00 How To Pair a Ford 352 Engine To A GM 200-4R Transmission

Backing a Ford 352 engine with a GM 200-4R transmission!

By Rob Fortier – Photography and Videography by Ryan Foss Productions

I remember back in the early ’90s I went to great lengths swapping the Saginaw three-speed in my ’54 Chevy Bel Air for a Muncie 4-speed transmission and a Powerglide ring-and-pinion. When all was said and done, yes, I had a much beefier transmission in which to bang gears and the freeway speeds were a bit easier on the rpm, however, for the time and money spent I can’t say that I was all that impressed.

01 Engine to transmission adapter kit from Wilcap Co.
All it takes to—excuse our language—put a GM TH350/400 or 200-4R/700-R4 behind a ’58-76 Ford FE (332-428ci) is the above-pictured adapter package from Wilcap Co. Their 390-350 kit includes everything shown, minus the actual transmission and torque converter, of course, to perform the swap from the OE Ford trans to a three- or four-speed automatic. The modified high-torque Mopar starter is available from Wilcap as well.

A few years later I acquired a ’55 Chevy Stepside which, lo and behold, had that same 3-speed gearbox with reverse—this time, however, behind a 350 small block. When the opportunity arose to swap out that manual transmission, let’s just say the word Muncie was not on the tip of my tongue. While I did opt for a 4-speed transmission, in this case I went the automatic overdrive route and the outcome was anything but mediocre. From that point on, any transmission upgrade I’ve done has been so with the intent to add that crucial overdrive element—whether it was the TREMEC TKO behind the 235 in my ’53 Chevy 3100 (as well as my Flathead-equipped ’33 Ford) or the 200-4R transmission in my ’53 Bel Air.

03 Crucial to shifting the transmission uses a TV cable needed for longevity
With the 700/200 overdrives, unless it’s a later production transmission (to the best of my knowledge), you need to “efficiently” control the shifting via cable. But unlike a traditional kickdown, such as the TH350/400 used, the overdrive’s TV cable is crucial to the transmission’s performance and longevity, and thus the use of a proper connection to the carburetor/throttle body is important. For those reasons, we chose to go with Lokar’s 200-4R cable and bracket/spring kits.

Read More: Alluring Sterling Silver 1956 Ford F100

Speaking of 200-4R overdrives, it was that above-mentioned swap that sold me on the beefed-up, compact 4-speed automatic as a perfect option for smaller-spaced applications (in lieu of a 700-R4 or 4L series) without sacrificing performance and durability. While the cores are not as common as the bigger 700s due to lower manufacturing numbers, they are still available (remanned, and new from Hughes Performance; Phoenix Transmission offers full levels of 700s as well as TH350/400 and an array of 4L series applications; and Bowler Transmissions offers 700-R4 packages).

04 Since the F100 was not a factory automatic, we had to add a transmission cooler from Derale_s
Since our F-100 was a manual trans truck, its radiator was not equipped to cool an automatic, obviously, so we obtained Derale’s stacked-plate 10000 Series remote cooler to keep the 200’s fluid efficiently cool.

The important factor when choosing any overdrive is whether you want to go electronic or manual control—if the latter, you’re limited to the 200/700 series. When the opportunity arose to swap out the 3-speed manual transmission in the ’67 F-100 in our shop, well, let’s just say none of the Ford ODs were the first options to come to mind … at least in my mind, that is.

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05 Here is the factory 3-speed manual transmission for the _67 Ford F100
Transmission options for ’67 Ford light-duty F-100s included Cruise-O-Matic four-speed auto, four-speed manual top loader, and the standard three-speed manual you (kinda) see pictured here. This old workhorse gearbox has seen the last of its days behind the 352 FE it was factory installed behind over 50 years ago.

A GM transmission behind a Ford engine, you ask/scoff? And if so, how so, you ask? Yes, and, for starters, it’s as easy as picking up the phone and ordering a transmission adapter kit from a name many a hot rodder ought to be very familiar with: Wilcap Co. in Pismo Beach, California. Since the late ’40s, Wilcap (short for Wilson-Capanna for the two owners at the time, Red Wilson and Tony Capanna) has been producing machined ways in which to mate engines and transmissions, among other things, that were never originally intended to be mates, so to speak. And since 2002, Patrick McGuire has been keeping that tradition alive—offering a wide array of adapter kits … including the 390-350 kit that allows users to bolt a GM TH350/TH400/700-R4/200-4R behind the ’58-76 Ford FE series V8 (332-428 ci) that we acquired for said swap.

Wilcap’s 390-350 engine to transmission adapter kits include the following: their in-house machined and Blanchard-ground aluminum adapter plate, steel flexpate with brand-new ring gear, billet crank spacer, alignment dowels, and all necessary Grade 8 hardware. Additionally, we acquired the Mopar mini starter specifically modified for use with this application.

06 We removed the stock transmission crossmember for relocation
The stock trans crossmember was relieved of its rivets rather than quickly cut out, as it will be relocated further back and reused for the new transmission.

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To manually control the shifting of our 200-4R, we chose to use Lokar’s TV kick-down cable system (KD-2200RHT) and carburetor throttle bracket (SRK-4000). Since the F-100’s radiator was ill-equipped for automatic transmission cooling capabilities, we obtained a Derale Series 10000 stacked-plate remote transmission cooler to mount below the radiator itself. And other than supplying our own urethane tailshaft mount, the only other thing we had to provide was the time in which to perform the swap. (Of course, the aid of Harbor Freight’s transmission jack and support stands greatly helped too!)

For all you non-purists who have stuck around—follow along as we modernize this beautiful old Ford Bumpside’s highway drivability. Next month, in lieu of modifying the three-on-the-tree, we’ll wrap things up with a new steering column install to accommodate the actual shifting requirements.

07 We modified the exhaust system for our new transmission
Rather than remove the entire exhaust system just to provide R&R access for old and new trans alike, the passenger side was cut at the H-pipe and dropped out of the way.
08 The passenger side was cut at the H-pipe and dropped
Rather than remove the entire exhaust system just to provide R&R access for old and new trans alike, the passenger side was cut at the H-pipe and dropped out of the way.
09 The driveshaft is removed and the transmission is removed via harbor freight transmission jack
With the driveshaft removed and side-shift linkage disconnected, inventoried, and boxed up (to accompany the old trans wherever its next life may take it!), the stock gearbox was safely extracted using Harbor Freight’s hydraulic tranny jack.
10 We begin removing the odds and ends connected to the Ford 352 engine
Next to go: everything mounted to the rear of the FE … clutch linkage, starter/bellhousing, clutch assembly, and flywheel. The only thing we want to see is the back of block, crank flange, and miscellaneous freeze plugs (which were appropriately addressed for any potential leakage issues!).
11 We checked for leaks on the back of the Ford 352 Engine
Next to go: everything mounted to the rear of the FE … clutch linkage, starter/bellhousing, clutch assembly, and flywheel. The only thing we want to see is the back of block, crank flange, and miscellaneous freeze plugs (which were appropriately addressed for any potential leakage issues!).
12 Wilcap engine to transmission adapter kit needs to be prefit to the transmission
The Wilcap machined-aluminum adapter plate needs to be prefit to the transmission to determine if any trimming is required for starter clearance—which in this case, it did.
13 Ours needed some clearance for the starters
The Wilcap machined-aluminum adapter plate needs to be prefit to the transmission to determine if any trimming is required for starter clearance—which in this case, it did.
14 The lower casting around the mounting point needs to be reworked for the Mopar gear-reduction starter
The interior casting around the lowermost mounting point on the passenger side needs to be relieved in order for the bendix shaft of the Mopar gear-reduction starter to not interfere. We trimmed little by little until the shaft could operate freely.
15 We trim little by little to make the adapter kit work
The interior casting around the lowermost mounting point on the passenger side needs to be relieved in order for the bendix shaft of the Mopar gear-reduction starter to not interfere. We trimmed little by little until the shaft could operate freely.
16 We added an AN fitting to our transmission for our transmission cooler
The next modification that was done to the trans was simply to accommodate the A/N lines for our Derale fluid cooler. The line ports were carefully tapped to accept 9/16 OBR fittings.
17 The line was ported for the AN fitting 9_16s
The next modification that was done to the trans was simply to accommodate the A/N lines for our Derale fluid cooler. The line ports were carefully tapped to accept 9/16 OBR fittings.
18 We intalled the adapter plate onto the 352
Once our quick-and-easy mods were handled, the Wilcap adapter plate/crank adapter were installed onto the 352. The dowels with offset opposing studs accommodate the variance in bell patterns.
19 The dowels with offset opposing studs accommodate the variance
Once our quick-and-easy mods were handled, the Wilcap adapter plate/crank adapter were installed onto the 352. The dowels with offset opposing studs accommodate the variance in bell patterns.
20 The flex plate is installed after checking clearances
After verifying proper fit and clearance of the adapters, the flexplate can then be installed using the supplied Grade 8 hardware.
21 we pre-filled with ATF before installing our converter to our 200-4R transmission
With a 200/700 overdrive, you can either run a lockup or non-lockup converter—or run the lockup without providing an electronic means in which to disable at lower rpm operation when you don’t want it locking up or “hunting.” Regardless, prior to installation, whichever converter you use needs to be pre-filled with ATF before you install into the transmission.
22 After filling the torque converter we pair it to our 200-4R transmission
With a 200/700 overdrive, you can either run a lockup or non-lockup converter—or run the lockup without providing an electronic means in which to disable at lower rpm operation when you don’t want it locking up or “hunting.” Regardless, prior to installation, whichever converter you use needs to be pre-filled with ATF before you install into the transmission.
23 Using the Harbor Freight Hydraulic transmission jack helps make the install a breeze
Using the very same Harbor Freight hydraulic tranny jack that aided in the initial removal, our new 200-4R was hoisted up into its new home in the F-100.
24 The urethane tailshaft mount supplied with the transmission doesn_t fit
The taller urethane tailshaft mount supplied with the trans was just that—too tall. So, we obtained an OE-style rubber encapsulated mount from Autozone to keep our driveline angle within spec along with the relocated trans crossmember.
25 OE-Style rubber was used to replace the mount from AutoZone
The taller urethane tailshaft mount supplied with the trans was just that—too tall. So, we obtained an OE-style rubber encapsulated mount from Autozone to keep our driveline angle within spec along with the relocated trans crossmember.
26 Do not throw away the instructions! The TV cable is a bit tricky
While the OE dipstick is simply a “plug-and-play” install, the TV cable, while technically the same, requires a bit more effort—Lokar’s instructions should be kept and referred to, not discarded like we do with most other instruction sheets! Throttle pressure is important, so ensure that your cable slack it set precisely as instructed before driving the vehicle!
27 Throttle pressure is important to keep the cable slack set precisely
While the OE dipstick is simply a “plug-and-play” install, the TV cable, while technically the same, requires a bit more effort—Lokar’s instructions should be kept and referred to, not discarded like we do with most other instruction sheets! Throttle pressure is important, so ensure that your cable slack it set precisely as instructed before driving the vehicle!
28 The AN equip hose for the transmission cooler from Derale
We fashioned up the appropriate AN-equipped hose for the trans fluid supply/return lines to and from our Derale aluminum stacked-plate-style cooler that we ultimately mounted to the forward-facing side of the front crossmember, as shown.

Wilcap Co.
(805) 481-7639
wilcap.com

Lokar
(877) 469-7440
lokar.com

Derale
(800) 421-6288
derale.com

Harbor Freight
harborfreight.com

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