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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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Discussion Starter #1
Kicking around the idea of swapping the TH350 in my SBC 1st gen for a manual transmission. I did a search on the site and the few threads that came up were all several years old, figured it wouldn’t hurt to start a new one.

My cab was originally a 5 speed so the pedal assembly is one thing I wouldn’t have to worry about. As far as choosing the right trans I’ve come across the following recommendations, but not sure how to choose. Unlikely anyone has experience swapping in all of the available options so it’s hard to find unbiased info.

NV3500
NV4500
T5
T-56

Seems everyone likes the t-56 best.

Once I identify the best option available I can get specific on searching the forum assuming nothing has changed on the process or parts needed for the swap.
 

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Been there Done it
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10,486 Posts
T-56 is the ideal trans.
NV 3500 and T5 aren't anything special, but will work behind a V8 if you don't beat on them. Most SBC's put out under 200 HP so they can handle it. Everybody thinks their SBC is 400 HP but few actually are. Most older swaps were done with smog era truck engines in the 160 to 180 HP range. If your truck is the exception and has a 70 Z28 370HP 350 then the T56 is the only logical choice.
The NV4500 belongs in HD trucks. Gearing is all wrong.
 
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The issue, is not what trans, but the intended usage of the vehicle. Understanding the usage and end goals will determine the transmission.
 

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B4U Task Force Admin
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yes mine is a 2003 2.2 can I use that 5 speed transmission for a 350 conversion?
Poor manners to hijack someone else's thread. Go ahead and start a new thread of your own.
 

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B4U Task Force Admin
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So you cannot join in on the conversation,, to find comrades this is my third s 10 v 8 conversion most were the older version ,,,
Sure you can. But what you added was not relevant to this thread.
 

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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
The issue, is not what trans, but the intended usage of the vehicle. Understanding the usage and end goals will determine the transmission.
It's a street truck. No plans to spend any time at the strip or ever have slicks. My daily driver is a 1500 4x4 auto, the s10 is currently my only toy so this is really my only option to get the shifting fix.
 

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Hardhead
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If all you're after is something to shift gears and you want a budget trans then look for the NV3500. It's cheaper than the T56 setup. It also has the advantage of having come in the S series trucks. It came in two configurations also that placed the shifter in different positions. The earlier model that are pre-98 will have the shifter around 6 inches forward of the later ones that came in 98+ trucks. You can also get a lot of the small parts off the 4 cylinder models to go with the 6 cylinder ones, like shifter console, the insulator that goes through the floor etc.. You'll want to locate a transmission crossmember also.
 

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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
If all you're after is something to shift gears and you want a budget trans then look for the NV3500. It's cheaper than the T56 setup. It also has the advantage of having come in the S series trucks. It came in two configurations also that placed the shifter in different positions. The earlier model that are pre-98 will have the shifter around 6 inches forward of the later ones that came in 98+ trucks. You can also get a lot of the small parts off the 4 cylinder models to go with the 6 cylinder ones, like shifter console, the insulator that goes through the floor etc.. You'll want to locate a transmission crossmember also.
To oldeerslayer's point, I have no idea my HP number but I'm assuming having a basically stock SBC with an aftermarket intake and 4 barrel I wont NEED a T56. Not that I wouldn't mind having the best trans available but the more I think about it it's hard to justify putting a $2000-$3300 trans behind a motor that looks great but is basically just a 'salvage' motor.

eshaw, the way you worded that leads me to believe the NV3500 only came in the 6cylinder models? Can you assume which fits the first gen without taking any measurements, the pre 98 or 98+?
 

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Hardhead
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As far as I'm aware the NV3500 installed in S series trucks was just behind the 6 cylinder models. I'm just giving you best guess here, I'd go with the 98 and earlier if it were me. You'll want to do your due diligence.
 

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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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Discussion Starter #13
As far as I'm aware the NV3500 installed in S series trucks was just behind the 6 cylinder models. I'm just giving you best guess here, I'd go with the 98 and earlier if it were me. You'll want to do your due diligence.
I'll dig a little deeper and report back. Just figured I'd ask incase it was a well known fact.
 

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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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Discussion Starter #14
Checked a few forums, the consensus is that the NV3500 only came behind 1990+ 4.3L. I haven't seen any mention of their being two different shifter locations though.
 

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Hardhead
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In my last post it should have read 97 and earlier. Also, if you look at a NV3500 and compare a 1995 model to a 1998 or later you will see that the shifter has been moved back about 6 inches. The NV3500 didn't come on anything I'm aware of before 1990.
 

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1983 2wd Reg Cab Long Bed SBC V8
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Discussion Starter #16
Spoke with someone who has a 1st gen with NV3500 behind an LS, previously a SBC, and he cleared up a few of our questions.

The 1990-1997 puts the shifter in the stock location but has an external slave cylinder (The 98+ has internal slave but is 6" further back as eshaw mentioned). 90-97 will bolt right up to SBC. On the LS the slave interferes with the oil pan but you can mod the pan or convert to internal slave.

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I also made a call to a local transmission shop that has done work on my daily driver. This is not a performance shop but still a reputable source.
After reading the Grass Roots Motorsports article I shared the link for earlier in the thread I wanted to confirm some of their claims. I called to find out what I would be looking at to service either the NV3500 or T56 as far as parts availability and cost. Long story short, he said it would be about $900 if everything was good and upwards of $2000 if internal wear parts needed replacing (I believe he said anything above 150K miles would likely be worn. For the T56 given that a used unit will likely cost 2k and a new one about $3300 even he said he would just buy a new one.

Given my situation I have about a year to source the trans so If I can find a 90-97 4.3 NV3500 for under $1000 ill pick it up.
I'm basically ruling out the possibility of finding a low mileage T56 at less than market price so If I don't find an affordable NV3500 i'll be going with a new t56 for about $3300.
 
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