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Ford Type 9 5 speed transplant


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Anybody done this and any hints or tips?


Planning to transplant into my Mk3 Spitfire.


Have the box, getting the various parts, have read up all I can find but advice from anyone who has actually done the change gratefully received





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It is not an uncommon conversion, and there will be guides/how to stuff on the net somewhere, sadly the old forum here had some useful stuff, but all gone now.

I have a t9 behind a zetec in my spitfire, both my old one (now gone) and my project car. So have an idea.


Big issue is gear lever position, it is very different to the original gearbox. So work is needed to modify the gearbox tunnel.

Buy a new prop from Dave Mac in coventry, better value than modifying your old one I reckon.

Clutch is a bit of an issue. I think Frontline are the only supplier of a suitable clutch plate to fit the existing cover. I would be tempted to get the flywheel modded to take a ford clutch kit. At least then you can get an off the shelf kit rather than rely on a special plate and one supplier.


I am sure others have ideas too....

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Thanks Clive


Plenty to mull over there. I was planning a new tunnel anyways as my 'cardboard' original is somewhat tired.


Is the location forwards (bulkhead) or aft of the standard box? I've seen a remote option that moves the stick location backwards a few inches that might be useful. Need to do some measuring now I have my hands on a donor box.


I've got a short throw stick so that may also need some fettling re tunnel location. I will turn a new gear knob though as the standard is hideous.


I did read somewhere, and hopefully have it archived, that the friction plate is something fairly ubiquitous and daft like a Marina/Ital - will need to dig that out indeed. The idea of reworking the flywheel to take a standard Ford is interesting though and I'll have a measure up.  Guess I could always do that later as a post-modification, modification :)


Do you have a link for 'Dave Mac'? name is unfamiliar to me.



Thanks for the response, very much appreciated.





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The standard gearstick on the t9 is several inches back, close to the handbrake (on my current car the handbrake has moved back several inches too)

Gor gearstick I chopped the end off the t9 and welded a 5/16 threaed section so I could use a nice knob off a herald, very understated. 


On a 2 litre flywheel you can use dolly 1850 clutchplate, so very simple. I am certain the 6 1/2" 1300 clutch does not have a direct fit. I think the 1500 version may have a ford item that is suitable though? maybe 7" from a small engined escort or sierra or whatever.


other propshaft places are good too. I actually used bailey morris, and go the freelander UJ's fitted. But I plan on 150+bhp....

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Hi Lawrence,


I fitted a T9 gearbox to my 1969 Herald 1360 Convertible last winter.  As it is mechanically very similar to the Mk 3 spitfire I hope you will find this information useful.

Regarding the gear lever position, I did not modify the gearbox remote housing, but chose to shorten the handbrake lever by 1.5 inches. 



Firstly, I fitted a modified crankshaft spigot bush, as the T9 has a larger spigot diameter.

A Spitfire 1500 flywheel was fitted (with bolt adaptors)  to accept the larger Ford 23 spline centre plate (Sierra 1.6), a Spitfire 1500 pressure plate was used.

(no adverse effects on engine pick-up/smoothness)



I had to cut away small sections of the flanges on the main chassis legs to allow the gearbox some clearance.

The tunnel had to be cut back by a couple of inches - although this may be different on a Spitfire?

I had to modify the gearbox tunnel, although you can get T9 tunnels now.  Modified tunnel carpet section will be needed.

A Cortina Mk 2 gearbox mount was used - fitted below the flange on the chassis leg to give enough clearance.



I used an adaptor plate, and modified bellhousing centre sleeve.

There is some drilling & grinding of the gearbox casing, and bellhousing required, to reduce this I used Allen headed machine bolts ( a more compact bolt head) to secure the bell housing to the gear box.  Also some shortening of the input shaft may be required.



A new bespoke prop-shaft and speedo cable were fitted.


Please note that every installation is slightly different, and each owners level of mechanical skill/experience will differ.

My conversion took all winter with a fair bit of trial & error, I think the box came out 3 times to get things right !


The end result was a transformed car with a quiet & much stronger transmission, plus the benefit of a 5th gear which drops the revs by about 22%.

She will return 45mpg and cruise at 60mph at about 3000rpm.


Spigot bush                         Flywheel bolt adaptors      Flywheel                         Bolts/nuts        Clutch plates          Speedo cable

Bellhousing centre              (Rimmer Bros)                   (Spitfire Graveyard)        (Namrick)        Gearbox mount      (Speedy Cables)

Adaptor plate                                                                                                                               (E-bay)


(Canley Classics)   


Paul Ballamy           

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  • 4 weeks later...

I didn't know anything about this subject until today. Pleased to see it appears to be a well trodden path. I am presently making several improvements to my GT6 MK3. Amongst other things, it needs a new overdrive and gearbox. There are several problems that indicate this. I have spent the afternoon at Jigsaw Racing which has been great fun, and illuminating. Over and above some Improvements to the engine we discussed options for gearbox and O/D replacement. I was not pushed in one direction or the other, but had it explained that if I was doing both, perhaps I should consider the Ford type 9 gearbox. It's approx £1000 more expensive than doing normal overhaul of the triumph units, but I get a more modern 5 speed gear box, which is apparently stronger, smoother, better for cruising, and better spare parts availability (although hopefully not required). I am a bit torn as I liked my O/D before it failed to function, but I think a more modern 5 speed may be a better solution. I am sure I wouldnt be interested unless I happened to be having my old ones out anyway, so perhaps this is a good opportunity for improvement.

Are there any other GT6 owners who wish they done the type 9 installation... Or more importantly, wish they never had?!

Many thanks,


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Think carefully about all this.

If you fit a type 9, you want to check which gear ratios you will get, most type 9's have a first that is hopelessly low compared to the close ratio GT6 box.


Plus there are some issues with using the short input shaft boxes, it seems many just do not reach the spigot bearing. If you are told it is not a problem (frontline, who produce the kits, seem to know nothing about this issue!)


Be aware of the changes to the interior too.....


And it may be worth speaking to Mike Papworth about getting your box or OD rebuilt. I think you may be surprised about what he can offer, at fair prices. And with an excellent reputation......And unless you are particularly hard on the gearbox, it should last well. 


It is very easy to get lulled into things. I would expect to do a type 9 conversion for about £500-£600 or so? but that is using a secondhand box.

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Ford type 9 gearbox ... better for cruising ...

Really Robin, how so? My research suggested that a Type-9 5th (0.82) wasn't quite as tall as a 25% OD. Was it something else he was suggesting? I agree with Clive about speaking to Mike Papworth before making a decision.



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Thank you all. I take the points about whether or not it fits properly, and that remains my overriding concern. On the other hand, if it wasn't an improvement, then pressumably it wouldn't be in existence as an after market product. Logic would suggest the first person to trial the concept didn't look at the outcome and think 'it's not as good as the Triumph 4 speed + O/D, so I will therefore actively market a sub-standard product'. The Market would have dictated long ago that if it was no good, we wouldn't be having this forum. I imagine the debate is more about whether its perceived superiority (questionable, it seems) is worth the extra money. Of course it is no good for a purist in the Classic Car world, but simply from a functionality point of view, it is fair to give it consideration. I intend to speak with Mike Papworth before being committed one way or the other. At present, I am very much in the 50/50 zone. Thanks again chaps...Robin

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The first people to do the conversion were experimental type people, and the type 9's were selling for £10 a time (I jest not, only 10 years ago) whereas od conversions were even then £200. Plus the type 9 is stronger, and will cope better with uprated engines and cars driven hard. 

Then the commercial companies got involved, notably frontline, who seem to take the approach that if it bolts up, it is OK. But that is not the case. And the disruption to the trim is always understated......

You need to see a converted car to appreciate the extra work involved. 


The other half of the equation is that the quality of many gearbox components has plummeted.  Mike Papworth has an enviable reputation, largely I expect because he reuses good (used) components rather than substandard new parts where appropriate. And I repeat, unless a car is driven hard (standing starts, fast gearchanges and so on) a std, well built gearbox/od will last many years. My last 1500 od has now been in 4 cars I owned, all were used VERY hard in motoring events, and when stripped it was just one synchro that  had some wear and needed replacing (good used one). 

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if you talk to MP about a rebuild of your 4 spd ask about the costs of using a 18mm spigot mainshaft and a modified stem gear to

match, the 1/2" Mainshaft spigot is the weak link in the std gearbox as its a carry over from the standard 8/10 and is the most frequent failure in the std 3 rail box , on a vitesse you need mikes modified stem gear , the 18mm spigot mainshaft is DOLLY vintage



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  • 3 months later...

.On the other hand, if it wasn't an improvement, then pressumably it wouldn't be in existence as an after market product. 

Just like those lead replacement lozenges that are sold by the hundreds on eBay and mean never having to have your head replaced… :)

Personally I’d rather just have my old gearbox refurbished; the more demand there is for the parts, the more rewarding it is for a supplier to stock them or a manufacturer to make them...

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I guess the reality is it's very difficult to make an informed decision without having an opportunity to drive a car that has had the conversion done.


I had to make the same choice about 18 months ago. I didn't have the skill or confidence to do the work myself.


I was told that the Ford gearbox was a very good upgrade and one that transforms the car. However, it was significantly more expensive and I thought it would be difficult to explain this away to my very tolerant wife....


I'd only just become the custodian of my GT6 after a gap in Triumph ownership of about 27 years and I felt I owed it to the car and to Triumph to give the original gearbox a chance.


So off it went to Mr Papworth for a re-build.


So far I'm very happy with the results. I may go down the Ford route at some point in the future, I don't know. 


But there is also the question of at what point a car stops being a Triumph.........

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I think Dave C's last point above invites reflection. Just because it is possible to do something is not, of itself, a reason for doing it! I looked hard at the T9 option when my first (allegedly) rebuilt 1500 box started to sound like a coffee grinder, and in particular at the long and illustrated how-to guide which was (if memory serves) on the old forum. I came to the conclusion that it involved a lot of hacking lumps out of car and gearbox, and a lot of parts mixing and matching neither of which to me seemed ideal. It also seemed bizarre that a conversion using a box which is as common as dirt should cost more than the best available rebuild on what has now become quite a rare item by comparison, with limited spares availability.

I also spoke to one of our most respected and long-standing specialist suppliers, who advised me to stick with the Triumph box. Overall I came to the conclusion that the T9 was a lot of time and money, for a mongrel solution. If there had been a more straightforward option, with a compact modern box and a simple adaptor plate, I might have been tempted, but I am glad I stayed with the Triumph parts bin.

As always, it comes down to individual preference, and how you use your car. If anyone is going down the T9 route, I believe Triumph World ran an illustrated feature on the conversion a while back.


Steve C

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Hi all


As I started this I thought I should contribute.


I sourced a Type 9 off Fleabay and as commented above one needs to be careful as there are several variants not all of which are suitable for transplant to our motors.


In addition I waited until one was local to me and only bought after viewing and having a waggle of the gearstick to ensure everything seemed ok. I also took the top cover off and had a peer inside to check condition. This is also an opportunity to count the teeth on the input shaft to double check the 'box is the version you want. (plus measure the input shaft length sticking out in the bellhousing)


I referred to an old (as in 10 years old) pdf copy of an article 'Taking the 5th' by Kim Henson, Full of must know info.


One thing I did fall foul of was the speedo output. DOH!!!!!! I knew it was all going too well...


As mine is a later version it has an electric speedo output. Not only is this output device as rare as hens teeth to replace (therefore it is on the to be mended list - I should have the skills for that) it seems I now have the added conundrum of what to do with the original Smiths mechanical dial and a pulsed output from the 'box .... more on this later as I figure it out,


However this wasn't just a 'get 5 gears pronto' project and I expected trials and tribulations. The Plan B can always be a standard refurb'ed box and O/D.


Whilst on the topic it seems that some of our far flung Spitfire and Triumph owning chums have used all manner of more modern and available 5 spd boxes but those Toyota variants are not readily available in the UK and bellhousing adaptors not easy to get here either. Whilst I'm up for a challenge fabricating an adaptor is not something I yearn to do (yet)


Anyways, there is info out there and folks have done many and varied transplants. Getting hold of T9 transplant and engineering info (for Spits)  is tricky as the search engines throw all sorts of results back, most of which are not helpful. It has taken hours (ask the wife) and lots of beers (hurrah!) spending evenings surfing the web for pearls of wisdom.


If anybody reading would like the info and links I have collected to date then drop me a line.


Now, having inspected the box in greater detail on the bench back home  - and feeling a lot happier at it's basic condition  - the thinking turns to the problem of the shortened remote ie chopping about 4" off the upper casing and moving the stick location back towards the bellhousing end so it doesn't foul the Spitty handbrake.(i think any GT6 types out there have other issues too re chassis access?)


You can, if you wish, send your box off to one of the main Type 9 specialists to get mod'ed. If I were to so do I would also think about getting the box inspected and refurb'ed too? but thatwould spoil all my planned fun and the box is destined to be in bits all over the bench at some time. Never done a gearbox before.


This is where the T9 box is a good'un in that due to the kit car and racing types there are oodles of specialists out there, and spares. In my case I want to have a go at the mechanical fettling - see earlier comment about it being a Project.


I'm not rushing - plenty of reading and measuring and pondering, Not least of which is due to the fact that;


a) I can't weld (as yet) 

B) have no TIG kit (as yet)


These minor stumbling blocks are about to be resolved with an evening class in welding and the acquisition of TIG kit (and why TIG is another long and involved story...)


In response to a comment in the thread, yes some few years back it seems that you could pick up a T9 for pennies. Now due to the wonders of the internet and particularly Fleabay everybody is aware of their 'desirability' and everybody thinks their pile of rusting crud that has sat in the weeds since 1987 is worth it's weight in gold :(. Advice is, be patient, buy local and take cash so you can haggle. I've seen some ludicrous prices wanted but ended up with an, I felt, reasonable sum to part with.


As for the question of 'standard' and how much Triumph is left? Each to their own. My Mk3 is not concours, it has an unleaded head, alternator, -VE earth, hi-torque starter, MX5 seats, LED lights, more relays and better fuses, electronic ignition and there will be more modern tech applied as I go on to make it safer, handle better, and last longer so I can continue to enjoy the driving experience of my little toy.


At this time it may still all  end in tears - especially if I boll*x up the box mod and welding -  so I have held back on the full transplant goodies and have yet to fork out for the adaptor, new clutch etc, spigot, shorted prop, mounting plate or indulged in a new  'old style' electronic speedo. At worst it will cost me some time and a modest amount and is quite enjoyable while I play. Car still has the orig box and I blat around the side roads avoiding major routes.


Alternatively, if you are really (really!) keen (and have the dosh) - throw it at a specialist and get the car back converted?


For me, I want to do this £'for nothing' and pick up news skills and experience along the way (like taking a Smiths speedo apart and converting to electronic innards!)


Will continue to update my progress  - slow as it is. 



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I applaud your approach.


And the one thing that sticks out is that there are genuine specialists out there who can supply decent parts for the ford box. This seems almost impossible for the Triumph boxes, and the number of boxes for spares (seems the best solution to poor new parts) is drying up.


As to costs, there is little in it if you start with a non-od box. May even be cheaper, as most of the OD boxes on sale at Donnington last year were in serious need of a rebuild, so £200+ for a box to rebuild. Prop is new cost, no different to an all triumph prop and little more than getting an old one rebuilt/balanced. Clutch plate on a spitfire is more admittedly, and you need a bellhousing adaptor. Mounts etc similar. Guess the real difference is changes to the gearbox tunnel.


What I really do not like though is when people look down their noses at cars fitted with (for example) a t9 box and claim it is no longer a Triumph. I wish they would go off and form their own exclusive club where they can be all self-righteous by themselves. Really, it bugs me.

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Very interesting Lawrence.


Is there any chance you can post all the links you mentioned above?


No looking down noses from me Clive. I asked the question, but I don't claim to have the answer and as I have said earlier I don't rule out a T9 conversion in the future. I'd certainly like to test drive one.


What does constantly impress me is people's skills, innovation and ingenuity both in designing modifications and overcoming problems along the way.



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Indeed. Anything that means the cars can be used reliably and regularly as intended. And I like it when people are inventive and progress the cars. I also like seeing some very original cars too, but to me the enjoyment is in using them.


I can understand using overdrive in preference to a T9 for all sorts of reasons. It makes sense, but then again so does a t9 especially if a car has no overdrive. Not  so sure about the supplied kits though, frontline appear to have little understanding of the 6 cylinder conversion. Maybe we will bump into each other sometime, and you could try my Triumph which is t9 equipped (along with a zetec, amongst other subtle modifications).

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Hi Pete


Please keep looking for that article!


In the meantime, until I formally collate my stash of Type 9 info, this is a sample of useful links.


The definitive T9 box guide and what to buy - and what not to! -  'Taking the Fifth'




A useful article on the short throw surgery, albeit for a Scimitar.




This one does what it says on the tin but validate the info against 'Taking the 5th' I would advise.




useful but not a shortened remote mod'ed box as far as I could see?




some useful generic T9 stuff with links to exploded/parts diags.




Ford Gearbox geek heaven link.....




bit more on shortened remote - on a GT6




lots of these wander off to other threads, bit like following Alice down the hole so be warned.


The generic info on Frontline etc, etc, for the adapter kits & bits  I won't bore you with here. These are easy pings on the searches.


A definitive blow by blow on a Spitfire conversion, with piccies, and tips etc I have yet to find - so if anybody has or knows of one I would be grateful (as mine will take a year or so judging by current progress....)



Have fun. 

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