D&D Performance helps get Mark Stielow’s shift together
Super Chevy Magazine / Barry Kluczyk/ Oct 25, 2017 (photos courtesy of Super Chevy Magazine)
Offering great strength and performance on the track while also enabling great highway fuel economy, it’s little wonder the TREMEC Magnum six-speed transmission is the gearbox of choice for many builders these days. Pro Touring pioneer Mark Stielow has used it exclusively on his last several Camaro projects and is going with it again with his latest build, dubbed Gunner.
Based on the design of the well-regarded T-56 transmission, the Magnum uses the “guts” of the TREMEC TR-6060, with its gearbox found in late-model performance vehicles such as the fifth- and sixth-gen Camaro, C6 Corvette, and Cadillac CTS-V. Simply put, it picks up where the T-56 left off, with elements designed to stand up to the kind of performance generated by, say, the 650hp Camaro ZL1.
“The T-56 was great for power levels of the vehicles it was matched with,” said Don Walsh, Sr., founder of transmission specialist D&D Performance in suburban Detroit. “As time, technology, and performance capability marched on, so did the need for a stronger transmission, and that’s where the TR-6060 and Magnum came in.”
The Magnum’s greater strength comes from larger and stronger components compared to the T-56. First gear, for example, is 22 percent thicker in the Magnum than in the T-56. But for all its built-in strength, there are a couple of elements that could still be stronger. We’re talking about the blocker rings—also known as synchronizer rings—and the shift fork pads. For virtually indestructible performance, Walsh recommends replacing the standard brass blocker rings with carbon-faced or total carbon units and swapping the original plastic fork pads with brass ones.
More than the potential of breaking the components, heat is a persistent threat, particularly for cars that see regular track time. “If you’re not running a trans cooler, it’s very easy to heat up the transmission fluid to 200 degrees F,” says Walsh. “That can melt the fork pads and add to the wear of the blocker rings.”
Stielow plans to put Gunner on the track the moment the last bolts are tightened and the final wiring harness is plugged in, so bulletproofing it is a top priority. The only rub to making these upgrades is they require the transmission to be completely disassembled.