How do you make the drivetrain exotic, high-tech, and road-racey? Since we don't have a mid-engine car here (although people have built mid-mounted engines in early Fords), I'm going to recreate what people call the "front mid-engine" design. This is done by mounting the transmission to the rearend at the back of the car, thus shifting the weight backwards. In my case, I'll be using a Corvette C5 drivetrain with its Getrag differential and attendant Borg Warner T-56 6-speed manual transmission.

Mating the C5 tranny combo to a Ford 351 Cleveland poses some special challenges. So far, I have identified the following issues:

Pilot Bearing: The end of the transmission input shaft rides in a pilot bearing that is pressed into the crankshaft. The standard Ford bearing ID is smaller than a Chevy. To deal with this, I have ordered an "adapter pilot bearing" from Speedway Motors for $14.

Clutch/Disk/Flywheel: That pesky tranny input shaft is working on us again. It wants a Chevy spline pattern, but I will need a Ford clutch bolted to my Ford flywheel. The answer is to use a Chevy disk with a Ford clutch. At least I think that's the answer. We're going to see.

Clutch Linkage: Since we're going to be using a funky clutch in a funky bellhousing, we need to keep this simple. Forget mechanical linkages, I'm going with a hydraulic throwout bearing. That's what the C5 uses anyway. It'll look a lot cleaner from an aesthetic standpoint, and all the clearance problems are eliminated. Haven't run down the exact part I'll need yet, but I am confident it'll work out.

Bellhousing: I bought a Corvette C5 bellhousing and a Ford bellhousing, both very used (the Corvette piece is cracked) on eBay. Putting the two together, the answer is obvious. The Chevy piece is about 3/8" shorter than the Ford. So, we start with a Ford, cut it down, weld on a plate, mill the plate to be true to the front surface, drill the plate to fit the torque tube, and voila: we have a bellhousing whose diameter will accept a Ford clutch, engine holes are Ford, and tranny end fits the Corvette torque tube. That's not so bad, is it?

The plan is to finish building the engine, meanwhile getting the new bellhousing machined. When they're both done, I'll bolt the whole thing up to make sure it fits right. After that, I'll be ready to build the custom chassis.

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All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.