How To Convert Your L-Body Turbo Dodge From an A525 to an A520 or A555 Transmission
An A525 to A555 transmission swap is fairly common for the L-bodies, and though there are other resources available on-line that describe the cable shifter approach, I discovered the hard way as I went that way the first time that none of those reference sources describe how to do it easily with a conversion bracket versus doing it the old school way using the cable shifter hack borrowed from another cable shifted car. The cable shifter approach was at the time the only way to do it, and I felt there had to be a better way and that is why I/we created the A525/A555 Transmission Conversion Bracket Set.
And a few important tips that are often not discussed in the cable shift approach could make your decision to go with a conversion bracket a no brainer when you consider the following L-body and cable shifter conversion facts.
- You need a suitable 5 speed shifter from an 87-89 turbo dodge 5 speed car. The preferred one is the 5 speed shifter from a 90 Shadow. It is 1” shorter than the 87-88 version and also has a unique bend in it. So the best shifter to use, that puts the knob in a good position for the driver is the most rare 89 Shadow 5 speed shifter. Sure the others will work but the knob is not in the best of spots.
- The cable shifter, any of them will not fit the floor of the L-body car. You have to flatten the floor to accept the shifter mount, you have to seal the floor from where the old shifter use to be and you have to drill holes and install some type of mounting hardware to secure the shifter
- The cable shifter does not fit well under any of the L-body center consoles, you will have to trim/hack them a bit to get a reasonable fit.
- You need the shift cables. Most of the 5 speed shift cables are no longer available and good used ones are getting very hard to fin. The ones that fit best are the Shadow 5 speed cables for the 87-89 cars. Again, not easy to find but they are the shortest of those that were available and fit the L-body the best. Daytona cables also work but they are too long really and will require you to clamp them back to avoid them touching or being too close to the down-pipe of the turbo.
- You need all the C-clips and the brackets from the donor cars transmission and the cables. The c-clips can be found without too much trouble, but the cable bracket and the bobble strut bracket needed for the torque strut can be an issue.
- You will need either a good used or new bobble strut as well as a long adapter bolt with spacers and washers to attach it to the K-frame since the native L-body dog bone attaches to a different spot on the K-frame
- You will have to cut a hole or two in the firewall for the cables to pass through and you will need the cable grommet or fabricate one to keep water and air flow out of the cabin.
OR YOU CAN SKIP ALL THAT AND JUST GET THE A525/A555 CONVERSION ADAPTER SETUP
Using the TurboDodgeParts.com conversion adapter you simply bolt the conversion adapter to your donor A520 or A555 transmission and then bolt it in the car. You can read about and purchase the conversion bracket set here. With the conversion adapter you use the following standard L-body shifter components:
- Factory 4 or 5 speed shifter or a TurboDodgeParts Quick Shifter
- Factory shift rods or any replacement shift rods
- All factory shift levers and pins
- The factory dog bone or a L-body solid torque strut replacement
All of the L-body cars are set up the same, so this approach is the same for all L-body cars including Chargers, Omni, Horizon, TC3, Scamp, and Rampage. There may be some slight differences in your shifter shift rod and lever setup if you are migrating from the early 4 speed to the later 5 speed transmission.
The 525 had small spline axles, the rest of the td's got large spline. There are several ways to accomplish this as well. The easiest way is to use unequal length axles, a bit more involved is the equal length setup like you have stock in a turbo L-body
Unequal length, this is beyond simple, all you have to do is go to your favorite auto parts supplier and buy a front set of axles for a 1988+ automatic omni. The later autos got large spline axles that just so happen to fit perfectly into a 520/555. This eliminates the stock intermediate shaft entirely, you just end up with one long axle and one short one. This is what most people do and torque steer does not seem to be any worse than with the equal length setup, that is the only supposed benefit of equal length that I am aware of.
Another option is to go to the parts store and buy just the drivers side 1988+ auto omni axle, and then go to a junkyard and find the intermediate shaft out of any large spline tranny car. Not so easy any longer. Parts stores don’t sell these so you will have to track one down. Then what you do is split the u joint and attach it to the other half of the stock intermediate shaft that came out of the car, this allows you to have a large spline going into the tranny, but will drop the size down so you just reuse your stock axle after the intermediate shaft. A lot of work for not much gain if you ask me, but to each his own.
TurboDodgeParts A525/A520/A555 Conversion Bracket Set
The Conversion Steps
1. Drop out your 525 and throw it directly into a dumpster. Don’t think twice, just do it.
2.. Put in your new clutch (you did get a new cluthc right?)
3. Bolt the large A525/A555 conversion bracket to the back of the A520 or A555 as described in the installation instructions. This is the bracket that will hold the dog bone torque strut as well as the curved shift lever.
Large Bracket Bolted To Differential Cover
4. Bolt in the smaller conversion bracket using two of the differential cover bolts as shown in the conversion bracket installation faq.
Small Bracket Installed using Upper Differential Cover Bolts
5. Now, install either your factory shift rods or any aftermarket shift rods (like the Quick-Fit set) and factory levers as shown below...and bolt the tranny back in the car. Nothing special here. If it’s a 520/555 it will fit in just like stock A525.The last step would be to attach the dog bone torque strut and then adjust the 5-speed shifter as described in the available shifter adjustment FAQ.
All Brackets, Rods, Levers Installed
(Shown with Street-N-Strip Shift Rod Set)