This was going to be a very long winded, step by step installation procedure on making your manual car an auto. Here's the condensed version.

I recently converted my column shift, 3 speed manual S Series, to a Push Button Torqueflite. While I could give a lengthy description of how this was done, I won't. Rather, I'll tell you some of the things of importance that I came across during the conversion. For those that want more detail about how to do it, contact me.

I had various reasons for changing :

1. I was sick of not having syncro on first.
2. the manual box was a pain in that I was constantly getting rough changes, and my clutch always needed adjusting.
3. I had a torqueflite once before, and was really impressed with how smooth they were. I also like to drive in a more relaxed fashion, especially in traffic, and the auto allows that.
4. This is a silly one, but people were always commenting on my car, and saying "They're the ones with the push button gears, aren't they ?" ....well, now it is.
I knew the job was a big one. Firstly, I had to track down a box. I wanted one out of another S, and knew that I also wanted absolutely everything that went with the auto, so I didn't have to chase bits. I was lucky in that I bought the box, linkages, oil pipes, pushbuttons and cables from Club member Peter Kommer, who had advertised them in the Club Magazine, along with various other parts. It cost me $200.

I knew that there were 2 cables, one for gears, the other for park brake. The buttons came with the bracket that goes behind the black dash surround. All the buttons were there, and the button mechanism was intact. One of the oil pipes was broken, but I had it repaired. What I was still needing was the pipe connectors that fit into the radiator, the kickdown mechanism ( one of the things missing from the linkages ), and a different starter relay to suit the automatic.

One thing missing which was to prove an eventual problem, was the auto steering column. I didn't think this would matter at the time, because I could get by with just removing the gear stick. I was wrong. Anyway, John Pulo came to the party with the kickdown, David Smith with the radiator connections, and I had a spare auto starter relay in my garage for some reason.

When the box was in, I had to drill holes for the cables to go through the firewall, and another 3 holes, for the kickdown bracket that also bolts to the lower firewall. Thankfully there are already 3 impressions in the firewall that show you exactly where to drill. At this time I also realised that a wire was needed to run from the starter relay to the reverse switch on the gearbox. A simple job. You merely look at the wiring diagram for an auto, and compare the different starter relays.

Adjusting the gear cable that goes into the box is a real fiddly job, which I still haven't mastered. Although I do have gears, occasionally it is hard to find neutral from drive. I sometimes have to push reverse, then neutral for it to engage. The job is simply a matter of rotating a disc on the box where the cable goes in. Too much and it throws your gears out, just a turn at a time until you have it right. I intend getting mine set by an auto mechanic.

As I said before, I intended leaving the manual steering column in place. BIG MISTAKE. First, I tried putting the filler tube for the box in. Because of the connections on the bottom of the column ( for the linkages ), you can't get the tube in properly. So, I bent it. I couldn't believe that Chrysler made so little room for access to the tranny dipstick. In bending the tube, I managed to damage the base of the tube and the "O" ring, hence I leaked oil everywhere on returning from a drive. You see, the reason you can't use the manual column is that it is much thicker at the base than the auto one. The auto column has merely a shaft coming from the firewall, and allows easy access to the tranny filler tube and dip stick, whereas the manual one is thick column all the way to where it bolts onto the steering box. I now have a column to put in, but for the time being, have had to leave the stick out.

The job of putting an auto in is an easy one, but for someone who's never don it, it is VERY painstaking and time consuming. I installed it all myself, and in the process dropped the box on my arm whilst connecting it to the rear of the motor, and thought I'd broken it ( my arm, not the box ). The process of taking off the old flywheel, and installing the auto flex plate, then lining everything up, and connecting it on your own is a chore I don't wish on anyone. It may be easy if you have the space and equipment, but I was working in a single garage, on car stands, with a K-Mart trolley jack.

So what's the verdict.......

I love the auto. It runs great. And if anyone is thinking of converting but is worried about how complicated the process is, here's my tip :

So long as you have EVERY bit that you need for the conversion, it's really only a matter of preparing to spend a bit of time under your car. Sure, it is a pain at times, and yes, I swore like a trooper on occasion. But, if a pleb like me can do it, then blind Freddy can. I guess I was lucky in that the box I got seems to be OK. I probably should have had it reco'd, but money didn't permit. Also, as stated, I still have to have the whole lot "fine tuned" by a proper auto guy, but I have taken it on some VERY long runs, and it hasn't missed a beat. For more detailed info on what is involved, give me a call.

So much for the condensed version, huh ???? Sorry.

Added on 3.1.99 - I have decided that the box really needs reconditioning, but it runs well enough to get it around at the moment. At one stage I was leaking heaps of tranny fluid, and found that my gear select, and park brake cables had touched onto the extractors, and melted, thereby leaking fluid everywhere.
I replaced them with cables from a 1963 AP5 Valiant, which are a little longer in overall length, but do the job nicely.
I therefore advise anyone attempting a conversion to make damn sure the cables underneath the car are well secured and out of the way of the exhaust.

Added on 12.8.2001 Well, it's been a long while since adding to this page, but shortly after realising I needed another box, a mate ( Big John Pulo - a good man ) offered me another second hand one. Goes like a champion and I'm more than happy with it.

Also, if for some reason you find that park doesn't engage properly, check the most obvious things first......don't do what i did. I stuffed around trying to get it just right under the box when the REAL PROBLEM WAS - the little circlip on the mechanism behind the dash, which holds the cable on, had come off.

Peter Morthen