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Projects 1955 Caddy 331 - Traditional Rod Build - Transmission Help Wanted

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by KustomRocket88, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. KustomRocket88
    Joined: Dec 12, 2009
    Posts: 291


    There wasn't too much other than one other thread on this matter with the '55 Caddy 331. Has anyone used this in a traditional rod build, or have an article, or a neat little tidbit on someone who used this setup back then? I'm finding problems with linking up a decent stick shift setup (wanting to go with the three speed), it seems I'd have to use the '54 and earlier block.

    Problem is I have the option to get a '55 Caddy & hydramatic setup for $300, that turns over but hasn't been run in a few years, fluid in tranny is still bright red according to the ad, etc. Part of me is thinking this is still a good deal...... Or, most realistically, would I be best to hold out for a '54 on back? Has anyone been able to bolt a 3 speed stick setup to the '55 block?

    Any help is appreciated, I don't know Caddy's interchange like I do Chevy. I want to try to go with as direct a setup as possible without using an adapter plate and later 3 speed transmission, but one that's mid '50s on back...if one works someone knows about? Please don't respond with "Just put a 350/350 in it." It's been done a few times...looking for good advice from someone who is at least on the same page and knows the route I'm trying to go. I'm trying to build the rod with no later part than 1958, just because....'31 Model A 5 window coupe (East Coast, not chopped)

    Thank you for your time....
  2. vonpahrkur
    Joined: Apr 21, 2005
    Posts: 905


    Squeak at Bell Auto Parts sells new bell-housings, flywheels etc for 55-63 cad engines that allow a muncie or t-5 trans to bolt up. other than that you can look for an old adapter but they are usually hard to find and then you still have to find a flywheel.
  3. Brock49Ford
    Joined: Aug 20, 2002
    Posts: 511


    I would also recommend using one of Squeak's setups if you want to keep it simple and get stuff now. There are other brands as well that have adapter plates and conversion flywheel/flexplates.

    Most of the adapters made were for the earlier 49-54 extended bell block (they fit the Olds of that same era and beyond). Keep in mind Cadillac only offered manual transmissions until 1952 I believe, they had to be special ordered or in commerical chassis after that. The 55-62 versions exist (aftermarket only, there was not a factory stick bellhousing for the 55-62), just not as many of them. I have a fair amount of bellhousing for Cads and only 3 of them are for the 55-62. Flywheels are another issue. The later starter ring gear is 176 tooth and the early is 145.

    I have a 1960 motor with a Cragar 0302 bellhousing , Scheifer Alum 176T flywheel to a 3 speed top loader in one of my cars. My 28 A has a hydramatic.

    Hope this helps, here are the instructions :)

    Attached Files:

  4. MTABike
    Joined: Dec 20, 2007
    Posts: 13


    As far as I know, using the later block and any manual transmission is going to require an adapter. Cragar made one but I'm not sure if they made it by 58... The earlier block will be easier to "put a three speed behind" but be prepared to spend lots of money to get set up. Look for ambulances or other commercial cars around 1950 for stock items and know that they're side shift transmissions after the "popular" LaSalle style top shift trans ($$). The earlier style block adapts pretty easy to the std Ford trans with a ring as far as bolting up. You also need to determine open or closed drive because that will dictate which trans/engine/rearend combo makes the most sense to you. The advice above about talking to Mr. Bell is very sage, as he's done this conversion a time or two...
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  5. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 5,286


    wescotts for 3 window door hinges,,,>> karl 1-800-523-6279

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