Michael Galimi
January 7, 2011
Photos By: Courtesy Of Quick Time Performance Parts

"I consider myself a pretty good stick-shift driver, and I have problems banging gears in the 2011 5.0L Mustang," was the comment Justin Burcham of JPC Racing said after a few months of dragstrip action in the JPC shop car and several customer rides. Ford utilizes a Getrag MT82 six-speed transmission for the manual-gearbox-equipped '11 Mustangs, and according to Burcham, it works well in the beginning, but as time wears on, shifting troubles arise.

"The transmission was great when I first got the car, but as we added power and there was more wear on it, then the shifting troubles began."

It wasn't just in his new '11 either. A few customers have had similar problems. It was an issue that Burcham needed to address if he wanted to keep pushing the envelope with his Paxton-supercharged 5.0L, so he decided to build a solution.

The Getrag also seems prone to breakage, even in some of the mildest combinations. Burcham explained, "At one point, when we were making just 430 rwhp with the typical bolt-ons, all of a sudden the transmission got stuck in Third gear. I haven't had a stock transmission stick in a gear since the old days of the T5." For those who don't remember, the Borg-Warner T5 transmission was offered in Mustang V-8 models from '85-'95. The transmission broke rather easily once you added a few parts and performed some spirited driving. Breakage aside, Burcham was more concerned with the problematic shifting. Anyone who witnessed the MM&FF 5.0L shootout saw the issues that a few of the stick-shift entries had in terms of consistency.

The JPC solution was to turn to a familiar company for a six-speed box that was up to the task of holding big power and offering more accurate shifting. Tremec is set to release (spring 2011) a T56 Magnum that's designed specifically for S197 Mustang applications, and it applies perfectly to the '11-newer Mustang. Tremec offered the transmission to Burcham, a longtime-sponsored racer with the company when it heard of his issues with the stock MT82.

Once available, the S197-spec T56 will be offered in a package to make purchasing and installing it in a 2011-newer Mustang an easy task. The kit includes a Tremec T56 Magnum S197 transmission, McLeod clutch (RST or RXT) and aluminum flywheel, choice of short-throw shifter (Tremec Adjustable Bias, Steeda Tri-Ax, or Pro 5.0), aluminum driveshaft, crossmember, and sensor hook-ups.

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The S197-spec T56 Magnum offers several unique features; the first highlight that Burcham noted was the shifter arrangement. "The Magnum has a direct-shift setup rather than the semi-remote-mounted style that comes from the factory. The factory shifter is attached to both the body and the transmission, which causes issues when the power goes up.

"When you increase horsepower and torque, the unibody reacts more-now the shifter base is moving one way, while the transmission is moving another way, and that causes inconsistent shifting." The Magnum's direct-shift-style setup is far better for performance driving, both road race and drag race.

Direct-shift isn't the only benefit when converting to the new gearbox-the Magnum comes standard with a slip-yoke interface that lends itself nicely to use with a one-piece driveshaft. One major difference the driver will notice, aside from the shifting, is the gear ratios between the Getrag and T56 Magnum. The Magnum offers four forward gears, plus two Overdrive gears, while the Getrag has five regular gears and a single Overdrive gear.

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