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Old 12-17-2010, 10:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
dcb
needs more cowbell
 
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pimp mobile - '81 suzuki gs 250 t
90 day: 96.29 mpg (US)

schnitzel - '01 Volkswagen Golf TDI
90 day: 53.56 mpg (US)
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I'm not one for luxuries, but I would say a semi-heated workspace is a requirement for a manual swap (or a stretch of nice weather if outdoors). And even then it will take some planning/resourcefulness and some basic tools. I've done maybe 3 full fledged auto to manual conversions and removed plenty of transmissions.

The simplest approach is to get a parts/salvage car with a stick from a compatible year, and commandeer a two car garage. You want a new clutch disk and throwout bearing while it is apart, but the rest of the parts you need (including clutch pedal and narrower brake pedal and computer) should be swappable from the parts car. There will probably be some other parts that are in better shape that you want to swap over as well. Maybe it has cruise control, or just a non-cracked windshield or a working jack or new tires or something.

Ebay has a parts car category and the right search on craigslist can also be fruitful. My last swap cost me $400 ($300 parts car plus new clutch and etc) and it has paid for itself probably 7 times over in the last 3 years (including gains from manual techniques).

But for a car (especially a cheap one) to be cost effective, you really have to figure out how to do the work yourself, or have some barter arrangement with a friend who has the space/time/skills/tools to help.
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