Everything you would ever want to know about Mazda gearboxes

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Everything you would ever want to know about Mazda gearboxes

#1 Post by Spac » Sat Nov 30, 2002 2:38 am

Gearboxes


The Mazda RWD gearboxes can be broken down into four groups:
Early piston
Smooth case
RX-4 type
Clamshell

1. The Clamshell boxes were fitted to very early cars only. They can easily be identified by their construction – the main casing is made from two pieces, joined vertically. The bell-housing is removable, and is held onto the case with SIX bolts. These gearboxes were fitted to 1500, R100 and 10A RX-3. The RX-3 has the usual twin dizzy top mounted starter, but the R100 has a bottom mount starter, meaning there are three different types of bell-housing available for these gearboxes (including the piston one).
*Input and output shafts have few (14?) coarse splines.
*Many 1500s were column shift.
*Shifter length (reward distance from motor) varies between R100 and RX-3.
*Early R100 boxes have a rough sand cast finish, particularly on the extension housing, and also have needle roller bearings for the tail-shaft.

The boxes are reasonably strong for their age. They are also helped by the fact that they were never required to withstand anything more powerful that a 10A. Abuse will result in any number of different breakages occurring – jamming in gear, breaking input shafts, shearing teeth off gears, and/or opening up the two halves of the case.


2. The Early piston boxes were fitted to all piston cars before the first 323. These gearboxes can be identified by their small size, external webbing, integral bell-housing and ‘sculptured’ shape. The smaller engined cars (1300, 1300cc 808) have a smaller version compared to the Capella, 929 and 1600cc 808 – most significantly the input shaft is a smaller diameter, compared to the 22-spline shaft fitted to the larger cars.
These gearboxes are the forerunners to the later Smooth case gearboxes and as such do have some similarities. However, as these boxes are only available in 4-speeds for the piston engines there is little interest in them.
Behind standard piston engines, they will be strong enough for most needs. Severe abuse usually results in a loud internal grinding noise and replacement of the entire gearbox – nobody ever bothers to even have a look at what broke…

3. Smooth Case. These were Mazda’s mainstay from the late 1970s into the mid eighties, and so were fitted to RWD 323s, RWD 626s, 929Ls, HB (“Cosmo”) 929s, 1st Generation RX-7s, 12A Turbos, non-turbo Series 4 RX-7s, and many vans and utes.

They can be identified obviously by their smooth case, and by their integral bell-housing. Some later cars (most commonly FE powered 929s) have a circumferential external rib around the bell-housing.

*323 boxes have a smaller diameter input shaft compared to others, which all have the common 22-spline input shaft. This version is distinctive due to its smaller bell-housing which has a raised section with a flat top, where it bolts to the motor. These are available in both 4 and 5-speed versions. Notably the cases are different (due to the extra length required for the 5th gear), making the 5-speed a difficult fit into a factory fitted 4-speed 323. 808s have more mounting points, and so are a much easier fit. For both cars, factory auto version will easily accommodate the 5-speed gearbox.
*The S1 RX-7 gearbox is a direct swap for the earlier RX-4 / RX-5 gearbox, and all mounting points, shifter position etc are the same. The rotary gearboxes can be identified by having a hole for the starter motor to be fitted to (piston motors have the starter motor fitted to the engine). All smooth case rotary gearboxes are 5-speed.
*S2, S3, S4 RX-7s have a remote shifter that places the shift lever 100mm further back compared to the S1 RX-7 gearbox. These are a substantial update over the S1 boxes and are much stronger, although not indestructible.
* The RWD 626 boxes and the later MA-powered 929 boxes are identical to each other. These have the best ratios of any Mazda production gearbox. They can be identified by the very short distance from the motor to the gear lever – it is 100mm shorter than the S1 RX-7 gearbox, making it 200mm shorter than the S2 and later RX-7 boxes. Available in both 4 and 5-speed versions.
*The FE Smooth Case gearbox, as fitted to post 1983 929s is identified by its larger bell-housing with a raised flat top section where it bolts to the motor. Apparently these gearboxes received the same improvements as the S2 and later RX-7 gearboxes. 5-speed only
*The van boxes are column shift, and generally have appalling ratios for road car use. They have bell-housings the same as the car boxes (ie, to suit TC,UC, D5, NA, VC, MA, and FE motors).
*The S3 and S4 NA boxes also have a unique output shaft size, which is larger than the earlier gearobxes.

The front case/bell-housings are interchangeable between all gearboxes. It is possible to put a RX-7 front case onto a 626 gearbox to make it fit a rotary motor, or a FE case onto an RX-7 gearbox if a replacement FE gearbox was not available. The 323 gearbox is the exception to this, as it incredibly has a slightly different shape, so none of the bolts line up if you attempt to bolt a 323 bell-housing onto a gearbox from a larger car. It would also require a custom clutch plate (due to its smaller input shaft, and smaller diameter shaft). The 323 also appears to have a smaller bearing in the front case.
The extension housings are also interchangeable, meaning that on any gearbox, you have the choice of four different shifter positions (626, S1, S2 or S4 NA).

The Smooth case gearboxes are generally weak. The S1 RX-7 box in particular has a (well deserved) reputation for breaking with very little provocation. Breaking input shafts, output shafts, stripping teeth off gears, breaking cases and jamming in gear are all common. The piston gearboxes are no stronger, but are generally OK as they rarely have to withstand as much power as the rotary gearboxes. Interestingly, the ‘works’ racing gearboxes have much thicker cases, suggesting that much of the strength issue is due to a weak, flexible casing.

4. The RX-4 style gear box is probably the most common gearbox used in rotary Mazdas. From a basic design that first saw the light of day in the early 1970s, it has been upgraded and modified ever since and was even used in the S6 RX-7.
These gearboxes can be identified by their rectangular external webbing, removable bell-housing (8-bolts) and flat aluminium ‘sump’, which is attached to the gearbox by a large number (14?) 6mm bolts. This style can be broken down into sub-categories:

*Twin dizzy or Straight type. This model was fitted to early RX-2s and early twin dizzy RX-4s. They can be identified by looking at the machined flat for the gearbox rubber mount – for these gearboxes only, the flat is parallel to the gearboxes’ sump. This means the gearbox sits in the car in a totally upright position. There is only one type of bell-housing to suit these gearboxes – the twin distributor top-mount starter motor one.
Ratios are very poor, with a very low ratio 1st gear, and a large gap between 2nd and 3rd gears.
These are a fairly strong gearbox, with jamming in gear (almost always 3rd gear) being the most common problem. Breaking synchro rings is not unheard of.

*Early single dizzy or Twisted type. This name is slightly misleading, as these gearboxes were not only fitted to single distributor motors. These look very similar to the twin dizzy gearboxes, however the main case does not sit upright in the car – they are twisted over slightly (~15deg) to make room for the rotary bottom mount starter motor. As such, the gearbox mount and the sump are not parallel to each other. In detail:

a) Late RX-4 Twin dizzy. Later 12A twin dizzy RX-4s have the updated bottom mounted starter motor. Notably, the starter is different to the later single dizzy bottom mount starter motors, which have a smaller body – you can see this by the large (~80mm) hole in the bell-housing. These bell-housings are the only easy way to fit a 5-speed behind a twin dizzy motor – more on this later.
The ratios in these gearboxes are the best ratios Mazda EVER offered in a factory rotary gearbox. They are also very strong, being able to withstand over 300 horse-power – beyond this power level, the gear-box case becomes the weak point as it tends to expand and allow the shafts to move relative to each other, which then results is broken shafts and/or stripped gears. Wayne Dyson’s 9.7 second 500+hp RX-3 used an internally standard RX-4 gearbox that was substantially braced externally with a “full metal jacket” – a steel sump (rather than alloy), and some hefty steel strapping running around the outside of the case.
The most common failure with these gearboxes is jamming in 3rd gear when they are worn. The more power being fed through them, and the more worn they are, the more likely it is that they will jam in gear.

b) RX-4 Single Dizzy. The actual gearbox is identical to the later Twin Dizzy “twisted” gearbox, but the bell-housing was changed to suit the single dizzy motors’ new bolt pattern, and to suit the inexplicably different starter motor. These bell-housing can be identified by their smaller starter motor hole – it is roughly 55mm in diameter.

c) RX-5. This box is essentially just a 5-speed version of the RX-4 gearbox, and as such, has the same strengths and weaknesses. The ratios, however, reverted to the old top-mount twin dizzy ratios and as such are appalling. Bell-housing is the same as single dizzy RX-4.

d) 121. Again just another revision of the theme – although obviously fitted with a bell-housing to suit the piston motor. The piston bell-housing can be identified by its lack of a hole for the starter motor. These gearboxes have a shorter gear lever position (approx 100mm further forward compared to the RX-5 gearbox. All previous RX-4 type boxes have the same shifter position length as the RX-5). The 121 box is blessed with the much better later RX-4 ratios. Changing the extension housing to the RX-5’s item will create a “close ratio” RX-5 5-speed. Notably, in both 5-speed boxes mentioned so far, 5th gear is removable, and the RX-5’s 5th gear is a closer (less over-driven) gear than the 121’s. The “ultimate” all production Mazda gearbox would use a 121 gear-set, fitted with the RX-5’s 5th gear. Note that later 121s were factory fitted with a 626 style Smooth Case gearbox.

e)TQX. This is a weird import-only gearbox that you may happen to stumble across. Factory fitted to Jap market RX-5s, they are a 5-speed manual gearbox, which also uses an automatic style torque converter. It is very rare to find one that still has all of the torque converter intact, however, some importers try to sell them as “RX-5 style” gearboxes. They have a very short, very angled gear lever position, and therefore will not easily bolt into anything without the torque converter gear. The gearset however, can be transplanted into a RX-5 or 121 case. Ratios are the same as 121.


*Series 4 Style.
This is just a major update to the old style RX-4/5 gearbox. Still a Twisted type box, but with a different twist compared to the earlier versions. Visually they are similar to the older gearboxes, but with some external clues:
*Remote shifters, similar to the S2/3 RX-7s. This puts the shift lever roughly 140mm further rearward than the RX4/5 position.
*The word “Mazda” cast into the side of the gearbox, at the front.
*An extra switch that looks very similar to a reverse light switch. This is for the factory ECU to detect 5th gear.
*The removable bell-housing is larger, and is much smoother compared to the early versions. This is to accommodate the S4’s larger 9.5” diameter clutch (as compared to 8.5” for all the early rotaries).

Internally, these gearboxes are much revised compared to the early versions. The input shaft is larger at 23 splines (rather than 22) as is the output shaft. The gears themselves are stronger, as are the synchros. While much stronger than the earlier gearboxes, they do have a unique problem with an internal nut coming loose and allowing the gears to “float” on their shaft, resulting in only 4th gear providing drive.

The S5 style gearbox can be identified by its extra webbing, and different gearbox mounting point. Where the S4 has a flat machined into the extension housing and the rubber mount is held by two 8mm bolts (the same as all other RWD Mazdas to that time), the S5 has two pairs of 8mm bolts (ie 4 bolts in total) that are angled in.

These gearboxes were also fitted to the V6 powered 929s (manual gearboxes of this type are import only, it seems), and many later model vans and utes.

Bell-housing swapping.
All of the “RX-4 style” gearboxes have removable bell-housings, and as such, any bell-housing can be bolted to any gearbox – with some conditions!

Putting a twisted type bell-housing onto a straight type box will result in the gear lever sticking out pointing greatly towards the passenger. The gearbox mount will not sit parallel either, requiring some “creative engineering” to make a workable gearbox mount. Obviously, the reverse combination will result in the problems being reversed.

The S4 type box will also bolt to the early Twisted type bell-housing. This combination results in the shift lever pointing towards the left, although usually only slightly. The bigger problem is the gearbox mount no-longer sits flat and will require thought. Notably, some S4 gearboxes have 10 bolts to hold the bell-housing on – the extra two bolts (top centre and bottom centre) can simply be ignored.

In all cases of swapping bell-housings, the flywheel and starter motor must match the bell-housing used. When changing between the top-mount and bottom mount starter twin dizzy bell-housings, the ring gear must be swapped around as the chamfer on the teeth is on the opposite side of the ring gear. Similarly, fitting the earlier twisted type BH to a S4 gearbox will need the earlier starter, flywheel and clutch to be used, as the hole in the BH will not allow the starter to line up with the outside of the ring gear.

Whenever fitting a S4 or later gearbox to any early motor, be aware that the spigot bearings are different sizes (S4 is larger).

*The twisted type twin dizzy bell-housing. These rare bell-housings allow a multitude of gearbox swaps onto twin distributor motors. RX-5 and 121 gearboxes are direct bolt-ons, S4 gearboxes are possible (although the same problems are encountered as when using a twisted single dizzy bell-housing to mount one of these gearboxes), and Supra and Celica conversions are possible with the use of a readily available adaptor plate.
Be aware that the starter motors are quite difficult to obtain, and are only available from this model bell-housing and from the even rarer bottom mount R100 clam-shell gearbox.

At a Glance.
1. All gearboxes have 22 fine spline input shafts, with the following exceptions: Clam-shell (coarse spline), S4 and later (23 fine spline) and the 1500cc and smaller engined cars (20? Fine spline).
2. All gearboxes have the same fine spline output shafts, with the following exceptions: Clamshell (coarse) and S4 and later (larger). (Note that the smaller cars are the same as the “norm” in this regard).
3. There are four common engine-to-shifter lengths. From shortest to longest: Piston, early rotary (all before S2 RX-7), S2 & S3 RX-7, and S4+ RX-7. (S6 RX-7 is ignored, because I don't know!)
4. There are two different types of shift lever – front slot and rear slot. This refers to the location of the pivot pin in the top of the gearbox. The general rule is that early 4-speeds have one type, and late 4-speeds and all 5-speeds the other. Be aware that fitting an early 4-speed shifter and shifter block (the alloy casing that bolts to top of extension housing) to a 5-speed MAY result in not being able to access 5th or reverse gears.
5. There are at least three different shifter ball-lengths – this refers to the distance between the spherical sections on the bottom of the shift lever. Too short will result in frequent missed gears (sometimes a total inability to engage any or all gears). Too long will result in the gearbox jamming in gears.




****Update. The 5-speed MX-5 gearboxes are smooth-case type gearboxes. Ratios are similar to both S1 and S2 RX-7, without being the same as either :roll:. They also have the big power-train girdle, like a S6 RX-7, and are therefore difficult to mount into earlier cars.
The 6-speed MX-5 gearboxes are an Aisin manufactured gearbox, which is the same gearbox as fitted to the Lexus IS200, S15 200SX, and the new RX-8. I do not yet have any info on ratios, mountings or input/output shafts.
Last edited by Spac on Wed Jul 02, 2003 5:09 pm, edited 5 times in total.



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#2 Post by Adsy01 » Sat Nov 30, 2002 4:03 am

great stuff!!

but what is it with people and S1 gearboxes???

i ran a S1 box that had a s2 extension housing and modified rods in my s2 12aT this put out 220rwHP an was always given a hard time and i never had a drama!!
i got the box with a whole heap of parts, so it was pulled it down to use for parts to rebuild my S2 box.. when it we (Stuie & I) opened it up we found it actually had wider gears (physically) that the S2 an that the gears were a straighter cut.. so seeing as there was nothing really wrong with that box its the one i used. maybe i had a freak box?? :lol:

another thing I've found out just recently is that s3 boxes have a softer cut gear set in them to reduce noise, thus making them weaker in the gears than the S2 boxes.



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#3 Post by strx7 » Sun Dec 01, 2002 9:25 am

Shady wrote:Wow thanks for that Spac, awesome info and great write-up! :)

[EDIT]

One question, when people talk about using Celica gearboxes. Which Celica do they come from? The TA22/23's? Or something newer? Cause I know that the 5spd in those celica's are very very tough (got one on the farm atm and it's still going beautifuly).
They use the W55 and W57 gearboxes, they are found in numerous toyota models. GA60 series Celica's, some RWD Corona's, Chaser's, Crown's, Cressida's, Supra's etc, nearly every rear wheel drive toyota with a motor more powerful than a 3T - 1770cc push rod. any manual toyota 6 cyl is a good place to look, they are good for 400HP...... i have learnt a fair bit about them cause we sell all of ours to a guy who uses them in conversion kits for pretty much everything under the sun.


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#4 Post by Rota_Motor » Mon Dec 02, 2002 12:51 pm

*S2, S3, S4 RX-7s have a remote shifter that places the shift lever 100mm further back compared to the S1 RX-7 gearbox. These are a substantial update over the S1 boxes and are much stronger, although not indestructible.
alrighty, are there any differences between the S2/3 and S4 gearboxes?

I have a smooth case box with a remote shifter, but unsure what it came out of, until now I thought it was a S2/3 box, but may be a S4 N/A box.
it was in a auto to manual converted RX-5, and had 13B marked in paint texta on the bellhousing, obviously marked prior to fitment in the RX-5, so it must have come from a 13B? Im guessing anyway.


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#5 Post by Spac » Tue Dec 03, 2002 2:12 am

Rota-Motor, good question. I haven't been able to find any info on these boxes, with some manuals only showing the Turbo type box - suggesting that the S3 type boxes were never even fitted to S4s...

Fool, virtually nothing. $150 from the wreckers, <$80 from your brother... Remember that you'll need a bell-housing and possibly a RX-5 extension housing (~$60 last time I priced one, which was a loooongg time ago). If you find a dead RX-5 box you can probably get an EHousing for free.

Shady, there are THREE basic types of Toyota RWD gearboxes that get used in conversions: The old 1600 split alloy case box, the 1800+ cast iron case box, and the later "Supra" style alloy case box.
People get confused because Dellow make conversion kits to put the little split cae box behind Datto A series motors etc, and so they confuse them with the later Supra boxes. Either the steel-case or Supra type boxes will last well behind a decent rotary - they're both about the same strength as a S4 RX-7 Turbo box. Supra is a bit nicer, in terms of shift quality and noise, being newer design.

Adsy, buggered if I know! A mate of mine killed SIX S1 boxes in about three months, with a stocker 13B... And no, he wasn't doing anything stupid! Where is that box now?

Buzz, Nah, buggered if I know - Master S reckons he's copped this too, so I'll have to look into it a bit further.

Mr808, that's going to require a LONG explanation, even by my standards. Short version is that 1st gear is reasonalby tall compared to the others, meaning that the 1st to 2nd gap is a bit closer/same (depending on which box you're comparing it to) and that the 2nd to 3rd gap is much smaller than the others.



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Gearbox conversion

#6 Post by gaz13bt » Wed Dec 04, 2002 1:12 am

Hey Spac,

Am getting a Series 5 turbo gearbox into my Series 3 RX-7 (runs 13bt).

Would you have the gearbox "overhauled" or just have it fitted. Box is being sourced and fitted by John Godschaltz here in Canberra.

Your opinion would be appreciated, thanks.

Gaz



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#7 Post by Adsy01 » Wed Dec 04, 2002 1:23 am

i think this gear box faulrue thing has to do with the driver a fair bit! it must do..

as another example Stuie hat the tqx 5 seed in his RX2 13b EP he never had a single drama with it... we took it racing heaps and it was only ever driven hard!!
Stuie sold the car and the young bloke whent through 3 gearboxes with in a few months!!

Same goes for diff's ect...
just because some have blown up dosnet mean there all shit!! :lol:
i think people are too quick to jump on the bandwagon in bagging stuff (in general) rather than saying welll i was side stepping my 4 puck clutch at 7K and the gearbox/diff/axel ect might just of been a little overstressed!! :lol:
alrighty, are there any differences between the S2/3 and S4 gearboxes?
the S3 as the softest cut to the gear teeth of the 1st gen gearboxes to minimise noise.. (though mine just has bearing nosie at the moment!!)

the S4 NA? hardly anyone seams to know about them... ive iften wondered if there the same as a 12at type box??? it would make sence if they were basiclly the same



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#8 Post by buzz » Wed Dec 04, 2002 2:28 am

Clutch forks - what are the differences, are they as interchangable as the bellhousings, or do you need to keep certain ones for certain configurations? I've found that the clutch in my car is pretty much released with the pedal *just* off the floor, would it be the clutch fork that is the problem?

Anyone - another question, On the mazda boxes there are one or two little plates screwed onto the top part of the box. On one of mine it had a sender/sensor of some description fitted into the plate. Spac hadn't seen it before, has anyone else come across one? Its not like that part of the box has oil pressure or the like.

Spac, you wouldn't happen to have a 121 box and extension housing lying around as well.



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Everything Spac knows about Mazda clutch forks...

#9 Post by Spac » Wed Dec 04, 2002 3:05 am

There are three types of clutch forks.

Small - fitted to 1500cc and smaller cars. Look the same as the others, and (I believe) the ratio is the same, but they're just shorter. If you had one of these in a big Bel Housing, it would not meet the thrust bearing carrier properly, and wouldn't stick out far enough.

Straight. Basically and early model thing -change-over was around the time the rotaries got the smooth case boxes.

Offset. Have same ratio as straight forks, but (funnily enough) are offset rearwards on the slave cylinder end. You can pick the boxes / bell housings that should have these by the studs/holes to mount the slave cylinder - the hole will be about 50mm from the engine to gearbox mounting face, where the earlier ones have them about 10mm from the face.

I don't think this is your problem though. Sounds like air in the hydraulics - they're difficult shits of things, 'cause they'll syphon-bleed and let you think that all is well, when in reality, there's air in there (and a chair as well...). With one person holding the clutch pedal to the floor, the other person should open the bleed valve, and when all of the pressure has gone, reclose it. (1st pesron holds clutch flat to floor the whole time)

Edit: When you say "would" but meant "wouldn't", it probably confuses people...



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#10 Post by RXWASP » Wed Dec 04, 2002 3:20 am

Adsy01 wrote:the S4 NA? hardly anyone seams to know about them... ive iften wondered if there the same as a 12at type box??? it would make sence if they were basiclly the same
I've actually heard this a couple of times. I can't remember who it was that told me, but supposedly they're near identical boxes.



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#11 Post by Adsy01 » Wed Dec 04, 2002 3:35 am

RXWASP wrote:
Adsy01 wrote:the S4 NA? hardly anyone seams to know about them... ive iften wondered if there the same as a 12at type box??? it would make sence if they were basiclly the same
I've actually heard this a couple of times. I can't remember who it was that told me, but supposedly they're near identical boxes.
the shifter would be further back, but the n/a S4 and the s3 and 12aT allran the 9"clutch setup.

perhaps a s4 n/a box could be a cheap bullitproof conversion box for those with 200HP or less???



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#12 Post by sv_i » Thu Mar 13, 2003 3:47 am

so what is the gearbox that has the finned sump, 8 bolt bellhousing with the square cut out on the top and what looks like two sensors on (one on each side) the actual gearbox

also has flat mounting plate towards the back of the gearbox


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#13 Post by Spac » Thu Mar 13, 2003 4:09 am

Sounds like a late RX-5 import, at a guess. Buzz has one, and it was the first one I'd seen. Then I scored one the other day...

Mine also has a 1/4" steel breather tube coming out of the inspection plate on the extension housing, and running down the side of the box to drain on the ground.

Is the gearbox mount flat parallel to the bottom "sump", or is it on an angle? If they're parellel, its a top-mount twin dizzy type.



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#14 Post by Tweety » Thu Mar 13, 2003 4:50 am

i think this gear box failure thing has to do with the driver a fair bit! it must do...
I agree... I had a S1 box in my RX-2 for 6 rallies and it copped a fairly hard time. For those rallies I had three different engines in the car (2 well and truly died, the other was reliable but really old and low on compression), and all I managed to do to the box was wear out the synchros a little so it occasionally crunched into 3rd.

I have to admit though that I eventually bowed to pressure from the master because of all his stories about S1 boxes breaking, and put in a rebuilt 121 box with an RX-5 5th :D



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#15 Post by Spac » Thu Mar 13, 2003 10:37 pm

All RX-5s were single dizzy.

How many foward gears?



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