Knowledgeable Camaro/Firebird Sales, We've Lived These Cars For Over 25 Years !

 

The Borg Warner Tremec T-56 6-Speed Transmission

 

Here at RPM Motorsports, we spend our days hunting all over the United States looking for good Camaros and Firebirds to offer our customers. We test drive every decent f-body we can get our hands on. Having said that, we have an almost impossible time finding 6-Speed cars that have perfectly functioning 6-speed transmissions. Most all are damaged. At this point in time, January 2010, approx. 80-85% of all the 6-speeds we drive have damaged, grinding, screwed up transmissions. As time goes on, this percentage gets higher. For the most part, the good ones we find are in 1-Owner 01-02 cars with zero mods and 50K miles or less. The older the car and the more mods, the greater the chance of the 6-speed transmission being damaged.

 

A little history on the Borg Warner Tremec T-56 6-Speed Transmission. Originally, the T-56 was developed and built by Borg Warner. These transmissions were of decent quality and are found in the 93-97 LT-1 cars. Sometime around 1997, Borg Warner sold the T-56 out to a company called Tremec. Tremec began building the T-56 transmissions in Mexico out of inferior parts with cheap/weak synchros and gears. Every 6-Speed transmission you find in an LS1 Camaro, Firebird or Corvette is a cheaply built Mexican Tremec T-56.

 

The Tremec T56 6-Speed transmission has extremely!!!!! weak synchos. Any kind of speed shifting or high rpm misshifts will wear the synchros out quickly and cause the transmission to grind, pop out of gear, or make high rpm shifts hang. Repairing or rebuilding a T56 will cost between $1500 and $3000........ if you can find anyone who knows how. It takes special tooks to disassemble a T-56 transmission, tools that most shops don't have. Additionally, T-56 parts are extremely expensive. For this reason, nobody fixes them, they just sell off their broken cars and that's what you have today.......... most of the 6-speeds for sale as having problems.

 

Contributing to this problem is the clutch hydraulic system. As the 6-Speed cars get older and higher in mileage, the clutch slave and master cylinders start getting weak. As the hydraulic system gets weak, the cluch will have a harder time engaging. This also contributes to wearing out the weak T-56 synchros. We've seen several 6-speed cars that drive fine when cold but after a good 15 minute drive, the heat from the engine heats up the clutch slave cylinder which then begins bypassing fluid. At that point, shifts become difficult as the clutch is not fully engaging or disengaging. Once again........ contributing to synchro wear.

 

The automatic transmissions are pretty much bulletproof with a 3.06 first gear compared to the 2.66 first gear in the 6-speed. The automatic actually has more gearing off the line. The 6 speeds are NOT any faster than the automatics. You put 2 average drivers in identical cars, 1 auto/1 6-spd, send them to the drap strip and let them make 10 runs against each other...... the automatic is going to win 9 times out of 10 because of the gearing, ease of use/launch while the guy with the 6 speed spins the tires and misses an occasional high rpm shift. If you plan on doing any racing whatsoever or driving these cars like were intended to be used for, it would be very smart to go with the automatic. The automatic will last for a very long time while the 6-speed will break if raced or driven hard.

 

Further proof of the automatic transmission's superiority can be found in the 2005 Pontiac GTO catalog. The GTO uses the same automatic and Tremec T-56 6-Speed as the Z-28 and Trans Am(Corvette too). Pontiac's own performance figures for the 2005 LS-2 powered GTO are as follows:

Automatic: 0-60 4.6 Seconds, 1/4 mile 13.0 @ 108 mph

6-Speed: 0-60 4.7 Seconds, 1/4 mile 13.1 @ 108 mph

 

Having said all that, we realize that many of you are die-hard 6-Speed fanatics and will not even look at an automatic. When you come to RPM Motorsports, you can be guaranteed that any 6-Speed transmission Camaro, Firebird or Corvette on our lot will function perfectly without any of the problems you will find on most every other 6-Speed car anywhere else. If you find a 6-Speed car on another local car lot, we've probably seen it, driven it, and passed on it. We try to buy every good one we can get our hands on. Most other dealers have no in depth knowlege of these cars and have no clue what they are buying or what to check for when looking at a 6-Speed car. We see unknowledgeable dealers overpay for bad 6-Speeds every single week and get stuck with cars needing $2000-$3000 worth of transmission work. In fact, we see it so much, we know pretty much every 6-Speed car around as unknowledgeable dealers buy them, get stuck with them, bring them back to dealer sales and the process starts all over again. We see the same cars again and again at sales and know their problems. We've lived, breathed, raced, owned and driven these cars for over 25 years and when it comes to 6-Speeds, we've been through it all and know what to look for.

 

Update: July 2009

We have only seen one 6-Speed car in Oklahoma so far this year in 2009 with a correctly functioning transmission ! The few we have had came from out of state. We highly recommend that any customer looking for a 6-Speed LS-1 car have an additional $2000 set back for tranmission repairs.

 

Update: The Year of 2010

In the entire year of 2010, we only saw 1 6-Speed LS-1 car with an OK shifting transmission. It wasn't great but it was OK.

 

Update: January 2011

Unfreakingbelievable !!!! We found a virgin adult owned 1-owner 80K mile 6-Speed LS-1 Formula Firebird with the slickest shifting Hurst 6-Speed we have driven in years ! I doubt we will ever see one this slick under $10,000 again.(Sold in 1 day)