View Full Version : four-speeds?

05-24-2000, 08:51 PM
I have heard rumors of a 4-speed column-shift option that was offered in the 69 and 70 chevy vans. Has anyone here EVER seen one of these fabled four-speeds? If I found one in a junkyard, what would tip me off to the fact that it's a four-speed? are there 3 shift rods? I'm asking because I've got some leads on more junkyards here in southern Pennsylvania that have old chevies and I want to keep an eye out for a 4-spd set-up. Don't tell me to simply work the shift lever thru the gears to check it. Junkyard vans often have pieces missing, broken or locked-up, so you often CAN'T shift thru the gears to check it. I need to be able to identify the set-up by appearance alone.

Geez, I'm full of stupid questions ever since I started working on my 64.

05-25-2000, 05:06 PM
I have seen one four speed, many years ago, it was a plumbers van. the trans is a Saginaw casty iron 4 spd with the unique early van rear mount. all internal parts should be the same as the other saginaw 4 spds. there are three shift rods on the trans and the extra linkage to the column. just a note, these were notorious for jamming up. In fact, that was the reason the plumbers van I saw was immobile, the linkage had jammed and the ham handed owner bent the linkage so bad all that worked was 1st and 2nd gear!

05-25-2000, 08:43 PM
Ahh...maybe that's why I've never seen one. Sounds like they were a lot of trouble. Even so, that would be a badass set-up. In the long run, I hope to put a turbo 350 automatic transmission in my van. Ideally, I would want to use the shifter from a late 60's dodge. They had a shift lever set in the dash that was pretty cool. Plus, you can figure that the linkage will be long enough. Unfortunately, I don't have the cash for a new transmission right now. Maybe I'll locate that 4-speed...

06-04-2000, 04:22 PM
hey, if you wanna go to an automatic, get a th700-r4 overdrive unit. you will have 4 spds, and you can get a b&m shifter with a long cable to hook it up. just need to fab a rear crossmember....

Charles Linsenbarth
11-14-2007, 02:37 PM
With a new fabed trans crossmember you can run a T-10 GM 4 speed. It's real simple your stock colum shifter becomes first thru fourth in the classic H pattern, just bolt your 1st and reversre rod to the T-10 first and second lever, next bolt the 2nd and 3rd shifter rod to the T-10 3rd and 4th gear lever. Your C,V will now go from 1st thru 4th from the colum.
Now all you need is a reverse lever, and you can use the reverse lever and rod off the T-10 shifter assy, you will need a heavy wall 1/2 inch piece of tubeing and route it to go just even with the drivers seat bottom front and center.
Hey I'm at work right now but I'll draw out a picture for you guys in the next few days, I think it maybe easier, you know the saying a picture is worth a thousand words.
But this deal works perfect. I used it for 10 years on a 65 with a 327.

Charles Linsenbarth
11-14-2007, 07:35 PM
Part#2 of post
Well it has been more than 30 years, so on my way home tonight I was thinkin about that drawing I said, I would do.
And a new idea just poop into my head that I know would work better for reverse.
Use a PTO push pull cable assy, becauce you could mount knob assy on the dash or colum, because the reverse on a T-10 is just a straight pull on the cable for reverse and push back for neutral.
The stock shifter lever need to be in neutral also for this to work. And you would only need to make a bracket on the trans side cover to hold the PTO push pull cable and order the cable the correct lenth.
You can use the stock speedo cable, but may need to change the gear ratio of the cable drive for correct speed.

11-15-2007, 04:48 PM
i've only seen pics of a factory four-speed but if i remember right, it has the pattern printed on the shift knob. so you'll know what it is if the van still has the shifter.

i think i remember reading there were only about 50 or so total factory 4-spd vans???


11-15-2007, 06:14 PM
there was one that appeared intact (that is shifter, linkage and tranny) on ebay a year or so back. tim is right, the shifting pattern does appear on the shifter, the usual h pattern, with an extra arm for the reverse gear. the reason that i decided not to bid on it was that mark (108vanguy) told me that the first gear was actually a bulldog gear, or at least lower than the first gear on our 3 speeds. therefore, it would not help me in my quest for a higher and more fuel efficient high gear (at highway speeds). it would be sweet to have another gear when i reach cruisin' speed, but i don't think these transmissions are the answer. i just can't get rid of the 3 on the tree. it's part of the magic that is my '65. it just makes me happy.

[This message has been edited by lance (edited November 15, 2007).]

11-15-2007, 07:09 PM
Yes there was a four speed as an option, look on page 7 of the 1968 handivan/handibus owners manual it has a photo of the four speed column lever. If I was more computer smart I would post it for you.

Henry Tupper
11-15-2007, 08:52 PM
I am using a junk yard transmission in my 67 108. Its a 4 speed and from a Camero as well as a few other GM cars. Its called a 3 ring Saginaw and there is also a 2 ring and 1 ring. Each has different ratios for the first 3 gears and all have 1 to 1 in high. The 3 ring has the lowest low 3.5 to 1. This trans does not come with the trans mount we need in the vans however the tail piece and mount from your old 3 speed will transfer to the saginaw. The locating ring on front of the trans will swap too as they are different OD"s. I am using the column shifter for 4 forward gears as mentioned below and I go to N on the column and use a cable to pull into reverse and a spring takes it out of R. The 3 rings I mentioned are simply grouves cut into the input shaft of the trans. Henry

11-15-2007, 09:42 PM
Some one here rec.post a white camper flatglass burgandy iter.white ext.in frsno for slae ,i believe has the 4 spd.trans

11-16-2007, 08:30 AM
four speeds I had two one I drove the other was the 75.00 parts van . The shifter handle is flat on top with the 4 speed H pattern on it and like was mentioned below they used the two rods for the 4 gears and reverse was a cable, so the detent part at the base of the colum was different with an extra detent and a place for the cable. On the van I drove hated the colum shifter so I moved the driver seat (vega bucket) as close to the door as I could get which gave me room between the seat and the dog house to mount a short handle Hurst shifter inside the side hump of the dog house ,just behind the rad support. used the stock rods and bent them up to the shifter (they looked like a streched out Z -\_ ). welded threaded rod into the shifter end of the rods for adjustment. worked great, reverse was stil on the colum for a while till i got a cable hook up for it. Ken