News: Shelby GT350 Transmission

0 Shelby GT350 Transmission

Sixth Sense

A Tremec 3160 six-speed directs power from the GT350’s 5.2-liter engine

By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company

We know a special engine powers the Shelby GT350 and GT350R. The 5.2-liter V-8 sports a game-changing flat-plane crankshaft, which beefs up its midrange torque and extends the engine’s rev range. The result is an impressive output of 526-horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, which adds up to over 100 horsepower per liter.

The shifter that sits atop the Tremec 3160 in the Shelby GT350 is said to be lightweight and feature a low-friction pivot ball and linkage joints. Said to deliver low-effort, short shift throws, the shift rail features shift-rail detents designed for positive shifts.
The shifter that sits atop the Tremec 3160 in the Shelby GT350 is said to be lightweight and feature a low-friction pivot ball and linkage joints, which delivers low-effort, short shift throws. The shift rail features detents designed for positive shift feel.

To make the most of that engine, you need a transmission that is strong enough for the task, but doesn’t weigh things down. The gearbox that answered the call for this high-revving combo is a GT350-specific version of Tremec’s 3160 six-speed manual transmission.

“Any transmission backing this engine requires a certain amount of high-power, high-rpm capability,” Jeff Albers, Ford powertrain engineering supervisor, said.

The 3160 balances durability and weight in a modern package. It features a unique clutch housing and a shortened rear housing featuring strategically placed ribs for strength. Its 3.2-inch center-to-center distance is said to allow for a high torque capacity inside that compact package. Of course, being small and stiff helps ward off those three words manufacturers dread—noise, vibration, and harshness.

The GT350 3160’s gear shafts are power honed after heat treating, which is said to reduce gear lash and improve smoothness.
The GT350 3160’s gear shafts are power honed after heat treating, which is said to reduce gear lash and improve smoothness.

Inside, it features a gun-drilled main gear shaft, which reduces weight. Its gears are power honed after heat-treating to reduce weight and improve smoothness. And, its synchronizers are built from a blend of carbon and bronze to offer improved shift feel and heat resistance.

In the case of the GT350, heat was an area that engineers focused on. If you plan to take yours to the racetrack, you should consider the Track Package or the R-model, as they both feature an air-to-oil transmission cooler fed by a gerotor pump in the transmission. In applications without the cooler, the transmission features neither the pump nor the plumbing needed to support the cooler, which is mounted right behind the front fascia and fed ambient air.

The 3160 employs carbon-bronze triple-cone synchronizers, which are said to offer the feel of bronze with the heat-resistance of carbon.
This 3160 employs carbon-bronze triple-cone synchronizers, which are said to offer the feel of bronze with the heat-resistance of carbon.

Whether it is fitted with an external cooler or not, the Tremec 3160 features the following ratios: First Gear: 3.253:1, Second Gear: 2.233:1, Third Gear: 1.611:1, Fourth Gear: 1.243:1, Fifth Gear: 1.00:1, and Sixth Gear: 0.629:1. From what we could tell in the passenger seat, this gearing combined with the 5.2-liter’s elastic powerband proves to be a happy combination on the road course.

Clearly, Ford Performance engineers worked with Tremec to craft a gearbox that follows suit with the rest of the GT350 program, focusing on maximum performance in the lightest possible package.

Described as “I-section” gears, the 3160’s cogs are milled to trim unneeded material and reduce weight.
Described as “I-section” gears, the sides of the 3160’s cogs are milled to trim unneeded material and reduce weight.
The main shaft is gun-drilled to reduce weight.
The main shaft is gun-drilled to reduce weight.
Bridging the gap between the Voodoo 5.2 and the Tremec 3160 is a dual-mass flywheel, which is said to improve shift smoothness and reduce NVH.
Bridging the gap between the Voodoo 5.2 and the Tremec 3160 is a dual-mass flywheel, which is said to improve shift smoothness and reduce NVH.
The GT350’s dual-mass flywheel also allows for a lighter clutch assembly without damping springs. The small-diameter clutch features a die-cast housing. Combined, this clutch and flywheel package is said to allow quick shifting.
The GT350’s dual-mass flywheel also allows for a lighter clutch assembly without damping springs. The small-diameter clutch features a die-cast housing. Combined, this clutch and flywheel package is said to allow quick shifting.
If you do happen to get the transmission too hot, there’s a sensor on the case that will trigger a warning light in the gauge cluster so you can pull into the pits and let things cool off.
If you do happen to get the transmission too hot, there’s a sensor on the case that will trigger a warning light in the gauge cluster so you can pull into the pits and let things cool off.

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