Performance & Hotrod Business - July '15

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40 n Performance & Hotrod Business n July 2015 C ould it be so long ago that a four-on- the-floor meant exactly that—and an automatic offered fewer ratios still? R e m e m b e r w h e n t h e Tu r b o - Hydramatic 350 ruled the hobby? When a "350 with a 350" was the tried-and-true street-rod combination? Well, if you do, you probably also remember life before cell phones (when people yelling at people who aren't there actually were crazy), when floppy discs were still floppy, and when playing a video game required a roll of quarters. That 350- ci V-8 engine remains a staple in some cir- cles, even as others are beginning to view it as decidedly vintage. But fewer folks wax nostalgic over transmissions. For the most part, hot rod- ders and muscle car mavens alike are leav- ing the old three- and even four-speeds behind and shifting into 21st century gear. "We see newer transmissions being installed in muscle cars and street rods," reports T.J. Strange, a marketing special- ist at RPM Transmissions in Anderson Indiana, "where a six-plus-gear transmis- sion allows an older vehicle to be driven like a new one, with great performance and lots of tire-frying fun." And for other reasons as well, as we shall see. More than Four Speeds "There is certainly an interest in more forward gears, from the custom-car build- ers and even the muscle car enthusiasts," confirms Kevin Winstead, a technical sup- port representative at TCI Automotive in Ashland, Mississippi. "People realize that more forward gears makes a transmission more efficient, allowing for better per- formance with reasonable fuel economy, along with less wear on the engine." This is especially true of customers who are currently enjoying a four-, five- or six-speed automatic in their daily driver. "They see the benefit of this technology, and they want it in their street-driven hot rod." Ratios selected for performance add to the multi-speed transmission's appeal. "Contrary to popular belief," Strange explains, "these new six-plus-speed trans- missions don't offer any more overdrive ratio" than the previous generation of four- speed automatics. Instead, they regularly list a first gear ratio of over 4:1, represent- THe TranSMiSSion revoluTion More gears; more guts; more choices. The Street Rodder is TCI's entry-level performance automatic, for customers who want smoother shifting and have less than 500 horsepower. (Photo courtesy TCI Automotive) By John F. Katz HoTroD

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