Transmission install

I haven’t posted in a while because all of the projects are either half done, or hard to get pictures of. With the transmission, working in my garage without a lift makes it very difficult to get a picture. In addition, like every project with this car, there is always one more thing to finish, and I hate to write up half done projects.

So, there are basically 2 ways of installing the transmission. Option A is to attach it to the engine while it’s out and shoe horn it all in at once. Option B is to mount the engine, then install the transmission up from the bottom. I went with Option B. Not having good clearance in the garage, and less than ideal work space made A a difficult endeavor. Not that B was easy, but I could at least see myself finishing it.


Here is what I had to work with. Based on the shipping, its about 70 pounds. MDL shipped it with a rear oriented shifter specifically for the mustang since the opening on the tunnel is further back than what it originally went in.  Even then, I had my expectations set to “trim it a bit” to make it fit. I wasn’t excited about that seeing as I already installed the carpet, and I just replaced the floor pan at the start of the project.

This is one area I wish I had a real transmission jack. I don’t know why the bottom of a transmission can’t be flat. For some reason it is V shaped, so its difficult to jack it up without specialized tools. Evidently, that’s challenge accepted on my part. To get it all lined up, I put the back on a jack stand roughly at the right height, and jacked up the front to slide it into the bearing and bell housing. I carefully fit the bolts and wiggled it a bit while I seated it fully in the bearing. It was tight and I had to force myself not to just torque the bolts down and call it done, but I really didn’t want to do this again by forcing something that shouldn’t be forced.


The goal was to get the hole in the tunnel to line up perfectly with the shifter. In order to make this happen, I had to move the engine and transmission back half an inch from where I had it originally. You can see the boot (which has something solid directly under it) now fits into the opening. As a bonus, the transmission cross member mount now fits smoothly without the use of the big hammer. Since I don’t have a driveshaft yet, I wasn’t concerned about that side of business with moving the engine. Though, I am not done tuning the location just yet.

To get it to fit that far back, I had to take off the cross member between the bottoms of the shock towers. The oil pan was hitting it when I moved it back. My first thought was that I have a non stock oil pan. I purchased a 5 quart pan from Summit to test that theory. Unfortunately, I now have a second identical oil pan.

From there, I went to the VMF board and found the custom cross member I had been wanting to get, but was putting off as one of the “later” projects after it’s running. I placed the order and found other things to do for a week.


I was hopeful when it arrived. First, you can see how much stronger it is. It also weighs probably twice the original. Definitely a much more solid part. Additionally, it attaches to the concentric bolt, not just the frame. It also comes with a new concentric lockout and longer bolt for when I get to the wheel alignment lock down.  Back to the original problem, it’s also taller and a bit wider where the oil pan hits. Oh, and I also had to have the jack stand pad. I think that’s a great feature, personally.


Well, with the half inch back, then me trying to get the exhaust away from the Borgeson steering box, I was still too close to the cross member. My first thought was to give up my half inch drop from the motor mounts and go back to the stock height. The carb spacer was going to have to go anyhow with the hood height, so might as well give it a shot.


So, if you remember the previous mount, it was a regular triangle. These new brackets are an odd L shape, giving a half inch more lift to the engine. I was able to just lift the engine up and replace just the plates in place, then set it back down and torque everything down. That off center to the left thing has to go though. It turns out I’m going to have a problem with it later when I get to the radiator. It may not be an issue if I go with an electric fan, but I figured that was a “later” project too, and the off center fan doesn’t fit in the shroud mounting points on the engine mounted fan.

While working through the original problem of how to get a half inch lower and still used the custom cross member, Ray, the creator, mentioned he has a low profile design which is less of a V and more of a U. This might move the bar enough to clear the edges of the oil pan. In addition, its actually a low profile compared to the previous version, and is less visible behind the oil pump, not extending out as far.


From this profile picture, you can see its wider at the base, and still about the same height as the stock part.

It turns out this is exactly the right part for the job. I was able to keep the engine back to avoid cutting the tunnel, center it for the fan, keep it dropped with the half inch RM mounts, and clear the cross member. A lot of trouble, but it finally worked out. And Ray was awesome helping to do what it takes to make it happen. He was glad to swap the low profile and didn’t even charge me the extra freight.

I will have to get some good pictures up once I can get it on a lift and get some light under it. All of the pictures are blue and black blobs of blur from when I tried without a lift.


Once I was sure everything was done moving, I went ahead and finished the stick install. I had to take the stick to a local machine shop to bore out the 2 bolt holes. The back set shifter has slightly larger holes than stock, and I don’t have a vice I to hold it if I were to try to drill it myself. Fortunately, there’s a good local shop just a few miles away who did it for free. After a bit of cutting carpet, the boot went on perfect. I may get something prettier in the future, but for now, it gets the job done. Stock look, but a few more numbers on the ball than original.


  • Z Ray Crossmember
  • Other parts included from previous MDL package
  • Ron Morris adjustable mount optional stock height plates

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