By on May 16, 2013

TransmissionManOutIt wasn’t that many decades ago that imported cars— any imported cars— were considered fairly exotic. I’ve dredged up memories of some very funny 1980 Aamco ads that deal with that subject, and the internet has obliged by providing those very ads for us!

The bumbling rubes working in the transmission shop in this ad show some brilliant casting by the producers: “I watched a guy fix a Japanese trans-mish-ion!”

Speaking of bumbling rubes, the guy with the hose in this one deserved an Academy Award… but don’t let that brilliant performance eclipse the perfect stonefaced expression of the customer who doesn’t need his car fixed… that bad.

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25 Comments on “Hey Duke, Ever Worked On One-a-Dese Choiman Transmissions Before?...”

  • avatar

    FUNNY ! .

    AMMCO is a franchise deal and experience has taught us that it’s hands down the very worst place to allow to touch your car .

    I remember one AMMCO add that had two monkeys beating a slush box with baseball bats , about the real story @ AMMCO sadly .


    • 0 avatar

      Yep, I’ve had one rebuilt there, didn’t shift right when cold, and they wouldn’t do anything.
      I’ve also seen transmissions they rebuilt using parts from the local junkyard(they mark all their parts).

  • avatar

    Automatic transmissions still feel like vodo for most of us. I feel like I understand the inner-workings of most automotive components but automatic/dual-clutch/CVT units I’m still at the mercy of the transmission guy.

    • 0 avatar

      manual gearboxes are easy to understand and CVTs are simple too… they are just belts and concentric cones but yes, automatic and DSG units arent as well understand but for me, i dont care to understand them… i dont care too much for autos and DSGs and why i dont like CVTs i do like their simple efficiency

      oh and as far as transmission commericals go…

      you cannot beat this:

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        Thank you so much, that commercial is gold, I laughed my ass off.

        I don’t trust a human to rebuild a transmission perfectly, way too complex, I’d rather gamble on a junkyard unit.

      • 0 avatar

        Modern CVTs in cars use torque converters and planetary gears – so you can’t understand how they work without understanding how a normal torque converter automatic works. Not that it’s particularly complicated..

  • avatar

    what this brings to mind for me is that a lot of things that we once took for granted as being repairable are now thought of as disposable/replacement items. there are darn few places to take a 8 speed transmission for repair these days and even many 6 speed units are considered as non repair items. and then think of fuel systems… using a carb rebuild kit of a mechanical fuel pump rebuild kit was the norm for even home mechanics not too long ago… who do you know who opens up a common rail injector system to rebuild it these days… even for fun

    • 0 avatar

      Rebuilt my Wagoneer’s Rochester 2gc a couple months ago.

      The process blows goats. Millions of little pieces and things to adjust just right. Also, make sure you’ve got the right specs for your year and not one newer or older because they’re different. Make a mistake and it all comes back off and apart.

      Contrast that to replacing easily replaceable portions of an existing system. Sensor gone bad? 3 bolts and one plug to remove it.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, but that is one of the easier carbs to rebuild. You just haven’t lived until you’ve worked on a 1980s Japanese 3-BBL. There are so many brass screw-in plugs, with balls/rods/springs underneath, that you pretty much have to diagram them as you take it apart.

      • 0 avatar

        If you think the 2GC is bad, try a Quadrajet sometime …..

      • 0 avatar

        I can rebuild a 2GC in about two hours, while watching TV. I’ve done enough carbs that they aren’t a challenge to me, in my circle of friends, I’m the carb doctor.

        Usually all that goes wrong on a 2GC or any Rochester 2-jet is the accelerator pump wears out, seldom if ever theres any real trash in the float bowl, and the cast iron base is next to impossible to warp, and just re-gasket it, no need to take the check balls out or unstake things.

    • 0 avatar

      Impossible to repair, yes. They last MUCH longer and are MUCH more reliable than they used to be though. Sorta makes up for it.

  • avatar

    The closest AAMCO to me doesn’t rebuild anything. They don’t diagnose anything that requires any disassembly. They pull out the old and put in one that’s been rebuilt at a local shop. I suspect that’s not uncommon. If you need a transmission, and the local rebuilder is good then they can do a good job. If you have a crappy local rebuilder, then you’re going to have a bad time. I’d rather dive into it, find the problem and fix rather than diagnose “needs new transmission” for every problem.

  • avatar

    “Look in the yella pages for the one nearest you!” Oh man this is vintage. The actors in these ads all look familiar somehow.

    The fact that a national chain of franchised transmission shops would spend big bucks to make TV spots really says something about how cars were back in the day.

    I dunno about Aamco but I had excellent luck with Lee Myles once rebuilding the trans in my Chevy.

  • avatar

    Great commercials, but I’d echo that you don’t let AAMCO near your transmission. A common tactic is to tear it down and then give you a sky-high quote. “What’s that, you’ll pass, okay, pay us this and we’ll put it back together.”

    When transmissions were simple and a shadetree guy could rebuild them, I’m sure places like AAMCo were fine, but a modern automatic transmission is in most cases the single most complex part of the entire car.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I worked at an independent tranny shop one summer. I went to college to get my business degree to one day own my own shop. Not necessarily a transmission shop. I still couldn’t tell you anything about the inner workings. It was my first ever job and I was TERRIBLE at it. All I was allowed to do was do the fluid changes and pull/install trannys. I hated every minute of it and often fantasized about having some sort of catastrophic accident and shattering my legs which would mean I didn’t have to go to work the next day. That was when I decided I wasn’t going to work in the auto repair industry.

    I am also interested in what a Topsy Tip was.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I believe that the AAMCO franchisee is required to buy their rebulit trannys from the AAMCO rebuilding shop. The AAMCO retail shop simply swaps a rebuilt tranny with the old one. Therefore, any internal problems with the tranny are on AMPCO and installation issues are on the local shop.

  • avatar

    Gotta say I love all the misplaced hate. As some people have correctly mentioned these are a franchise. As someone who worked in one of these places for several years I can say at least the following.

    These locations are entirely separate — i.e., that are not profit or investment centers run in any way by head office. All the franchisees pay, aside from the initial fee, is an ongoing commission on net sales of around 10%, a fee for calls forwarded through the 1800 GO AAMCO line, and a certain restrictions on media buys and marketing materials. They must also agree to honour the worldwide warranty of other divisions at cost, for which they are reimbursed. There are no sales quotas.

    The training any of the employees receive is actually likely better than the average independent shop, as they actually do have very good CPD through head office on new transmissions as they come out. They also have central tech support for issues beyond the scope of the techs at the field. They hire and recruit from the exact same employee pool as any other shop would and there is no more race to the bottom to increase profits that there isn’t at any of these businesses.

    At an aggregate level, there is no logical reason that you are more likely to be ripped off at an AAMCO than a normal shop.

    Not trying to be a fanboy, but just hate to see an entire brand besmirched, as I know several AAMCO owners who work incredibly hard and run a very good and honest operation.

  • avatar
    old fart

    My family friends and I have had good luck with a local builder in Cleveland, Custom Trans. They started out doing race transmissions many years ago and now do all drive line work for any car,( and I don’t work for them or know any of them personally )

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Don’t talk to me right now about choiman cars.

    Mine (very new and very low mileage) has experienced electrical problems galore and the dealership is good, but stymied.

    You listenin’ Mercedes?

    German mechanical engineering is superb.

    Their electrical engineers apparently all have degrees in womyn’s studies.

  • avatar

    I remember those commercials. I also remember the one afterward that gets cut off (“Hey, honey, look!”)–definitely made me smile. I love watching old commercials and seeing that I can buy a brand new Chevy for $3k and seeing Toyota owners jump.

    Ah, nostalgia!

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    HEY! George W Bush worked for Aamco before getting the governors gig!! who would have thought that??. Wow! no wonder he was so decisive in government!,anyone who can figure an auto trans valve body just has to understand Republican politics.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I’ve never had any dealings with AAMCO, back in the ’70s they got a lot of negative publicity about some of their business practices. If I remember correctly one of their tricks was to tear the transmission apart and then give the owner a sky high quote on reassembling the transmission. All the negative publicity definitely made me stay well away from their shops.

  • avatar

    Why do they look confused before blowing the horn at the end of each commercial? Its really weird.

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