I have a 1954 F250 project truck, 223 six with a T98 4 speed. I just finished the body and paint work and I am ready to upgrade the drivetrain. I bought a rebuilt 1970 390 and would like to pair it with a 5 speed OD manual transmission. Is there a ZF that will mount to a 390?
Unfortunately the FE engines were phased out well before the ZF transmissions were introduced and there is nothing that has the same bell housing that was ever mated to a ZF. This would be made easier if the ZF had a removable bell housing but I believe it does not. There maybe someone who makes some kind of adapter that will somehow make this combo possible, but I do not have the slightest clue of who that would be. There are several companies that offer kits and conversions to mate a New Venture 4500 heavy duty 5 speed to a Ford engine. I'm drawing a blank right now but someone should be able to point you somewhere.
Look into the Tremec TR3550 or TKO. Both are aluminum case, 5 speeds (4th is 1:1, 5th is usually .68:1 (a .8:1 is also available)). It's geared like a car tranny (i.e., not a granny gear). The TKO was the trans used behind the Mustang Cobra R for a couple of years, and some specialty car builders have used them behind small and big-blocks (e.g., back when SuperPerformance used to include engines w/ their Cobra replicas they used the TKO behind their built 460s).
I've been running a TKO behind my 429 for a couple of years now, and I like it. The overdrive is sweet, and the TKO shares many of the same dimensions as the Toploaders 4 speed (same speedo gear, same tranny mounts, same bolt pattern). Someone on this site is running a TKO in their F100 (behind a 360).
1972 F100 360 4v 4 speed
1968 Torino GT 429 4v 5 speed