View Full Version : what is your tranny of choice or which one gives the best performance?

09-11-2001, 07:45 AM
i have a question for all you vanner mechanics, what is the best tranny application for my early? here is my situation..... i got a two speed powerglide behind my 350, when i drove it branson for the rally, it was bad on gas mileage, but overall it performed well. at 65 - 70 mph, i was running about 2750 - 3000 rpms. i got another two speed powerglide in my garage that i pulled out of my 67 and it has only got about 200 miles on it, i really dont plan on any really long trips in the near future, i was thinking that i should drive on this powerglide until it starts to crap out, then put the other one in while i am going through the restoration process. i figure that after i finish the body, interior, suspension, new 350 install, i will make my tranny last on the list. i have heard good and bad things about the 2004r, ive also considered using either a 700r4 or 350 turbo. thanks for your input


09-11-2001, 04:55 PM
A TH350 will only give you a gear between first and high. They are strong, but will not change your RPM's at all.
The TH200 would be ok behind a stock 307 or 305 in a van that doesn't get load down much. A friend had an 84 Caprice with a TH200 behind a 350 and it broke early and often.
The TH700 is better to behind a 350, but I'd get it beefed up if you plan to hotrod the engine.

09-20-2001, 08:54 PM
hey vanner68, thanks for the info, i got a strong 350 in my van and i got some bad vibes about that 2004r tranny not being strong enough to hold up to the wait of the van over a period of time. a buddy of mine suggested using a 700r4 behind my 350, but for now i plan on driving on the 2 speed until it is toast, and then putting my spare 2 speed in. my spare was rebuilt a while back, it only has about 600 - 800 miles on it.

thanks again


09-20-2001, 10:58 PM
IMO, the 700R4 is the way to go, no doubt about it. --- TV

09-22-2001, 08:48 PM
has anyone seen(or have)the 4 speed colum shift OD trans?my owners manual is the only place ive actualy seen that option.wonder if any one out thare has that

09-23-2001, 07:43 PM
The factory 4spd wasn't an overdrive, just a Saginaw 4 gear truck trans with creeper gear. I ran into a guy at a gas station once who said he had one along time ago, and first gear was pretty much useless unless you were towing or pulling stumps, as about 7mph was as fast as you could go in first.

09-25-2001, 09:07 PM
My van (69 108 window) came stock with a 4.11 rear and a 3 speed. Highway cruising was hard! 3450 rpm at 65 mph. Changed it to a 3.08, and it's great now, about 2800rpm at 65. The thing I'd like to try is a 5speed with a custom floor shift about 4 feet tall, and of course a chrome skull-with-ruby-eyes shifter! My wife (the Trisch part) used to drive a tractor-trailer, and it'd be sorta like that again. Does any one make a 5-speed with external linkage, like the three and four speeds? I don't even want to think of trying to make toploader linkage. Wouldn't a tubo 400 be a little longer gears than the powerglide?

solid side 65
09-25-2001, 10:29 PM
The factory four speed manual was a T-10 Borg-Warner with a normal (no super low gear) 2.4-2.8:1 first gear. My buddy had a black 68 which had been in his family for years with this factory 4 speed trans. It had a unique tail housing with the top mount like the other factory stick and autos have. He cracked the tail housing and was down for about six months until he could locate one in a yard in Texas. The shifter knob is flat on the top and has the shift pattern engraved on it. There are three shift tabs on the bottom of the column for the two rods and a cable to control the reserve gear.

09-26-2001, 07:49 PM
The guy I talked to may have swapped in thr granny gear trans, or he could have been full of bs....the only 4spd I ever saw was in my owner's manual.

09-28-2001, 08:10 AM
hey turbo van, thanks for the reply, the 700R4 will most likely be the tranny i put in my van, i have gotten several good responses to the transmission and few bad comments. it will be a good while until i do the install, but when i do, i plan on hooking up with kilroyrwr in joplin mo to construct my crossmember for me, i have seen a few different tranny supports, but the one i saw on his van was very impressive, it was simple, built to last and looked like it was original with the vehicle. hey david, you read my mind about doing a tall shifter, i want to put it in front of my doghouse and make it long enough just to be seen barely over the dash if you were to stand in front of the van and look through the windshield. i want to put something original on top of the shifter, like a beer tap, or some sort of monster head, or even a wood carved character. SOMEDAY........



09-29-2001, 12:21 AM
What did the crossmember look like?
Is it in the gallery? --- TV

09-29-2001, 04:55 AM
I fabricated mounts for my trans crossmember too. The picture is on my photo site that can be linked through the "earlies for sale-1966 in Vanc.Wa" catagory. Its basically a flat plate of steel that bolts to the frame and drops down far enough to bolt a universal trans mount crossmember to it. Check it out. It was simple to make and works great. BTW I've got the 700 in my van and it works great. Great off the line and excellent freeway speed.


09-30-2001, 03:39 AM
Is that crossmember from Summit or?
Also, is that a stock sway bar?
The front end sits high, like it's supposed to. I've seen that it makes them handle better, especially in the dirt. That and a little extra toe-in.
Are the springs re-arched?
Everything is so clean. Looks good!
You should see how dirty the front of the Turbo motor is right now. Its had a front main leak for a couple of years, and I go to the desert a lot, so its thick and ugly at this point, all greasy, with coolant stains, you can't even see any paint. I had to pull the radiator so I just replaced the seal today, what a messy job.
You'd never know it by looking at the back of the motor. Well, at least everything is working right, and ready for alot of miles. --- TV

09-30-2001, 10:31 AM
I'm not sure what brand the mount is. I bought it from a local 4wd shop. It was listed as a universal mount with a six inch drop. I had the brackets made to make up for the extra three inches. It really works well. The sway bar is stock as far as I know. I had new springs made about seven years ago. Instead of the progressive rate double leafs I had a stack of five leafs made. This gave me back the level ride height and much better handling. Anyway, thanks for the complement on the cleanliness. I've put a lot of time and work into this project.


09-30-2001, 05:49 PM
my father in law is part owner in a speed and rod shop, along with being involved in a few other garages he has built some custom vans some hot rods, and one very fast little GTO, I posed these same questions to him his response mirrored what most of us have said however for my 69 c90 it is to be a 350 motor, aproximately 300 horse, in front of a turbo 400 with a shift kit. chevy 10 0r 12 bolt rear end with posi lock. still working out what gearing. any suggestions whould be appreciated.

09-30-2001, 07:45 PM
Well I've been looking into the 700r4 trannies and I've got a question for someone who has done the swap. From what I've found they are originally equipped with computer controls (for the stall converter?). Obviously this will not work in an early. Some hotrod suppliers are building them with throttle control cables instead, but the $1500 price tag for these things is out there. I'd like to get one from a junk yard to save money (even if I get it rebuilt locally) but I'm wonder how to get around the computer control thing.
Any info out there?

09-30-2001, 10:01 PM
Well first off, you are correct about the price tag on a new 700. I believe mine ran somewhere around 1600 bucks. As for the electronics, here is the answer you're looking for. www.bowtieoverdrives.com (http://www.bowtieoverdrives.com) is who I purchased my trans from. They also sell a kit www.tvmadeez.com (http://www.tvmadeez.com) that takes care of the trans kickdown operation. I think it ran me about a hundred bucks, but once you see the website, you'll understand how and why this kit is necessary. Don't be fooled by other aftermarket companies kits. They don't work as well and are harder to adjust. The computer control is replaced by a switch that is activated by the brake light control switch. The pigtail on the trans is wired through a relay and this switch. Apparently the way it works is like this. When you are driving normally without your foot on the brake pedal, the torque converter is in lockup (this is also important in keeping the heat produced by the trans to a minimum). When you put your foot on the brake, the switch is activated and the converter is unlocked (to prevent stalling). You also have the option of installing a manual switch to lock the converter when towing, pulling a hill etc... Again this helps keep heat production to a minimum. I would reccommend that you first check out the above websites for info (they are very informative) and secondly, call Steve at Bowtie Overdrives and run any specific questions by him. He is quite knowledgable and will definately provide you with answers and understanding. Just tell him you are considering buying a 700 and wanted to know about the lock up converter and kickdown switch. I have the full install and wiring harness manual that I will scan and post here soon for those of you interested, assuming there are no copyright clauses printed on it. Hope this helps.


[This message has been edited by vannman67 (edited October 02, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by vannman67 (edited October 02, 2001).]

10-01-2001, 12:18 AM
Yeah, I'll probably have to get them (BTO) to make me a special, extra-long TV cable, since my carb sits sideways so high above the motor.
I hear that the early 700's aren't as good as the later ones.
The one I got is the Corvette model, the only one that will do a wide-open 3 to 4 upshift.
I got the last year before they went to electronic, and I also got a Hughes 2500 stall converter with their extra-big lockup clutch.
Now all I have to do is get another one for TacoVan, and put them both in! --- TV

10-01-2001, 07:49 PM
Thanks for the info source, but could you check the second link you posted?
I clicked on it & got nowhere.

10-02-2001, 08:58 AM
Sorry for the bad link. Its fixed now, just click on it again.

aka Bryan Corbitt
1967 Chevy Sportvan 108"

10-02-2001, 11:18 PM
Thanks for the new link.
I just emailed them some TV cable questions. --- TV

10-03-2001, 08:41 AM
hey vanman67, i saw the trans mount on you pics site, pretty sweet set up, and a 700 also!!!! too cool!!!! you said that you got it from a local 4wd shop, would it be a problem to check out what brand it is? by looking at the picture and your written description, the application seems to be pretty basic. does the support come with a mounting plate on it?i am very interested in the set up, i plan on checking the 4wd shops around here to see if they got this type of mount.