First, some background. I am in the process of resto-moding my 71 Challenger. I decided about a year ago that I wanted to put a late model hemi and automatic OD transmission in my 71 Challlenger that was originally a 340/727 column shift automatic car. I did a bunch of research and the prevailing response from those that had supposedly done it was to use a 45RFE or 545RFE from a 4x2 Ram truck. I purchased a 6.1L Hemi out of a wrecked 2005 Magnum and a 545RFE out of a 2002 Ram 1500. A couple of weeks ago, I was to the point in the body work that I wanted to fit the engine and trans in the car for the first time so I could figure out what needed to be done to the firewall. These same companies that were answering questions when I was researching "kit" are now no longer responding to emails and rarely returning phone calls. So, I am on my own more or less to figure this out. As a note, I am using the stock, SB k-member with a stock fast-ratio power steering box and stock torsion bar setup.
Now my questions:
1) Has anyone actually installed one of these (or seen one installed) in an ebody? I am looking for input/pictures as to the tunnel modificaitons required. It is obvious after fighting with it for a few weeks that pretty extensive modificaitons are going to be required to make the 545RFE fit. I just hate to cut up my floor a ton since it is in very good shape and no rust.
2) If I do the mods to the tunnel, I will also have to modify the rear torsion bar cross-brace as the 545RFE is too wide as the brace follows the tunnel. Any recommendations on how to modify this and not loose the strength? I have had a couple ideas, but would like some feedback on what has worked for others.
3) If I give up on the 545RFE, there are only a few other options I have found. Does anyone have any experience comments on pros/cons of each?
a) gear vendors unit (~$2700) + cost to rebuild my original 727
b) a518 automatic (not sure)
c) Keisler 4L60E conversion ($4900)
d) convert to 5-speed manaul (~$5700 from Keisler) - I would love this option, but the almost $6k cost is a killer right now.
I need to limit the damage as I already purchased a package, including wiring and transmission controller to run the 545RFE. I know that people on this board are sure to have some experience or know someone who does that can shed some light on the best path forward.
I think I am going to have to end up startingt a thread to cover this conversion as nothing has going as smoothly as it seems like it should considering I am not the first to do this conversion. Thanks.