Converting dad’s truck to an automatic

July 1, 2017 | By Staff


I finally talked my dad into parting with the Ford F-100 truck that he purchased new in 1963. I grew up in this truck and I am in the process of putting it back on the road. The truck has a three-on-the-tree transmission and I want to convert it to an automatic, I would like to keep it original but I have bad ankles and don’t want to be shifting gears if I don’t have to.

The current setup is a motor mount at the front of the engine and side mounts on the transmission with no transmission cross member, so if I install an automatic transmission can I mock up the original setup and fabricate some motor mounts for the side of the motor and install a transmission cross member for the new transmission, keeping the pinion angle the same as the original setup? Also, I was told you can’t put a shifter on the floor for the original transmission because of the linkage, is that true?

If I am able to install the new transmission I want a new steering column too. But the problem with that is the steering column is attached to the steering box as one piece and I haven’t found a steering box replacement available on the aftermarket.


Transmission cross members and mounts are available from several sources, so that should not be a problem. And you are quite correct about the alignment needing to be right. Before you drill the holes for the cross member, put the transmission in and make sure it is lined up properly. You will also need to remove the stick shift flywheel and replace it with a flex plate.

As for the shifter on the floor, if the transmission is a top loader, you can probably fabricate a shifter that will accommodate the bench seat in your truck. The shifter in my 1958 Chevy pickup comes out of the floor back near the seat, but I fabricated a shaft that comes out of the transmission and then goes forward at an angle that allows the range of motion needed to shift, and then bends back again to where it is convenient for shifting. A side loader such as you would have with an original Cruise-O-Matic from the era would need a bit more complicated arrangement, but wouldn’t be impossible.

To go with a new steering column you will need to cut the steering shaft and install a joint at the steering box. Ididit steering columns, sold through Summit Racing, makes excellent modern columns for your truck, and putting in the joint at the steering column is not particularly difficult. However, I would have a pro do that part just for safety reasons. The shaft needs to be cut correctly, and the universal joint needs to be fitted properly for everything to work smoothly. Summit can provide you with a range of transmission cross members as well as columns for automatic or manual transmissions. Give them a call for a catalog

Summit Racing Products PO Box 909 Akron, OH 44309-0909