At least it’s only theoretical

Because this just sounds impossible:

I am not a mechanic, or mechanically minded at all, but for a story I’m writing I need to know if it is possible to swap the automatic transmission from an Aston Martin Lagonda (1980s Series 2) for a manual one, and how easy/hard would it be for a character to do? If it is possible, what would be the best donor transmission for the swap. Thanks in advance.

In the absence of James Bond or Q, someone attempted to give it a try:

It’s possible, theoretically at least.

The automatic versions Had a 5.3 litre V8 mated to a Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed “slush-box”. There was a 5-speed manual option available, but it was very rarely ordered.

Any transmission specialist shop could supply a suitably-rated 5-speed and the correct mechanical modifications to replace the automatic.

But it would be near-impossible on a practical level without extensive additional modifications to the vehicle interior and the instrumentation. Finding original pattern centre consoles and gearshift lever parts will be almost impossible without buying a complete manual Lagonda. Obtaining the correct electronic dashboard displays will be like trying to buy fresh dodo doodoos. Those parts especially were horrifically unreliable even from new and most surviving Lagondas of that type are now undriveable immobile showroom exhibits because of that.

Lose the digital displays and centre console and you destroy the entire point of the car.

Still, 007 has been known to drive a Citroën 2CV when he had to — see For Your Eyes Only — so I don’t really think this would ruin the story: in fact, a half-assed transmission swap makes for a reasonable plot complication all by itself.

1 comment

  1. fillyjonk »

    18 June 2019 · 10:20 am

    A Lagonda? I wonder if he’s trying to write a modern pastiche of Albert Campion – I know for at least some of the early novels, the Lagonda was his vehicle of choice (in its original incarnation, as an independent company)

    Though it seems to me Magersfontein Lugg would be far more likely to attempt the mechanical swap than Our Albert. And I suspect Campion would find another way around it, if for some reason he could not drive a manual for a period of time (injured hand, injured leg…)

    (I have a considerable fondness for that series of novels. Don’t get me started on Albert Campion if you have no tolerance for anorakory.)

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