Abandoned History: General Motors' Turbo-Hydramatic Transmissions (Part III)

We return to the Turbo-Hydramatic once more today, and our third installment sees us at a critical point in the timeline of the automatic transmission. Fuel economy pressure from the government and performance demands of the consumer increased considerably in the intervening years since the THM’s debut in 1964. That meant the creation of lighter, more compact, and cheaper versions of the Turbo-Hydramatic compared to its flagship shifter, the THM400. GM branched out into the likes of the THM350, THM250, and the very problematic THM200.

In 1987, GM stepped away from the traditional THM naming scheme and switched to a new combination of letters and numbers. Number of gears, layout, and strength combined to turn the THM400 into the 3L80. But the hefty gearbox was already limited by then to heavier truck applications; passenger cars moved on to four forward gears after the dawn of the Eighties.

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Piston Slap: An LSX-FTW Bro-Ham?

TTAC commentator SavageATL writes:

I have a 1991 Cadillac Brougham, the old rear-wheel-drive model. The car was sitting for a long time, and it has a Chevy 305 with bad valve seals. Lesson: beware of low-low-mileage cars.

It smokes badly on startup after sitting and burns a good bit of oil — about one quart every 250 miles. I’ve driven it as-is for a while, but the day is coming when I’ll need to do something about it.

I was told that the heads would need to be replaced to the tune of about $800. I am thinking for that kind of money I can go ahead and swap out the 305 for an LS. I was quoted about $2,750 for a 5.3-liter junkyard LS swap and $3,750 for a 6.0-liter junkyard LS swap, start to finish.

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Piston Slap: Fanning the Dakota's Fail Flames for Cherokee LSX-FTW?

TTAC Commentator anti121hero writes:

Hello Sajeev! Very long time reader, but first time I’ve ever reached out. To start, I happen to be a huge RWD ford fan, (I’m actually helping my best friend put together his 94 mark viii). Now with your interest gained…

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  • Mike1041 Strange how the economies of scale ( tv, electronics) never show up in the auto industry.
  • FreedMike Short answer to the question: because manufacturers need to turn a profit on them so they can improve the tech and make it more affordable. It's the same pattern we've seen with many other "new tech" products, such as computers, smartphones, big screen TVs, etc. Same pattern is evident with new automotive tech. Here's one example: once upon a time, air conditioning was a costly, exotic option that only appeared on top-end models. Now it's hard to find an entry-level vehicle that doesn't have it. Why? Because the manufacturers were able to mark it up to the initial set of buyers, take the profits, and reinvest it into better, cheaper A/C systems. Same is true for things like automatic transmissions, stereo systems, power windows, fuel injection, ABS, navigation systems, and on and on. All of that equipment started on high-end models, and eventually filtered down to the cheaper ones. Nothing wrong with any of this.
  • CoastieLenn Can't wait for EBF to empart his wisdom upon us about how Ford is so much worse than just about every other manufacturer for increasing MSRP's to reflect production costs. It's happening across all propulsion types, we mostly only hear about it/ care when it involves the BEV/Hybrid.
  • JMII Despite the repeated claims that such vehicles are undesirable apparently enough people are willing to pay big bucks for EVs to keep prices going up. How else do you explain Rivian's and Hummer's EV selling on the used market for such crazy prices? I assume the OEM price increases simply reflect the broader overall market. If dealers can easily off load these at 10-20k over MSRP that means they are priced too low. The price of something can be disconnected from the actual manufacturing or parts cost. There is clearly an on going supply and demand problem. If not EVs would be stacked rows deep at your local dealer with "$ave Big" stickers on the windshields.
  • Bkojote These look fantastic, and give me some FJ Cruiser vibes with the colors in a good way.I guarantee you everyone hating on this drives a loser car.