MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD
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Author:  Aamp [ Sun May 07, 2006 1:01 am ]
Post subject:  MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD


This is an instructional write up that I prepared based on my experience to help those who are debating converting their automatic MK1 to a 5 speed manual. Why do this you ask? Well it is ultimately a matter of preference.

If you prefer having a noticeable increase in power, getting better gas mileage, and having overall better control over gear selection with increased gears, then this might be right up your alley; and for this limited time offer of 4 easy payments of $19.95, I will show you how. Just send a cheque or money order to... Just kidding!

The #1 reason why I chose to do this is fun! I enjoy working on these little cars and love the added thrill of driving a manual. It made driving my Firefly more exciting and fun as I became more involved with driving it and can now learn new techniques. The conversion was relatively inexpensive and though I wouldn't exactly say that is was easy to do (it's more a labour of love for these little cars), it wasn't really all that difficult neither.

I'm sorry if I made this article a bit humongous, but without any pictures, or me being able to show you; it made it a little difficult to explain things. I tried to do the best I could, hence the bulky information. I tried to explain things as though I were telling myself from 3 weeks ago, who basically knew nothing, how to start and finish the job.

Might I suggest finding a comfortable chair and brewing a coffee before reading this as you might as well be relaxed for it may take a fair bit of time to get through it all. On that note, here it is!

Parts you will need prior to conversion:

-A complete manual parts donor car (recommended) or the following parts from a manual car:

-Pedals assembly as a whole. Not just the clutch pedal. The clutch and brake pedal are both fastened to a steel frame under the dash that is connected to the dash and steering column. You will need that entire frame assembly.

-Shifter and linkage assembly. This includes the shifter and support/shift rods that attatch to the manual transaxle.

-Clutch cable.

-Flywheel with pressure plate and bolts.

-Clutch disc.

-Clutch cover/pressure plate friction surface (thing with fingers).

-Drive shafts from the manual car.

-The radiator (not necessary).

-Manual transaxle crossmember (the beam that the transaxle mounts to that runs lengthwise to the car on the underside)

-All the hardware that joins these parts together.

-2.5 quarts of gear oil (SAE 75W/85 GL-5). I think I just used 80W/90.

-An ECU (?)*

-And of course the Manual Transaxle!

Tools Required:

-A metric socket set. 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm, and 30mm will be your best friends through most of the conversion process! I think there might be some other sizes used as well, but not as common as the above listed sizes. Some deep sockets may be required.

-A metric combo wrench set for the areas that sockets can't access.

-Socket extensions (for hard to reach stuff).

-A breaker bar.

-A torque wrench is very handy!

-Some beers.

-Locking pliers.

-Side cutters.

-Phillips #2 and slotted screw drivers.

-A pry bar.

-A hammer.

-A drill.

-A torch.

-A Clutch alignment tool (this can be home-made. I used a drill bit with a shank that fit the pilot bearing and a bore diameter that matched the clutch plate).

-Some penetrant spray.

-A grinder and or reciprocating saw.

-a 1 3/8" hole saw. (1 1/2" will do, it's what I used, but the hole you need to drill will be slightly oversized).

-A bunch of large 4 litre ice cream pails or an oil drain pan.

-A pair of jackstands.

-A jack. Preferably a floor jack because you can roll it around.

-A Hill Billy rope (just some ordinary poly rope).

-A friend if you can trick one into helping you!

-A Haynes manual to use as reference, or to figure out that one critical step that stupid Aamp forgot to add.


I would suggest dropping the manual transmission out from the donor car first. The procedures are very similar for both the auto and the 5 speed, but if you are like me and never have dropped a tranny from a front-wheel drive vehicle until now, the donor makes for good practice grounds incase you screw something up. At least you will not have gone past the point of no return!

These procedures are listed in a general and not any particular order. I'm going to try to list in the order that I did it in. It worked fine for me, but might not work as well for you. Also keep in mind that my information might not be 100% accurate and I might even miss a step or two. Please use this as a guidline and use it at your own risk.

*I don't go into any details regarding ECU s, because my MK1's are OLD SKOOL and do not have engine computers. My automatic has an Automatic Transmission Control Unit which I can simply omit, although it works with it in also. If your car is running an ECU, you might have to get one from the donor car to work with your new transmission and or there may be wires and connectors that I don't even mention because I am not familiar with them. My walkthrough should hopefully get you through the bulk of the conversion, but when it comes to computers, you're on your own!

Before attempting this swap, first ask yourself, "is this something that I REALLY want to attempt? Am I mechanically inclined? Am I willing to put at least 22 hours or 2 long days aside to complete the job?"

Make sure you think about this hard, especially if your auto is your baby and is working fine the way it is. There are many advantages to having the 5 speed in a small car like this, but not if it is done improperly resulting in a ruined car. You have to make sure that you don't mind tearing into your car because once you have hit the "point of no return", your car may never be an automatic again.

Sounds kinda scary doesn't it, but it's not really that bad!

Manual transmission removal (the way I did it):

Removing the transmission entails the removal of the driveshafts and some suspension components. Before doing anything, put the parking brake on, then disconnect the negative terminal from the battery, or better yet, remove the battery completely as it will probably find a way to get up in your face.

With the battery out of the way, while the vehicle is still on the ground, loosen the driveshaft to front wheel hub nuts. They are the large castle nuts that are cotter pinned in the centre of the front wheels. Use the side cutters to bend and pull the cotter pins out. Then find a way to stop the front wheels from moving around; chock them, get a buddy to put on the brakes, jam a bar between the lugs and connect it to the ground, do whatever you feel comfortable with doing to prevent the front wheels from turning when you put the smack down on the nut.

This nut can be a real mother to get off. I used a 1/2" drive ratchet with a 30mm socket and a 6 foot steel pole to gain leverage. I found it helps if you use a torch to heat the centre part of the driveshaft, not the nut, before cranking it off.

Once those are out of the way, Yell at the clouds, have a drink, then continue knowing that you got one of the more harder parts out of the way. If you cannot get these off, then maybe you should consider thinking twice about moving on with the rest of the project.

Now you can loosen the lug nuts, and jack up the vehicle. Check again that the parking brake is on, chock the rear wheels with wheel chocks, bricks, or wood, then jack the front end up as high as you possibly can while remaining feeling safe and confident.

Oh yeah, and try to work on a flat surface so's your car doesn't tip over or break free and roll away.

Support the front of the vehicle evenly with jack stands on both sides, making sure that they don't interfere with the front wheels, or transmission and front suspension components, then check to make sure that it is stable and not going to fall on you.

Remove both of the front wheels. Place cardboard or newspaper underneath the area that you will be working in if you are worried about making a mess on the ground. Just make sure that if you are dropping the tranny with a floor jack that this covering doesn't interfere with the wheels on the jack as it makes it easier if the jack can roll around freely. Get your ice cream buckets. Use them to drain the gear oil from the transmission. Make sure you do this, or you are going to end up with a mess when you remove the axles!

Remove the stabilizer bar. It's that bar with a bend in it that runs across the front of the car and connects to the control arms at both wheeels. To do this you will have to remove the two smaller castle nuts at the control arms on both sides. Remove the cotter pins with the side cutters, then I think you use a 17mm socket to turn these nuts off. Penetrant spray always helps if they are rusted on. Once the nuts are off, remove the washer and pull out the rubber bushings.

Locate the 2 stabilizer bar front bushings on the very front of the car. There should be a total of 4 bolts holding these bushings and utlimately the bar on. I believe the 14mm will get these off. Once these bolts are out, the bar should hang down. Gently pull it forward and it should come off.

Now, have a drink, tell your neighbour to bugger off if he radiates any angry expressions that lead you to believe that he assumes that you are, for some reason, always up to no good, then continue by removing the ball stud pinch bolts. The only way I can describe this is it is the nut and bolt right beside the hole in the control arm where stabilizer bar went. It fastens the control arm to the rest of the hub assembly. I can't remember, but my memory tells me that the 14mm socket and combo wrench gets this one out. Once it was out, I used a block of wood and a hammer to hit the top of the control arm down until it released itself from the stud.

Now we are all go to pull the driveshafts. What I did was carefully pulled on and turned the wheel assembly to free the drive shaft from the hub. Then I set the outer end of the drive axle down on a surface where it would remain clean and undamaged. If you have a friend to help you out, have them support the outer part of the driveshaft while you work on freeing the inner part. Next I used the prybar to carefully pry the driveshaft away and outward from the tranny until I felt a "pop". This "pop" is the retaining circlip coming free. All I had to do to remove the axle from this point was carefully pull on it.

With the axle out, It is best to label it (ex. manual, driver's side) by putting a marking on the CV boot so that it is installed correctly and or doesn't get mixed up when the time comes to put it back into the other car.

Disconnect the clutch cable from the transmission; 12mm socket and combo wrench, I think, to remove the pinch bolt on the clutch arm shaft where the cable runs to. There are also 2 bolts (12mm?) that hold a cable retaining bracket to the tranny. When all this is done, the cable should not be connected to anything in the engine bay and should move around freely to the point where it enters the firewall.

Remove all the electrical connectors that go to the transmission. There is a 2 pin, round plastic connector that has to be released and a few ground wires held on by bolts that have to be taken off. Remove the speedometer cable which is held on by one 10mm bolt.

Disconnect the 2 bolts that secure the shifter linkage and the shifter stabilizer bar to the back underside of the transmission and tie them out of the way.

Remove the starter which is held on by 2 bolts (12mm?). Make sure that you don't lose the plate that goes between the starter and transmission.

Go to the underside of the car. At the very bottom of the bellhousing, there is a plate held on by two 10mm bolts that covers the flywheel. Remove this.

Support the engine with something. I used my Hill Billy rope to tie it back to a secure area pulling the weight toward the passanger side.


Sorry, the image did not resize properly. Can you see the rope to the bottom left?

Remove the 3 engine to transmission bolts and the 1 engine to transmission nut. Label them as you take them out as they are all different lengths. I think a 14mm socket does the trick!

Double check to be certain that there is nothing connected to the transmission that could cause a problem. In other words, make sure it is free of everything and that nothing is still attached. You can keep the negative battery cable connected so long as you remove the small wire that runs to the front metal part of the car. Support the transmission on the cross member with your floor jack. Place the floor jack perpendicular to the length of the car so that it rolls side to side, toward and away from the engine. Do this so that you can roll the tranny backward and away from the engine when it is ready to be dropped.

With the jack raised to the crossmember, undo the 4 crossmember bolts with the 17mm socket. Then, allow the weight to be steadilly transfered to the jack and stabilize the transmission as level as possible. It really helps to have a friend around at this point. These trannys don't weigh very much, but the auto tranny weighs more, so you might want to treat this one as though it were an auto as that will be the next on your list.

Roll the transmission on the floor jack backwards to separate it from the engine. You might have to grab the transmission from the top under the hood and gently rock it a bit to separate it from the engine. Do not force it apart; if it feels like there is something holding it back, there probably is.

Make sure that when separating it you don't damage any of the fingers on the clutch cover. Bring the transmission as far away from the engine as possible and make sure that everything clears before lowering it. Once everything is clear and the tranny is clearly separated, use the floor jack to slowly lower it to the ground.

That should be it for the transmission part! These trannys are pretty light, so once it was down, I just lifted it off the jack and had a friend pull the jack out. I then set the tranny down on the ground and dragged it out from underneath the car on the crossmember.

The clutch mechanisms will now be visible on the engine. There are 6 bolts that hold the clutch cover on; find a way to prevent the engine from turning over, I just jammed my prybar into the flywheel teeth, then remove these bolts. Set the clutch cover aside. At the same time, the clutch disk should now be free. Place the clutch disk in a place where it will not come into contact with any contaminants or fluids such as grease or oils (unless the clutch is obviously worn out. Now may be a very good time to get a new one).

You will see that the flywheel is held on by 6 large flat bolts. Mark the flywheel in relation to its placement on the crankshaft. Remove these bolts, then separate the flywheel from the crankshaft. Keep these bolts too as the automatic uses a different kind of flywheel bolt which will be no good.

Now you need the shifter and pedals assembly. The exhaust pipe may interfere with the removal of the shifter assembly, but that was easily taken care of with some brute forcing of the pipe out of my way in my case. It might be wise, if you run into this problem, to undo those 2 bastardly rusty exhaust pipe to manifold bolts; if you can do it without breaking them, and unhook the front of the pipe to allow it to hang out of your way; it should give you more clearance.

I believe this shifter assembly can be removed with the 12mm socket from the interior of the car. On the inside of the car, lift up on the rubber shifter boot to reveal the 4 perimeter nuts. Remove those 4 nuts and the shifter should fall through to the ground on the outside underneath the car. Simple enough!

Removing the pedals is probably the next biggest SOB job, so give yourself plenty of time to mess around. First, adjust the seat back as far as it goes, then remove that little plastic panel that is held on by the 2 Phillips #2 screws directly underneath the steering wheel at the bottom of the dash. Be careful not to lose the screws or the the U-clips that retain this cover. Pull of the plastic fuse panel cover and set it aside. Remember, it is extremely important to be very delicate with all of the plastic interior parts as they are up to 20 years old now and can be very brittle.

Remove the dash instrument cluster. More instruction on how to remove this can be found here: see 10th post. It gives you illustrated instructions on how to carefully remove this cluster. It is really only held on by 4 phillips screws accompanied by U-clips.

If need be, use the fuse panel hole to reach up behind the cluster and disconnect the speedo cable and electical connectors, but, since the tranny is out, you can push the speedo cable into the firewall a bit on the engine side to give yourself some slack on the interior side, and if the electrical connectors are long enough, you might be able to bring the cluster out enough to disconnect the cables and wires from behind more conveniently. Once out, set the cluster aside in a safe place.

In the opening where the cluster sat, you should see a black plastic heating duct. Right behind that duct pipe is a bolt that you will have to remove, so either do what I did, and gently pull out on that duct enough to reveal that bolt and force a socket onto it, or, find out how to properly remove that duct and access it without any risk of damaging the heating system. I do believe that the majority of this removal process will involve the 12mm socket.

Now focus your attention to the underside of the dash. Disconnect the clutch cable from the clutch pedal. This can be a little decieving and hard to find. The area where the clutch cable connects is not near the clutch pedal itself but up in between the accelerator and brake pedals. This can be tricky due to the confined space, but remove the two 10mm bolts that retain the cable, pop the cable junction apart, then once the cable is free, shove it out through the firewall to the outside of the car. The cable should now be out and free!

Now comes the tricky part (as if the rest were a walk in the park). This, I found was the #1 most frustrating and yet simplest parts of the entire procedure! You have to disconnect the brake pedal from the brake booster on the firewall. To do this, you have to remove one stupid pin which is retained by one of the hardest to remove cotter pins.

What makes this one so hard to remove you ask? Well unless you have some kind of special tool, you basically have to patiently lay on your back with a pair of side cutters and almost surgically remove the cotter pin. The space is confined, the position is uncomfortable, the pin has that hard red plastic factory glue stuff all over it, and I swear it's made of like some kind of very tough, hard to bend steel.

It is damn near freaking impossible to straighten it out completely which makes it extraordinarilly difficult to pull it out through the marginally small hole that it is placed in. I can easilly understand why this one is so hard to remove; it is like the sole pin that holds the brakes together! Once this is out, rejoice and know that you are almost finished with the manual parts car!

Right in that area that you just finished pulling the cotter pin out from, you will see that the brake booster is held on with four, 12mm nuts. Using a socket extension it the easiest way to take these out, but I don't think it is necessary.

The next step is to move to the steering knuckle where the steering column attaches to the steering rack. There is a bolt that you can remove that will allow the two parts to slide apart. You have to make sure that on re-installation that it goes back in the same way, so it might be a good idea to make a habit of putting a reference mark on before separating it.

There are 3 electrical connectors if I am right, underneath the dash that run to the steering wheel. You have to disconnect these and any other connectors if need be to allow the wheel assembly to come out. On the pedals, you have to disconnect the brake and clutch switches and all other additional electrical connectors if there are any.

Now move your way up the steering column. Remove the 2 nuts that hold the steering column in and pull the steering wheel, column, and ignition assembly right out. I think after this, there should only be 2 more nuts to remove in order to free the pedals assembly.

Once completed, you should have a very bare looking drivers' compartment.


The dash instrument cluster, steering assembly, clutch cable, and pedals assembly should all be free. If you find you are having difficulty removing any of these particular items, check to make sure that they aren't being restrained by something that I failed to mention. I am, afterall, going by memory here and can make further corrections if examination is required.

If I am not mistaken, you should now be finished with your donor car in terms of the needed transmission components. You can always go back and strip other unrelated parts as needed.

Automatic Transmission Removal (the way I did it):

The auto tranny removal is very similar to the removal of the manual transmission, so I am just going to make note of the important differences and items that you will need to keep from the automatic.

One difference is that you are going to have to drain the automatic transmission fluid AND the engine coolant as there are coolant lines that run through the auto trans.

There are more electrical connectors and cables than the manual and additional coolant lines that will have to be removed from the transmission prior to dropping it out.

Before separating the transmission from the engine, using access provided by the removal of the small flywheel cover plate underneath the engine and transmission at the bell housing, turn the engine over by hand and take out the 6 flywheel to torque converter bolts. You can't miss them, they are the bolts that have the Phillips + shape on them. They will come into view one at a time as you rotate the engine.

Removal of the battery and tray may be necessary to gain access to the additional transmission mount found near the drivers' side fender under the battery.

This extra mount has to be removed both from the chassis of the car and the transmission (6 bolts) to allow for movement while dropping the transmission. I'd recommend that the transmission and engine are being supported at this time.

The pedals assembly comes out the same way, but there is an extra cable that joins the ignition switch by the steering wheel to the shifter linkage so that you can only take the key out if the shifter is in park. You will have to disconnect this extra cable in order to remove the steering assembly.

You will have to remove the cable that connects the shifter to the tranny that runs through the firewall.

The auto has a shift console (plastic shroud) that has to be removed (4 Pillips #2 screws). That little black knob on the consle has to be screwed off. The shifter has a couple of 2 pin wire connectors that have to be disconnected. The cables have to be disconnected from the shifter. The shifter on the auto has to be removed from the underside of the car as that is where the 4 retaining nuts are.

You will need to keep the neutral safety switch from the automatic. It is that triangular shaped part where the 8 or so wires run in. Just make sure that the car is in neutral before you remove it so that it remains in the neutral position.


A couple of modifications are of course needed to be done in order to make the conversion sucessful.

The point of no return:

If you've made it this far, being able to put the automatic transmission back in should be of no real concern to you as you have now pretty much devoted yourself to putting the 5 speed in.

Now then, as you may have noticed, the cross member on the automatic looks different and mounts in a different location (a few inches closer to the passangers' side) than the manual one does. No need to panic! The bolt holes for the manual crossmember are already on your automatic! As a matter of fact, the 2 crossmembers actually share 1 common bolt hole.

Now, my car was pretty rusty, so I had some rust accumulation built up in the bolt holes where my new crossmember was going, but that didn't cause any problems whatsoever for me; do keep in mind that you might possibly have to re-tap these threads. One of the bolt holes will be covered by a filler (dead) bolt and possibly undercoating. You will have to uncover this hole by removing this bolt that appears to have no purpose. What you should have in the end are 2 bolt holes at the back and 2 bolts holes in the front parrallel to each other just like the manual donor car.

Now here's what I meant by the point of no return. Have a look at the picture that jaguar,vettes&sprints took to illustrate the part that has to be cut out to allow room for the new shift linkages.


Use a reciprocating saw and or a grinder to cut this old cross member mounting point out, don't try to hit it or chisel it out or you will end up putting holes right through to the interior of the car (not that anybody would try to do that). That's it.

On another note, you will also have to drill a hole through the firewall to make way for the new clutch cable. Right next to the fuel filter underneath the brake booster, you should notice a raised, round, "bubbled out" area on the firewall. If you have the manual donor car, have a look at it for reference. This is the area that you are going to have to drill. Use a drill and a 1 3/8" (1 1/2" will do) metal holesaw while the transmission is still out to drill this hole. Just make sure before drilling that there is nothing on the interior side that can interfere with, or be damaged by the holesaw.

Without the automatic shifter, you will realize that when you put your key into the ignition and turn it over, that you won't be able to turn the key back all the way or take it out. This is because of that cable that I spoke of earlier that prevents you from being able to remove the keys unless the shifter is in park.

Now you dont have the shifter, so whatever will you do? Using the manual car ignition switch could be an option, but then you'd have to use a different key. The steering columns are calibrated for the car they come from, so it would be difficult to just drop the other steering assembly in, unless you want your wheel pointing sideways while you drive straight!

The easiest fix that I found for this dilemma is to pemanently pin the ignition switch so that you can turn your key freely like the manual. Take the plastic shroud off of the steering mechanism from the auto car. Look at the ignition switch where your key goes in. There is that cable attached to it. Remove the cable. There is a pin that moves back and forth with a spring where the cable was attached. This pin is held on by a C-clip. Remove that retaining clip and pull the pin/spring out, but before completely removing the pin, make sure that the ignition is in the full "off" position with the key out.

The modification is easy. Simply find a bolt with a daimeter close to the opening where that pin was and make sure the bolt is long enough to make it out the other side so you can put a nut on it. Turn the key back and forth. It should go all the way both ways and you should be able to remove the key. If you can't remove the key, then you need a fatter bolt. When done right, your ignition switch should turn just the same as the manual one does.

The radiators are slightly different for the auto and manual. The auto of course has the 2 extra coolant lines that run out the bottom for the tranny. You can do 2 things; either swap the rads and put the manual one in -or- simply remove one of those hoses and loop the other one onto it's spot so that you end up with a hose coming out and going right back in. I guess you could also cap the 2 outlets. I just did the loop thing.

Installing the Manual into the Automatic car (again the way I did it):

Re-installation won't be too hard now since you have just dropped out 2 trannys. You should be more or less familliar with how they come out, and really putting them back in is the reverse procedure to removing them.

Repair manuals usually insist that you inspect and replace any faulty parts prior to re-installation. Since it is all apart, it might not hurt to take this advice into consideration; I'm not able to tell you what to look for when diagnosing such components, but most of it is common sense. If you notice parts that are warped or clearly worn out, it might not be a good idea to install them.

Before putting the manual in, make sure that you've:

-Drilled the hole for the clutch cable.

-Installed the new pedals assembly (it is not necessary to connect the clutch pedal electrical connector because there won't be anything to connect to).

-Removed all cables pertaining to the automatic (with the exception to the TV cable which connects to the throttle cable. This one can just be tucked out of the way).

-Kept the neutral safety switch wired in.

-Cut out the old crossmember mount on the undercarriage.

-And looped the small rad hose.

-It might be a good idea to put the transmission in last; so finish all the interior stuff and shifter things first.

You will have to remove the old automatic flywheel and install in its place the manual flywheel/clutch assembly. There is supposed to be a dowel pin on the crankshaft that you line up with when you install the flywheel/driveplate on a manual car, but I do believe that the automatic crank lacks this dowel. One thing that I did notice on my automatic's crank is that there was a circle imprint on it. I aligned the circle imprint with the hole on the new flywheel (I don't know if this is the right way. Oops!). Maybe look into this a bit more before doing what I did.

Clean the mating surfaces of the crank/flywheel to rid of any debris and of course inspect everything before putting it back together. Bolt the new flywheel on using the bolts that were with it on the donor car. Torque these bolts down the same way you would a wheel on your car. Torque specification I believe is 45 Ft lbs. Align your clutch plate using the clutch alignment tool and place the clutch cover on. Torque the 6 bolts down to 17 Ft lbs in the same manner that you did the flywheel.

Here's how I did it:

-Installed new flywheel and clutch assembly.

-Cut out old crossmember mounting point and prepped new mounting holes.

-Drilled hole for clutch cable.

-Installed new pedals assembly

-Re-installed steering column assembly with modifications.

-Re-installed dash cluster and all other dash components/interior electrical connectors.

-Intstalled new shifter assembly.

-Installed sweet shift knob.

-Installed 5 speed transmission.

-Installed and adjusted clutch cable.

-Re-connected necessary engine compartment wiring.

-Re-installed starter.

-Re-connected speedo cable.

-Connected shifter linkages.

-Re-installed driveshafts.

-Re-installed suspension components.

-Replenished engine coolant and transaxle gear oil.

-Re-installed battery assembly.

-Checked everything over.

-Reconnected battery and fired her up!

Make sure you maticulously check and re-check everything over before starting it up. Make sure that you have the car in neutral with the clutch depressed before turning the key.

If you turn the key and all the lights come on the dash as they normally should, but when you try to start it the only thing that happens is the lights on the dash fade out, you probably have a problem with the old neutral safety switch. Turn the safety switch under the hood another click over until it allows the car to fire.

Extra Bits:

A couple of differences that I have to note from my converted car in comparison to a factory manual car are: My car will start in any gear; not only when the clutch pedal is depressed like a real manual car, and my reverse lights no longer illuminate when I back up. Other than these 2 small deals, she runs and drives just like she has always been a 5 speed!


I hope that this tutorial can be of some assistance to those interested in doing the swap. I hope for all those attempting it that your results are as successful as mine. Please feel free to fill in any points that I may have missed out and do not hesitate to ask any questions. I will try my best to help out where ever I can.

Have fun and happy shifting! Now you shouldn't have any problems keeping up with traffic!


Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Sun May 07, 2006 7:19 am ]
Post subject: 

Aamp Great post Karma for the hard work

the first time I did this conversion was as you discribed
as i got older & wiser i would take the engine out install
the clutch & trany less of the P.O. factor
not that much harder to put together then stuff it in

On the wheel /shaft removal i would take cotter pin out use a 17MM wrench (the same size as the lugg wrench)
to remove tie rod nut hit the arm that the tie rod was captured with a hamer the rod end would pop out

Remove lower ball joint bolt 14 MM
MARK then remove the 2 bolts 17MM (lugg wrench) that hold the wheel hub assembly leave put tire on pull the tire out enough to get short shaft then just let it hang
at least thats how we do it south of the 49th parallel... lol

I used the throttle cable from the 5spd parts car in the conversion
The ECM from the manual is a direct swap just remove the AT ECM And plug in the manual one in it's place
the dash pod you can use the AT cluster if you use one with the tach you'll have to run a single wire to the dizzy to get tach signal

good post Trev ------------ were the links/pic ??? lol

Now you know whats next
......................................your next conversion

Start getting turbo parts together for the "WOW" factor

Thank's it was great I will probably read it over and over

Author:  Lihtan [ Tue May 09, 2006 4:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Karma + Stickied, excellent write-up! :thumb2:

Author:  Aamp [ Wed May 10, 2006 10:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thank you very much for all the positive feedback and appreciation.

Although this write up may only help a very small hand full of people, your recognition and knowing that I can assist those in search of these answers makes it all the worth while.

Thank you Lihtan for making this Stickied, and thank you jaguar,vettes&sprints for providing the additional tips/information to make the swap all the more better. It sounds like you have "just a wee bit" more experience than me when it comes to swapping trannies :pirate: .

Once again, thank you also for getting the ball rolling on this project. To me, the improvement is incredible!

As for my next project... Turbo? Though it was listed as one of my future upgrades in my profile, I'm not sure I could do it to my Firefly.

Whatever the next project may be, I shall keep everybody well informed.


Author:  bigbear1969 [ Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Amazingly detailed and humourous write-up!!!

Author:  ben23 [ Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

with the reverse lights problem, you just need to find the wires in the harness for the auto that illuminate the reverse lights, and just splice it to the wires from the reverse switch in the manual. i think it is the red and yellow wires in that harness

Author:  bigbear1969 [ Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

I'm in the process of doing this same conversion on my '91 vert and I have a little problem:

I removed the old, welded automatic transmission mounting point with a grinder, but when I drilled the holes to put the new matual transmission mount on, I realized that the wall of the frame is pretty thin at that spot. I had kind of assumed that when I got here, I would drill holes, tap them and bolt it right on, but the wall of that frame piece looks waaaaaaay too thin to thread with any hope of the bolt holding.

What did you do when you prepped these bolt holes?

Anyone with a good suggestion, feel free to chime in.

Author:  SoloCon [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

I know I am bringing up a very old post, but I have a question. I have a donor Geo with the auto tranny. I will be pulling a 5 speed tranny this weekend. Going off this write up, I would not need anything from the dash would I? I am putting this into a dune buggy thats a stick already. (I will just be using the Geos tranny and engine)

I am guessing I would do a linkage between the tranny and the buggys shift stick.

I am also guessing I would need the ECU from the 5 speed geo as well?

Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

SoloCon wrote:
I know I am bringing up a very old post, but I have a question. I have a donor Geo with the auto tranny. I will be pulling a 5 speed tranny this weekend. Going off this write up, I would not need anything from the dash would I? I am putting this into a dune buggy thats a stick already. (I will just be using the Geos tranny and engine)

I am guessing I would do a linkage between the tranny and the buggys shift stick.

I am also guessing I would need the ECU from the 5 speed geo as well?

Snag the peddles assmbly and clutch cable, and the short shafts you can use the hub asmbly from the A/T

Author:  Aamp [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

Neat to still see this going after four years. I often drive the little blue one that I did the conversion on, it's held up well.


Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Tue Jun 01, 2010 10:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

I wanted to add some more picture's to an exlent post
this is a 1985 Suzuki Forsa (chevy sprint) 4DR
Here is the hump you need to cut out ( notice the bolt just to the right you have to remove to use the stdrd Tran cross member
after the cut
.Here's the cross members the one on your left is the AT Crss Member (note the kick over on the mounting bolts
The one on the right is the one you need for the manual trans
they are acually turned around the hole for the radiator in the manual crss Member is in the back

Author:  TheSilverBullet [ Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

thank you for the thread i will use this guide for my 2000 firefly auto swap.

Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

TheSilverBullet wrote:
thank you for the thread i will use this guide for my 2000 firefly auto swap.

.And if you add some pictures maybe someone will be helped by your good will....jv&s

Author:  MANSON [ Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

There is NO NEED to replace the entire pedal assembly when switching from automatic to manual transmission. I tought I might have to do it but after some thinking and some figure it out, an automatic car pedal assembly can be modified to acept both the brake and clutch pedals from a manual car pedal assembly.

Lucky for me my cousin gave me a manual car pedal assembly ( with all other c omponents because we sitch transmissions from our cars ) and I figure that I can just put the brake and clucth pedals onto the automatic car pedal assembly.

From the manual car assembly I removed the clutch pedal, the little tap it has at the end and the bolt that holds it to the pedal shaft. Then with a grinder I tried to brake the weld that holds the sleeve in wich the
clutch ledal shaft goes inside of. I went to a local harware store and bought a metal sleeve or piece of tube ( makes the same function )

Then I remove the brake pedal by unbolting it from the assebly. Brake pedal carries the sleeve in wich the bolt goes into.

Now to remove the brake pedal from the automatic car pedal assembly. Disconect the brake booster from the pedal. It has a cotter pin wich is harder to remove. Unbolt the bolt that cross inside the brake pedal sleeve and remove the automatic car brake pedal out. The brake pedal from the manual car goes inside, place it aling it, put the cross-bolt (lube it a little bit before crossing the pedal sleeve with it ) and tigjten it. Now conect the pedal to the brake booster. There you have it, a brake pedal the correct size that will not be close to the clutch pedal.

There are 2 holes on the automatic car pedal assembly. You can try to cross the clucth pedal shaft side to side without using a sleeve, but the pedal shaft wil just wobble. This is were that tubular sleeve I bought at the Hardware Store cames handy, I cross it side to side and place the clutch pedal shaft inside it from side to side.

Tricky part is to set both pedal springs, but is not big deal and making a weld to the sleeve that holds the clutch pedal shaft, but I think I can find some hardware nut or washer to hold it at each outside end of the pedal assembly.

This is better that removing pedal assemblies on both cars. Now I have my clucth pedal, my brake pedal and my gas pedal and brake and clutch pedal do not make contact or are closer to each other.

Author:  94gggggeooo [ Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

Where is the neutral safety switch located? Also how do you adjust this? I am having the issue where it wont turn over.


Author:  MANSON [ Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

I have done the AUTOMATIC to MANUAL conversion and I was ready to "fire-up" this baby after a year in hibernation....

Something is wrong...

It won't start when I turn the key

I tricked the ignition switch so the key turns freely and does not lock-up...

Do I need to switch from an automatic transmision ECU to a manual transmision ECU???

There is also a missing part in my manual transmision.... It is a kind of 2 wire plug or switch that goes scrwewd (in front of the arm that the cluctch cable pulls)....

Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

if you still have the AT computer hooked up
you need to run with the AT selecter switch and needs to be set in the park position

make sure the soliniod wire is hooked up on the starter

Author:  MANSON [ Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

Still having some issues.

we started it by direct-jumping the starter.
we calibrated the valves
we put new spark plugs and air filters in it

we still have some issues:

I got no electrical power on the cable that it is plugged to the starter.


I forgot what this cable is for, or its purpose. I do not know if I have to eliminate it.


I need to know what is missing here, what is its purpose


Here is the mess that I got on the shift level department. I do want to use my key to srart it. Do I have to unplug the AT ECU and hi-wire any of those connectors, cross-wire the solenoid cables???? Do I have to use another ECU for the manual transmission?

we jump-started it to fine-tune it. I need to find 2 little pieces on the INTAKE MANIFOLD that hold some vaccum lines to it. The one in the front holds or receives 3 vacuum lines and the one atr the back of the manifold (under the carburetor) holds 2 vacuum lines.

Thanks for your help.

Author:  rocketroy [ Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

I have a couple of questions , if I may...
What......sorry both cars are 91 Chevy sprints....
What do I do with the wires that go to the automatic transmission..I can see them on top of it and they go somewhere
Does the 91 have some kind of ecu and if so where is it......many thanks Roy.

Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MK1 Automatic to Manual Conversion LHD

rocketroy wrote:
I have a couple of questions , if I may...
What......sorry both cars are 91 Chevy sprints....
What do I do with the wires that go to the automatic transmission..I can see them on top of it and they go somewhere
Does the 91 have some kind of ecu and if so where is it......many thanks Roy.

The Natural safety switch the shift Indicator light Leave them alone
The selector swtch Mech unhook from trans and leave the wire harness connected and leave in the car in natural Position( To start car)

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