By on May 12, 2022

Our Abandoned History coverage of the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission series continues today. The THM was a singular solution to two different automatic transmissions in use by Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Buick in 1963. Turbo-Hydramatic arrived at a time of modernization for the automatic, which prior to the mid-Sixties was regarded as inefficient and less than smooth.

The THM400 was the 1964 replacement for the Hydra-Matic and Buick’s Dynaflow and established itself as a smooth and reliable gearbox. It proved useful in a variety of luxury and heavy-duty applications and shrugged off weight and torque easily. In short order, it took off as the transmission of choice for various small manufacturers outside of GM. However, no matter how excellent the THM400 was, it found itself squeezed by a drive toward greater fuel efficiency. It was also a bit hefty to be of broad use in smaller or lighter passenger cars. GM needed more Turbo-Hydramatics!

(Read More…)

By on May 3, 2022

A few weeks ago, we concluded Abandoned History’s two-part coverage of the Chrysler UltraDrive transmission. Within the comments was a request for more transmission coverage of an equally abandoned nature. Let it be so! Come along as we discuss the vast automatically shifted expanse that was the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission family, by General Motors.

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By on April 28, 2022

Toyota

Toyota is developing a performance 8-speed automatic for the GR Yaris, and potentially for other models, as well.

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2022

We finish up our Abandoned History coverage of the long-lived UltraDrive transmission today. The pursuit of simplification, modernization, less weight, and better fuel economy lead to the creation of the electronically controlled four-speed A604 marketed as UltraDrive. The idea floated around at Chrysler in the Seventies and then was greenlit and put into production (before it was ready) by an eager Lee Iacocca. A case of unfortunate timing, the new transmission arrived in 1989 at a time when there was almost no exciting news in Chrysler’s product portfolio. Thus the UltraDrive name was coined by marketing, and the new and advanced transmission was featured heavily in the company’s PR materials in 1989 and 1990.

The UltraDrive’s debut version was prone to numerous types of failures because of fluids and sensors, build quality, parts, really everything. But engineers at Chrysler quickly massaged the A604 into the improved 41TE that was ready for use midway through the 1990 build year. UltraDrive was up and running within acceptable reliability standards per Chrysler. Clearly, it was time to create more UltraDrive variations!

(Read More…)

By on April 7, 2022

The recent Rare Rides Icons post on the 1990 Chrysler Imperial Super-K Gingerbread Cookie Edition generated a few comments not only about the subject in question but its four-speed UltraDrive transmission. It seems more than one of you wants a discussion – no – an essay on the UltraDrive. Wish granted! Here we go.

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By on September 1, 2020

Chrysler Corp

It’s late 1995, and your author is blundering through his first year of high school. Gangly, awkward… frankly, the whole thing is best left unremembered. Beyond those school walls, however, world events were coming to a head. O.J. apparently didn’t do it, Quebec almost became a country, the Unabomber’s manifesto made it to print, and in two assembly plants in Ontario and Delaware, big things were taking place between the front seats.

There, Chrysler Corp was busy outfitting two variants of its 1996 model-year LH cars — the Dodge Intrepid ES and Eagle Vision TSi, to be exact — with a new type of transmission. Called Autostick, it allowed the driver of Chrysler’s sportiest cab-forward sedans to make the most of their four forward gears. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2020

Ford has weathered heavy criticism for moving bunk transmissions for some time. Normally, that conversation revolves around the PowerShift DSP6 (aka Getrag 6DCT250) installed in passenger cars with names beginning with the letter “F.”

The unit turned out to have a laundry list of problems and ultimately created a ruckus between management, engineers, and Ford’s legal team. Concerned that scrapping the dual-clutch automatic at the last minute would prove a costly decision in the midst of our last economic recession, the manufacturer ran with it — only to be confronted with annoyed consumers who felt the transmission wasn’t anywhere near up to par.

While the DSP6 is the unit that gets top billing for What Were They Thinking: The Movie, it wasn’t the only transmission prompting headaches in Dearborn. Another Getrag-sourced unit, the MT82 six-speed manual, is allegedly a sore sport for Mustang drivers. Owners of 2011-2019 model year Ford Mustangs are now suing the manufacturer for delivering what they claim is another faulty product.  (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2020

Very few quirky cars remain in today’s homogeneous vehicle landscape, but the Hyundai Veloster can count itself among that offbeat cohort. The Veloster N cranks up the fun quotient considerably, adding 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to the oddball three-door package. More power can be drawn from the turbo 2.0-liter via a performance package.

A recent entry to the Hyundai lineup, the Veloster N has thus far been available only with a six-speed manual. No problem there, this writer says, but Hyundai clearly felt otherwise. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2020

Subaru Ascent

In an effort to build more things where they’re needed, Subaru of Indiana Automotive will spend $158 million expanding its Lafayette plant. Construction begins this summer.

The cash covers a standalone service parts facility and an add-on to the existing plant, home to the Ascent, Outback, Legacy, and Impreza. That addition will see the automaker’s only non-Japanese facility build the transmissions needed to serve a growing market.

As you’ve read here, Subaru expects to spend 2020 selling. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

hyundai

Since the automatic transmission’s birth shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, driver input and road load have dictated what gear a traditional autobox finds itself in. But what if a tranny could instead predict the optimal gear for the road not yet travelled?

That’s a question Hyundai and sister division Kia claim to have answered. Enter the company’s just-announced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

Frank writes:

So, reading about the Lithium Mustang with its completely superfluous six-speed gearbox got me and some friends thinking about when you need a transmission and when you don’t.

We all know that steam engines and electric motors torque from the git-go and never need transmissions, whereas ICE engines can’t do that. But then we realized none of us knew why. So, that’s the question — why can’t ICE engines torque like those others? (Read More…)

By on December 9, 2019

1993 Plymouth Voyager in Colorado wrecking yard , hood ornament - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

As the automotive industry fluxes towards utility vehicles and electrics, the death of familiar nameplates has become an all-too-common occurrence. Goodbye, Focus, Fiesta, Taurus, LaCrosse, and Regal. And goodbye, too, to the Ultradrive four-speed automatic transmission, which meets its end in the coming year.

The Pentastar-stamped unit — seemingly older than Kirk Douglas’ dad — meets its maker after a lengthy career managing power in a dizzying array of models. (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2019

1991 Toyota Camry in Colorado wrecking yard, manual gearshift - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Ready to be depressed? Your author knows he is. After buying a new manual-transmission vehicle last year, the model he purchased has since fallen under Mary Barra’s axe, and the transmission type he so loves is now rarer than an albino moose.

How rare? The number of electric vehicles sold in the third quarter of this year is greater than the number of manual-transmission cars sold during the same period. Life comes at you fast. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2019

ZF Friedrichshafen has agreed to supply Fiat Chrysler with its second-largest order to date. While top honors belong to BMW, FCA will be using the same eight-speed automatic transmissions sourced for the Bavarian-based applications. “Optimized for electrification” as per ZF’s press announcement, the gearboxes are designed for longitudinally mounted engines ⁠— including those utilizing hybrid systems.  (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2019

As per its $11 billion investment in electrification, Ford intends to have 40 electrified vehicles — 16 of which will be battery-only — on sale by 2022. That includes the widespread hybridization of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. As towing has not historically been a great strength of hybrids, the automaker is developing a new transmission system it calls “modular hybrid technology.”

The system, which debuts on the 2020 Explorer, is said to incorporate an electric motor, clutch and torque converter to help vehicles deliver superior fuel economy without sabotaging a vehicle’s ability to haul ass or whatever customers choose to hitch up behind the tailgate.  (Read More…)

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