3.0L 5 Speed Grand Caravan Conversion Page
*** Updated 09/07/2003 ***

For those interested I will be doing a gen 2 5-speed conversion in the near future.  Keep your eyes open for more updates to this page.

A 5 speed in a Grand Caravan?  Why would somebody want to do something crazy like that.  Well me.  I opted for the V6 version of the van and Ma didn't give the option of getting one of these transmissions from the factory.  So it looks like I will have to figure out how to do it myself.  Hopefully Ma will be good to me and have a few bolt on parts so the fabrication isn't so bad.  Read on and find out what I learned.  Some of it is quite interesting.  Or at least I thought it was.
 
The Research Part of the Project

    Half Shafts

    Motor Mounts

    Shifter & Cables

    Clutch & Brake Pedals, & Clutch Cable

    Shift Indicator Light

     Neutral/Safety Switch

     Clutch & Flywheel

      Inlet Pipe (Early A670 only)

    Success

    New Info Provided by Others

    Minivan 5 speed Swap Club
 

Picture of A543 transmission in the shipping crete.


The Research Part of the Project
All worthwhile projects take a little research in doing.  This is a Mopar we are talking about here. Everything is research.  I extensively used the Chrysler3litre mailing list for alot of  my research and reference.  My local dealer parts counter also has contributed to my research.  A big thanks goes out to the following  people for their contributions(answers to my questions)  Paul Berkebile, Nick Boers, Sean Dalton, Chuck James, Harv, Roger Lister, Chief8one, and Nitetrain.  I'm sure I missed a couple in there and will get those I missed added as I remember who you are.

I also used this site Harv created after he did the swap on his '90 Lebaron drop top:

http://harvii.tripod.com/trans/transmissionswap.html

I'm not going to detail the exact removal and replacement of the transmission.  Harv's page already covers the basic install.  This page focus is on what parts are required to do the same in a minivan.

There are several things that had to be verified in order to determine the feasibility of this project.  Half shafts, motor mounts,  shifter & cables, and brake & clutch pedal set w/clutch cables.  Each will be addressed in it's own section below.


Half Shafts
Will the standard half shafts work or will I have to spend a lot of money on custom shafts?  Luckily I will be able reuse my old ones.  How did I arrive at this assumption?  I asked members of the chrysler3litrev6 mailing list who had done the swap on passenger cars.  The answer was they were able to reuse their axles from the A604.   I have also learned from experience that the shafts interchange between the A604 and the A670 so I am definitely in good shape here.


Motor Mounts

The front mount is identical and will get recycled in the project.  The trans. mount though is a different story.  Once I had the automatic and manual brackets in hand there are obvious differences in the bolt patterns between the automatic and manual transmissions brackets.  The good news is the passenger cars and vans shared a common bracket for the manual transmissions.
 


Picture of a Small Mount A670 transmission Bracket

Picture of an A520 bracket modified for the A543

What I ended up doing was using an A520 bracket from an '89 minivan and modifying it to fit the A543.  If you look at the picture above you can see where a notch was cut into the bracket to allow it to clear a spot on the case and bolt flush.  For gen2 minivans the bracket from an A523 is a direct bolt on with no modification.


Picture of modified motor mount attached to trans.

The manual transmissions also recieved a bobble strut on the backside of the transmission.  A bracket needs to be fabricated and attached to the K-Frame.  See the pictures below to get the idea of what needs to be done.
 
 


Fabricated Bobble Strut mount bracket.


Shifter & Cables
This is going to be a little tricky, but workable.  Between 1984 and 1990 Chrysler offered a 5 speed with the 4 cyl models.  It's a direct bolt in for my van so life is good here or so I thought at first.  The cables are different for the 520/525/555('84-'89) vs. the A568/523/543('90 on) transmissions.  So a turbo or gen 2 minivan will have to be the donor for all the shift cable goodies.  A shifter from a passenger car will work as long as you have the minivan specific bracket to attach it to.  The bracket can be obtained off of any 5 speed minivan or you could opt to fabricate one.  With fabrication the shifter's height can easily be changed.  I choose the fabrication route myself.


Diagram of the shifter for the 5 speed - '89- up A555/568/523/543


Gen 2 Minivan shifter cables

Update:  When I went to mount the shifter in the van I cut a slit in the carpet where I thought it should go.  After peeling a section back I discovered the sound deadening material underneath had a cut out for where the shifter needs to go.  The shifter sits inside this cut out very snug.  Not too far from there was a plug in the floor for where the cables needed to come through.  With the gen 2 minivan cables attached to the trans. and fished in the opening everything fit together like a glove.

Another update:  A gent with a '94 van down in Florida did the conversion and found that the Daytona cables will fit.  Looks like this opens doors to make more of these conversions possible.



Clutch & Brake Pedals, & Clutch Cable
All the pedals and clutch cable hardware from a 4 cyl model van is a direct bolt in for the gen 1 vans.  All the sheet metal stamping was the same up front for both short and long wheelbase models(at least in the '80's)so the additional provisions are there already.  Crawled up under mine and snooped around just to verify.  The holes for the clutch cable bracket under the hood is also there.  It has a rubber plug covering it up.

There is an additional stopper piece for the clutch pedal that needs to be grabbed when the pedals are pulled from the doner van.  There is a picture a little further down of it.

For vehicles with cruise the clutch pedal had a separate switch to disrupt the cruise if the clutch pedal was pressed in.


Clutch & Brake pedals from a Gen1 Minivan


Clutch pedal  stop bracket



Shift Indicator Light
The shift indicator light unfortunately is not supported on the V6 computer of the era.  The pin out on the 2.5L SMEC for it ended up being the lock up torque convertor pin on the V6 units.  Bummer.

Neutral/Saftey Switch
The automatic transmissions used a neutral/saftey switch to allow the vehicle to start when the gear shifter is in park or neutral only.  It is also responsible for turning on the reverse lights when the reverse gear is selected.  The manual trans. uses a reverse light switch.  The problem here is the connectors between the automatic and manual transmissions are different.  The automatic connector has 3 wires while the manual has two wires.  Some minor modifications will need to be done here in order for the vehicle to start and for the reverse lights to function properly.  I recommend to snag the connector off of a manual trans. car and graft it in.  2 of the wires of the auto connector will go to the new connector from the manual transmission and the 3rd wire will go to ground so the ignition system circuit will be completed and allow the starter to engage when the key is turned.   The brown wire with the yellow tracer is the one that needs to go to ground and the violet wire w/black tracer and the white wire need to go to the new connector.  The obtained connectors two wires should be the same color.  If they are not it doesn't matter which wire is hooked to which since this is a switch and switches usually complete a circuit and  don't require specific wires to be connected to specific points to work properly or at least in this case.


A670 Automatic Transmission Neutral Safety Switch
Electrical Diagram 3.0L V6

Modified Wiring chart with the A543
Installed


Clutch & Flywheel
The flywheel can be obtained off of any 3.0L/A543 equipped vehicle or from an '86 and up 2.2/2.5L Turbo engines.  Don't use the one from the 4 cyl N/A as it is smaller.  Clutch is going to be dependent on taste and how much power you plan to put to the wheels.  As they say "Speed Costs.  How much are you willing to spend?"

If your looking for an Aluminum Flywheel one can be obtained through a Fidenza reseller.  FWDPerformance http://www.fwdperformance.com/ stocks them and more information about the flywheels can be obtained from Fidenza's site at:  http://www.aluminumflywheels.com/

2 vendors for clutches I have heard good things about is Euro Drive and Dealer's Equipment.  Euro-Drive clutches can be obtained in the USA through http://fwdmoparmuscle.com

I've had my trans out already for other reasons and installed a 4 puck ceramic clutch from Euro-Drive.  I'll say this much for it it grabs like there is no tomorrow.




Flywheel & Clutch(2.2/2.5L shown.  3.0L Similar)

Note: The lower dust cover from the automatic transmission will have to be modified.  When used with the A543 the tail extension housing on the transmission interferes with it requiring it to be trimmed to fit.  Nothing a pair of tin snips can't handle.


Inlet Pipe (Early A670 Trans only)

3.0L engines equipped with the A670 automatic transmissions use a different inlet pipe.  The A543 has no provision for bolting it to the transmission like the A670 had.  A inlet pipe from an A604 or A543 equipped vehicle will have to be acquired.  It has a flange that is held to the motor by 2 of the transmission bell housing bolts instead of the bracket that attaches to the trans case.

I want to add that I was recently out in the junkyard pulling an engine wiring harness off of a '93 Caravan w/3.0L/A670 and it had an inlet pipe like the A604's with 2 ears that attached via 2 transmission housing bolts.
 

Picture of an Inlet pipe from an A604 equipped vehicle

A670 Inlet Pipe

If you need a replacement o-ring for the water pipe the chrysler part number is MD030764.


Success


The project has been a complete success.  I now have over 7000miles on the van and am loving every minute of it.  The 3.0L woke up and acceleration is awesome.  Definitely a day/night difference.  For anyone who has the ambition this is definitely a 2 thumbs up one.  Rob


New Info Provided by Others

Gen 2 Specific Information

More Information Coming soon!

For now enjoy this information Ed Kelly posted to the chrysler3litrev6 mailing list:

"The minivan clutch pedal assembly is only slightly different than the one used in the cars.  The plastic cam is shaped differently and white in color.  The car version is black.  Available and cheap.

The pedal is has the corner clipped at a 45 degree angle (the corner that would be closest to the firewall).  A grinder can quickly modify a car pedal.

The minivan pedal rod is a must have.  The car version is too short!

The mininvan spacer is not available, but appears to be a shorter version of  car spacer (I ground mine shorter with a bench grinder...)

For the clutch pedal stop, I cut the one off my junkyard assembly cut a slot in the mounting surface.  Cut off the neutral switch mount and turn it around.  Adjusted it until I was satisfied with the pedal height (about the same as the brake pedal...)

The minivan brake pedal (MT) is not available, but the AT brake pedal can be cut down with a Tiger Saw.  The AT brake pedal uncut interfered with the clutch pedal on my van...  Cut down, an MT rubber pad fits nicely and looks "normal""
 

Thanks for the info Ed!!!


Minivan 5 speed Swap Club

Name Year of Van & Model Version of Trans  Completion Date
Robert E. Carter, III '88 Dodge Grand Caravan SE A543 w/3.50 Final 05/02
Edward Kelly '91 Plymouth Voyager A543 w/3.77 Final 12/02
Gord Ducharme '87 Dodge Caravan A543 w/3.77 Final 06/03

I know of a total of 6 vans completed as of 1/04.  The other 3 I do not have their information available to add to the list :(

Pictures of an A-543


Picture of A-543 Transmission Bell Housing View



Visitors  Last Updated 07/03/2003