Next up was the transmission. Please let me apologize - I know China will be calling about their wall.
I didn't have my heart set on any particular transmission, but I was thinking about a good C4 with a reverse manual valve body (no brake). Of course, I'm not exactly a transmission expert. Maybe a C6 or a Glide would be better - maybe something else I hadn't considered. So I started shopping. Unfortunately, we live in a very rural area. There are no speed shops or local racing transmission builders to my knowledge. So I had to begin a new quest to learn what I needed to learn - so I could buy what I needed to buy. It turns out ... that wasn't so easy.
I began my search by calling a few shops within driving distance (Lexington, Huntington, Columbus, etc.). No luck. So I tried to sort through it myself with my Summit catalog - then Jegs - to no avail. I even called the Summit "specialists" for help assembling a tranny package. When I told the kid on the phone that I was putting a 351w/C4 combo in my 84' Mustang, he said "I don't show a part number for that combination. Is that a 5.0?" Wow!
Then I tried the forums and boards - to see if there was one universal race-tranny guru out there. One dude in Michigan seems to be highly regarded ... but everyone says he's a jerk. Outside of that, I was unable to sort through all the conflicting advice, miscellaneous complaints of this and that, this brand sucks, that brand rules, you should buy this, I would never buy that, etc ... along with the intermixed posts from enthusiastic 12 year-olds. Abandon ship.
All I wanted was to find someone who knew what the heck they were talking about AND would sell me a transmission with all the components I would need for my project. So I sat there, with Visa card in hand, becoming increasingly frustrated. But since I'm not that easily dissuaded ... I came up with a new plan - the shotgun approach. Using my highly refined Google skills, I found two-dozen shops (transmission shops, speed shops, racing shops, rebuilders/manufacturing facilities, etc.) that at least seemed to know what a reverse manual C4 was ... AND I SENT LETTERS TO THEM ALL.
After contacting 25+ places, I got only 9 responses. Among those who did respond, most didn't take the time to actually read my letter, so their quotes were either incomplete, haphazard, or they told me to call someone else. One company sent me a list of parts recommended by the secretary, and one guy said he couldn't sell me a transmission until I measured my headers.
Anyway ... after all that, I ended up getting 3 serious responses: one from J.W. Performance, one from JR at Dynamic Racing, and one from Bob at D&D Automotive Specialties. J.W. Performance was clearly the most professional organization, but I was a little sticker-shocked by their quote. Bob at D&D seemed pretty enthusiastic, and after filling out his 50 page technical questionnaire, he came up with (what seemed to be) a really good quote ... but he didn't quite get the "all inclusive" nature of my request. I still had to seek other parts from other places - he didn't sell this - he didn't sell that. Urgh!
JR at Dynamic Racing took a different approach. After bouncing emails back and forth with me a few times, he just took the initiative and called me at my office. We spoke at some length - nice guy - and he seems to know his way around race cars and transmissions. He was even patient with my OCD questioning techniques. So there I had it ... someone who knew what the heck they were talking about, AND someone who could sell me the right pile of parts I needed. His quote was about $1,000 under the J.W. Performance quote, so I had to pull my Visa card back out and order his package. I know ... you get what you pay for - but I wasn't really sure exactly what I was paying for anyway, so that point seemed moot.
A month later, it all arrived. It looks great. I'm confident JR hooked me up right. And imagine my surprise when I noticed that my bellhousing and flexplate were the "Ultra-Bell" and "The Wheel" varieties from J.W. Performance. Huh!!! So I guess I did - in a roundabout way - buy some of my parts from J.W. Performance ... I still don't understand that industry. Anyway ... here's what I got ...
1) C4 Competition Transmission, Small Case, Reverse Manual Valve Body, No Trans Brake, 700 HP Max
2) SFI Bellhousing (for 1969 351w)
3) SFI Flexplate (for 1969 351w) Ext Bal 28oz
4) Transmission Cooler w/electric fan
5) 8" Racing Torque Converter (4000-4200 stall) as Discussed
6) Winter's Sidewinder Shifter for C4 w/Rev Pattern with Hardware
7) Synthetic Tranny Fluid
New tranny setup? Check!