. We’ve seen many of the early designs lead to cracked or warped firewalls due to lack of load distribution. We’ve also heard reports of poor clutch release due to improper leverage.
The Modern Driveline kit is by far the best designed kit we’ve looked at. While it may require a little more time to install, the kit makes no compromises. The cable passes through a steel bracket which not only distributes the load of the cable, but strengthens the inherently weak firewall area behind the master cylinder. There is no welding or modification necessary other than drilling a hole – making the entire project easily reversible if ever needed. Follow along as we install the cable conversion kit into our ’67 Mustang.
Modern Driveline claims 90 minutes to install the kit, however that is assuming you have the T5 removed. You will need to install a cable actuated clutch fork, as found in late model Mustangs (not included). This requires removal of the transmission and bellhousing. Note if you have a T5 conversion kit which uses an adapter plate and original four-speed bellhousing, you will need to obtain a T5 or Lakewood bellhousing in order to mount the cable fork pivot.