Editor’s Note: Perhaps the only things Travis Jones loves more than his 1986 Monte Carlo SS are autocross courses and a good challenge. That’s why Travis is on a mission to transform his Monte Carlo from an underpowered, ill-handling daily driver to an Autocross hero. A self-described “GM guy through-and-through,” Travis is a regular on the site OppositeLock, has documented his project on his Instagram page (@sslow6.0), and will give us a first-person account of his build here as a guest writer.
Travis has owned the Monte Carlo since high school. Although he’s thought about selling it from time-to-time, Travis has held on to it for sentimental reasons, even though the car has often sat idle. After his girlfriend inspired him to try Autocross for the first time, Travis started to look at the Monte in a whole different way.
“I became obsessed with taking a 1980s boat and making it handle,” Travis said.
In Part 8 of his Monte Makeover series, Jones takes us step by step through the transmission swap.
Next, remove the brake booster from your vehicle. Be careful not to drop the pin that runs between the booster and your master cylinder.
Then we’ll need to drill the hole for the master cylinder pushrod to come through the firewall. To drill the hole, I used a 1⅜ step drill bit and used every step it had. I drilled mine at about the 11 o’clock position, but 10-10:30 is where it really needs to be so I did some work with a file to make the hole the right size and shape.
Next, assemble the Tilton master cylinder to the SSM bracket, and follow the Tilton instructions on how to mount the remote feed hose. Once the master cylinder is installed to the bracket, take that and the brake booster and reinstall them, making sure the shaft of the master cylinder goes through the hole you drilled.
After that, re-install the pedal set and the four 15mm bolts that hold the booster and pedal set in. Hold off on re-installing the brake pedal so it can be swung out of the way. Take the aluminum hex piece, jam nuts, and rod end provided in the SSM kit and install them to the pushrod and pedal.
Make sure that everything moves free and doesn’t bind through the stroke of the pedal.
Once you’re happy with the pedal adjustment via trial and error, mark the rod end, loosen the jam nut, and remove it to install the Dorman clutch boot over the whole assembly and attach to the firewall. Additionally, I used sound deadening material to cover the base of the boot and the grommets.
Going back under the hood, reattach your master cylinder, and make a bracket for the remote reservoir that attached to the passenger side of your master cylinder, I used a piece of stainless steel I had laying around, and connected the hose provided with the Tilton Master Cylinder Kit. The pedal and master cylinder are now installed.
Once the pedals were installed it was time to start removing the automatic transmission. Depending on your exhaust and crossmember setup, you may or may not have to remove the exhaust, crossmember, or both.
With the flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate installed, I decided to mock up the transmission to determine where the shifter would come through.
First, I measured from the front of the bellhousing to the rear of the shifter- base attachment point. It was about 25 inches.
I added a little bit of extra material to account for “build variation” and decided to mark the tunnel at 25.5 inches. From there I made a cardboard template of the shifter mounting surface. I wanted to make sure that I could remove the shifter from the trans in vehicle if I later decided to change shifters. Then I drilled pilot holes at 25.5 inches to find the location from inside the car, and then used the template I made to mark the tunnel and cut the hole.