Replacing an old 4 or 5-speed manual transmission with a modern six-speed like the almighty Tremec Magnum or a production-based Tremec T56 is a considerable upgrade. More cogs means better gearing for better acceleration as well as a high top gear for relaxed cruising on the highway.
There are plenty of companies that sell retrofit and swap kits to install a Tremec 6-speed into various hotrods, muscle cars, trucks and other vehicles that didn’t originally come with the slick-shifting six-speed, but up until this point, I’d yet to find a company that sold a Reverse lockout controller.
You see, since the T56 Magnum has its Fifth and Reverse gears in the same neighborhood, Tremec built a lockout solenoid to prevent grabbing Reverse unless the solenoid is open. This is to stop someone from catching Reverse when they’re going for Fifth—an undoubtedly dangerous mishap.
In this case, the swap candidate was a 1992 Ford Mustang LX coupe, a former Highway Patrol car that was receiving a Tremec Magnum with the road-race ready 2.66 First gear. The swap kit that mounts the six speed into the Fox-body came from D&D Performance (look for the review on the kit soon) and they provide the appropriate harness, but where most connect the solenoid to either a remote switch or the brake light, we wanted more of an OEM-like integration. Using the former methods means every time you want Reverse, you either have to flip a switch or hit the brakes—both annoying extra steps. The other common alternative is to hammer the shifter through the lockout, but this tears up the internal components of the T56.
The fix? Samoco Industries‘ ingenious T56 Reverse Lockout Controller that connects to the factory vehicle speed sensor and only unlocks the solenoid under 5 mph–just like a stock setup. The nifty box is easily mounted and is built from high-quality components.
Speaking of high-quality components, inside the unit is a microprocessor that monitors the vehicles speed. At speeds below 5 mph, the reverse-lockout solenoid is energized, allowing the shifter to easily catch Reverse. However, at speeds above 5 mph, the control box de-energizes the reverse-lockout solenoid, thus making it nearly impossible to find Reverse unless you’re seriously trying for it!
Along with the small wonder processor inside, the box is made from hardy plastic and utilizes high-quality wires that are more than long enough to reach all transmission locations and still mount the small box hidden inside the cabin. The Samoco unit also comes with detailed instructions and taking our time, we had ours installed in a little over an hour–remember, savor your time in the garage, there’s no need to rush!
So there you have it, folks. One of the coolest, easy-to-install products I’ve seen all year and it’s affordable too with a retail of $99.99 with available universal and OEM-style GM or FoMoCo connectors. Seriously, if we hadn’t stumbled into this clever contraption we’d be hitting the brakes and flipping switches just to find Reverse, instead, our Tremec transmission works just like factory and as far as I’m concerned, this should be considered mandatory with every Tremec Magnum or T56 swap.