1979 camaro with a 3 speed manual transmission. Would swapping to a 4 speed or 5 speed transmission be as simple as dropping out the 3 speed transmission and hooking up another 4/5 gear transmission or would this require the changing of more parts inherently?
Of course it depends on the transmission. If you choose to go with a wide ratio Muncie 4-spd then it will fit right in with no fabrication or modification needed. Except of course for the shifter. You could also go with a close ratio Muncie and have to change the clutch disc as the input shaft on those is fine splined. Or you could even use many of the Saginaw transmissions made in those days. I would bite the bullet though and install a decent 5 or 6 speed trans. It may take more money but the final result will be much better.
about the only thing you might have to do is slide the transmission cross member back or forward and drill new holes in the frame !
The 4 or 5 speed will likely be longer than the 3 speed is so you will likely need to relocate the transmission cross member and get a shorter drive shaft. Camaros were available with 4 speeds in 1979 so the holes for the cross member mounting location will already be in your sub-frame (just a little farther back from where it is now). If you can find one, which isn't likely, a junk yard drive shaft from a 4 speed Camaro or Firebird would be perfect, but you won't have any trouble getting a new shaft from Denny's Drive Shaft or other aftermarket sources. They weren't available with 5 speed boxes until the 3rd generation cars hit the market, but you can swap in a 5 speed into your 2nd generation car with little trouble. There are plenty of aftermarket parts that make it a fairly simple job.