It's hard to keep up with traffic these days, let alone the Joneses. Anyone who owns and drives a classic vehicle (especially a truck) on the highway today knows it's a dangerous game--particularly to avoid being rear-ended by someone who thinks the speed limit sign said 100 mph. Try as we may, those with stock or even updated `60s-70s drivetrains still feel like we're sitting still as regular traffic whizzes by. Those in not-so-metropolitan areas have it a little easier than us in the big cities, but who with three pedals wouldn't like to cruise a bit faster and easier between point A and B?

Those who travel in their classic truck any moderate distances know a four-speed gearbox--let alone a heavy-duty unit with a granny first, a non-syncro three-speed, or even a three-speed automatic, for that matter--is a handful (pun not intended) Most of us are aware of the high-buck five- and six-speed transmissions out there that work very well and can handle buckets of horsepower and torque. But what if you only have a a moderate situation--that is, moderate power AND budget?

Keisler Engineering has been dealing with Tremec transmissions for over 10 years now and has many direct-fit five- and six-speed conversion kits for four-speed and automatic applications. Recently, they branched out to offer a "universal/street rod" five-speed Tremec T45R, Tremec TKO series, and six-speed Tremec T56 kits for those of us with more basic transmission needs. The T45R is a transmission you are probably not familiar with unless you own a '96-04 Ford Mustang. It is a production five-speed Overdrive manual trans Tremec produced for Ford that is in a compact package with a good shifter location. The OEM T45R was soon plagued with hard gear-grinding shifts as well as First and Reverse pop-out problems. Keisler saw this problem in the huge Mustang market and soon figured out a permanent fix, which is now patent pending. The Keisler remanufactured T45R includes all-new upgraded carbon-fiber synchronizers, bearings, seals (and gears as required), the aluminum alloy case, and an all-new billet PRO shifter with internal spring biasing for positive, crisp shifts. Not only that, but they have also been able to beef them up, conservatively rating them to handle 350 to 425 lb-ft of torque depending on which stage you choose.

Keisler went even further to design a front cover for the T45R that would allow them to cut off or "divorce" the integral bellhousing for the stock modular two-, three-, and four-valve Ford engines and make the trans work with most any conventional Chevy, Ford, and Mopar small- and big-block engine. This means you can bolt up this surprisingly affordable five-speed Overdrive tranny to your favorite powerplant (many of you with a four-speed in your truck already can use the T45R with your stock bellhousing and mechanical clutch linkage) and drop your cruising revs by 33 percent. Using Keisler's Speed Analyzer on the website, if I had a wide-ratio four-speed in my truck coupled with my 3.50:1 ring-and-pinion and 255/55R18 rear tire size, my rpm would drop from 2,700 down to 1,800 at 65 mph! The T45R's 0.67:1 overdrive ratio cut a whopping 1,000 rpm at 80 mph, and its First gear ratio will make it launch like a 4.11 ring-and-pinion. Just think about the improved gas mileage over an old manual or non-OD automatic, not to mention the fun around town and comfort on the highway. You can also upgrade to a hydraulic actuator kit to easily operate the clutch without any mechanical linkage to bind, jam, or get in the way.