If there was one thing that we griped about with the second-gen Lightning it had to be the transmission, or lack of options for the transmission. The truck was saddled with the heavy 4R100, the same transmission that backed the Super Duty diesels of the day. Intended for heavy-duty hauling, not heavy right foots, the 4R100 isn’t the most impressive slush-box to put behind a high performance machine.

We’ve found at least one enterprising individual who apparently thought the same, and obviously wanted to row his own gears.While Tremec doesn’t offer a direct swap for this application we could come up with a few ways to make this idea work, and one Lightning owner has already done the job and outlined it all for others that will no doubt follow.

Skyler Unruh lost overdrive in his Lightning a while back. Figuring out that the 4R100 was expensive to replace and would likely eventually fail him again, Unruh set out to install a Tremec T-56 six speed in his truck. While Ford never offered this transmission in the Lightning, Dodge did offer it in their SRT-10 pickup. The swap required Unruh to source several parts, including a 26-spline modular engine compatible input shaft. He outlines all the details of how he made it work at the Lightning Garage forum.

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Left: The SRT-10 T-56 used for this swap. Center: The OEM Lightning 4R100 Right: The T-56 Magnum XL, our first choice for this type of swap.

For his swap Unruh had to change out the input shafts, using a Magnum XL would make that a non-issue. Right: SPEC offers 26-spline clutches ready to go for this type of application.

While Unruh utilized a number of aftermarket, and used parts sourced from various internet outlets, we have to think there’s an easier way. Tremec now offers the T-56 Magnum XL in modular engine compatibility, meaning there’s no longer a need to swap the input shaft as is done in Unruh’s swap. The T-56 Magnum XL will also stand up to 700 ft-lbs of torque, making it substantially stronger than many of the old T-56 transmissions found in junkyards or swap meets. It’s also available with two different sets of gear ratios, and comes with a bellhousing.

Three pedals in a Lightning sounds like a lot of fun to us.

F-150’s were available with a 5-speed manual transmission, just not in the Lightning. Thus junk yards are easily sourced for manual pedal assemblies. A clutch slave and master cylinder would also be necessary for this swap. We’d love to see someone release a Magnum XL swap kit for the Lightning, or even just a manuual swap kit that could utilize a TKO-500 or TKO-600, which could cost less to install. Until that happens Unruh’s posting at Lightning Garage offers the most comprehensive info to date on such an undertaking, and shows just how versatile the Tremec line of transmissions really is. For more information on the Tremec line of transmissions, check out their web-site.

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