Mike Yoksich
October 1, 2009
If you don't have a hoist and a trans jack, and you don't want to rent a bay, you can do this with four jackstands and a floor jack. When your swap with is finished, you'll have some great wrenching war stories to tell your buddies. You're going to need some tall stands to get the transmission out, but it can be done. We can't recommend a lift highly enough. Likewise if you have positive-displacement blower on your 'Stang, like Livernois does, you need to take it off for firewall clearance. If your 'Stang has a centrifugal supercharger, you'll need to disconnect the inlet tube and the discharge tube that goes to the intercooler so you can tilt the motor. With a turbocharger you will need to remove any tubing that restricts you from tilting the engine for clearance. If you have a naturally aspirated engine you're all set. Of course, if this seems like to much for you to tackle, any local trans shop can do this swap without drama. It should bolt right up.

In our Jan. '09 issue, star writer and photographer Dale Amy tagged Livernois Motorsport's project S197 as Wonder Bred, as it was bred to produce wonder-inspiring performance. The innocent, wingless, white Mustang GT achieved all goals set out by Livernois Motorsports main man Dan Millen. Those goals entailed running 10-second e.t.'s on 20-inch wheels. More impressive yet, is that the car ran 10s on 20s with a stock transmission and torque converter.

While the strength and efficiency of Ford's 5R55S automatic was proven by its ability to cruise to the track and whip out high-10-second runs, there's always room to improve, and that's where TCI's new Super Street Fighter Ford 5R55S automatic transmission enters the picture.

These days, the 'Stang is putting down 520 hp and 480 lb-ft at the feet. Dan has big plans for this research vehicle, however, as he believes the Whipple-blown 298ci engine package has yet to reach its potential. Dan knew the next evolution of the engine would require a transmission that could really take some abuse.

When TCI developed this new trans they had power adder-equipped '05-'08 Mustangs in mind. This beefed-up version of Ford's 5R55S transmission's mods include an increased number of clutches using a new, super-durable Alto Red Eagle clutch material and Kolene-treated steel plates. Likewise, Alto Red Eagle extra-wide bands, with exclusive linings and heat-treated struts, work with billet aluminum servos to increase clamping force, shift firmness, and feel. Moreover, TCI's efficient hydraulic circuitry extends transmission life for street and race vehicles, while higher line pressures provide extra firm shifts while providing greater torque capacity with less slippage.

All that sounds great, but all TCI transmissions are factory blueprinted, inspected, and dyno tested, which made the Livernois crew more confident about hanging its hopes on the Super Street Fighter 5R55S trans and a TCI torque converter. Fortunately, the whole setup is a direct replacement for the Ford 5R55S transmission. That said, follow along with our photos as Livernois Motorsports master technician Tim Skardoutos takes us step by step through the process.

Getting started, you must remove the converter nuts through the access hole in the back of the driver side of the block. Livernois' 'Stang has long-tube headers, limiting access. Short-tube headers or stock manifolds make access easier. If you have the stock manifolds, get them off of there and go buy some headers, dude.

Track Testing
Rick LeBlanc has a cool job, which includes test-driving this vehicle. He took took the company's favorite loaf of white bread out to Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan, on April 4 for opening day.

On the 30-mile ride from Rick's house to the track, he couldn't feel any difference. The Super Street Fighter felt just like the stock trans. At Milan, Rick had a little trouble getting the car to hook up. It has been lowered so it doesn't have the weight transfer that might have helped. Dan Millen had TCI only put 200 more rpm than the stock converter they replaced because this car is meant more for the street than track.

On the strip, Rick noticed shifts were firmer than the stock trans; also, because the Whipple makes instant torque, he had to leave off idle and didn't get to take advantage of the higher stall speed of the TCI converter. The crowd was so big at Milan's opening day, Rick didn't want to try leaving on the converter and waste a run with massive tire spin.

"The track wasn't there for me in the morning, but hey, I was trying to go fast on 20s and its not the easiest thing to do," Rick explains. "Toward the end of the day, the track was getting much better, but I only managed to get four passes. I did get a new best 60-foot of 1.63 on 20s!"