1969 Camaro Tremec Overdrive Transmission Kit Installation Write Up

Installing a TKO Overdrive Transmission Kit Into a 1969 Camaro

The following is a description of the installation of a Tremec TKO-600, 5-speed overdrive transmission into my 1969 Camaro. To provide a little background, my car has a 450 HP, 350 small block ZZ430 motor. The car is a documented Z28 RS and was originally equipped from the factory with a 302 engine and Muncie M21 four speed. The installation of this transmission was given very careful consideration because I did not want to cut the body or alter the car in any way that could not be easily reversed. The original parts are safely stored away.

In total, from the removal of the Muncie 4-speed to having the TKO installed, took about 10 hours to complete with the help of a friend. If you have a reasonable level of skill, a friend to help you, and the proper tools, you should be able to successfully complete this swap without too much difficulty in about this amount of time.

The Installation
First, I removed the shifter ball, console plate and shifter boot, so I would be able to access anything I needed in the interior of the car. The forward console nuts under the car won’t be accessible with the new TKO in so the console was left in. Then I removed the distributor cap so it wouldn’t hit the firewall when I tilted the motor. I then jacked up the car onto jack stands as high as possible in order to be able to slide the TKO under the car while it is on the transmission jack. I positioned the front jack stands behind the bumper, just in front of the upper control arms and the rear jack stands were placed on the rear axle as close to the wheels as possible. Next, I removed the drive shaft. I then disconnected my exhaust at the collectors to allow the engine to be tilted back, removed the crossmember, old transmission, bellhousing, clutch & pressure plate. Next, I installed my newly machined flywheel, clutch Disc, pressure plate, TO bearing, & bell housing. I set the TKO on a transmission jack and lifted it into the tunnel.

With the TKO up into the tunnel, I carefully guided the input shaft through the release bearing and into the clutch until it seated up against the face of the bellhousing. Because the upper, right mounting hole is very close to the transmission case, it is difficult to use a socket or open end wrench to tighten this bolt. As a solution, I used an allen head bolt for this mounting point. After finger tightening all the bolts I checked to make sure the transmission was fully engaged into the bellhousing and torqued the bolts.

Perfect shifter positioning – no cutting required!

The kits include a custom crossmember for '67-'69 Camaros. It is a direct bolt in replacement for the stock crossmember requiring no modifications to the car or transmission.

Custom tubular crossmember for 1967-69 Camaros

3 4
Crossmember installed
Everything installed

The kit comes with a complete driveshaft including Spicer ujoints and a Spicer C6 slip yoke. Each driveshaft is custom built.

Final under car work
After installing my new driveshaft and tightening the exhaust back up, I then focused on the electrical connections. For the reverse light switch, I simply hooked up my cars reverse light wires from the wiring harness (pink and green wire) to the reverse light switch located on the driver’s side of the transmission case. I used a custom made pigtail connector that easily snaps on to the reverse light switch on the transmission. This part is included with the kit.

Next, I attached my speedometer cable to the driver’s side of the transmission. Since I was not using the electrical speedometer pick up, I used a connector with the wires cut off to keep dirt out in case I wanted to use it in the future.

Speedometer cable installed

Before leaving the underside of the car, I filled the transmission with GM Syncromesh transmission fluid. I chose to put about 1 1/2 quarts in before I put the transmission in the car. This made topping it off later a bit easier.

Interior & Console
With the shifter stub sticking up dead center through the stock hole in the floorboard, I bolted the shifter handle to the stub using some blue Loctite. I then installed the stock Tremec boot over the McLeod shifter. Next, I installed the stock GM boot and boot retainer to the floorboard. To finish it off, I screwed on my stock shifter ball and re-installed the console plate on. Done!!!
See the series of pictures below for details.



Install complete. Perfect shift stick positioning and no modifications to my car!

The camaro offset shifter fit is beautiful. It shifts smoothly and is very precise. There are no clearance problems with the floor or console and the installation looks like it came from the factory.

As a side note, you can definitely use the stock Tremec shifter provided with the transmission. The stock Tremec shifter is a quality unit and it works just fine for this application. If using this shifter, the only modifications required would have been to trim a bit off the bottom edge on the plastic shift tunnel piece so that it would clear the shifter turret and to trim a small piece of the floorboard at the right upper edge of the stock shifter opening. A small spacer could be used to move the shifter to the left to get it closer to the stock location if you wish. Other than that, you can use the stock Tremec shifter and your stock console will fit perfectly into its original location.

Stock Tremec shifter compared to low-profile offset shifter

Red line shows where and how much you would need to cut the floorboard if you were to use the stock Tremec shifter.

Break In & Test Drive
It is necessary to properly break-in the transmission. To do this, I put the car on jack stands, started the car, and ran through the gears for 10-15 minutes.

All that was remaining was the test drive. The shifting is noticeably smoother and tighter than the Muncie. The first gear of the Tremec worked well with my 3.73 rear gears. Throw between gears is about the same as factory but more precise. All that is required for a quick second to third shift is to push the shifter forward and It finds the 3-4 gate with ease! But the best thing is the overdrive! I am now able to cruise on the highway at 70 MPH at 2150 RPM's. With my old Muncie, I was at 3300 RPM's at 70 MPH – a major difference! The Tremec TKO-600 has transformed the car. Compared to the other modifications that I have made to my car, installing a TKO transmission has easily been the best improvement!

1969 RS/Z28 Camaro