View Full Version : Transmission help.....

09-25-2006, 08:31 PM
I need to decide what transmission to put in my '56 Transtar... the Stude' 259 has an adapter plate for a 700R4 trans to bolt up to it (that's what was in it previously). Question is, what would the better, more reliable trans be to install, a Turbo 350 or a 700R4... I've had differing opinions from several people locally and want to get some "expert" feedback from you guys... Thanks

'56 Transtar... project in the works

09-25-2006, 08:41 PM
The 350 is certainly simpler and better understood by old school rodders, but the 700R4 has an overdrive so if it's built right it will make for much more relaxed cruising and maybe even a little $$ savings.


55 Commander Starlight

09-25-2006, 08:48 PM

I don't pretend to be an expert on these GM offerings. However, what I've read is that the O/D of the 700R4 is a real boon to driveability. Makes sense too! Do you know what rear axle is under the truck now? If it's a standard Stude truck axle, likely it's not taller than 3.73. That seems to have been the standard fare for trucks that came with a Flight-o-Matic.
If the truck was one with a T-85 ot T-89 W/OD, it probably came with a 4.09, 4.27, or even a 4.55 rear gear ratio. Those 3 work nicely with an overdrive setup as the 30% advantage of the OD gearing makes for a decent RPM under the hood. Without OD, any of those 4 ratios I mentioned would have you high-revving and stopping at lots of gas pumps.
While the 700R4 seems to have a reputation of not doing well under heavy loading, it seems to do well unloaded and just cruising along. I'd say if this truck was gonna see more pleasure driving, the OD capability would be a plus. Now if you're gonna load that baby down with a bed full of gravel or wet bark, the 700R4 would still do OK so long as you kept it out of the OD range.
Again, this opinion is drawn from what I've read of other's experiences. I actually bought an adaptor kit for my truck some years ago but I like the 3-spd stick with O/D too much.[^]

Miscreant adrift in
the BerStuda Triangle!!

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe

09-25-2006, 08:50 PM
Mr. Biggs... truck has a ford 9" rear from a '75 t'bird in it... and I'm not sure what the gearing is in it, but I will investigate.

'56 Transtar... project in the works

09-25-2006, 11:00 PM
If you decide to use the 700R4 trans, find a 1988 or later version..
The later ones had a better front pump and the upgrades to cure the earlier problems..

65 Commander 2door
64 Wagonaire
63 Champ
63 GT Hawk
51 Champion Starlight Coupe

Mike Van Veghten
09-25-2006, 11:54 PM
Properly built the 200-4R or the 700-R4 will hold any power a Stude can pass out. Yes...all the way to 900+ hp.

That said, your adapter will allow the attachment of any GM V-8 trans. to bolt up. Personally I like the 200-4R trans. Better gear ratios, lighter, smaller, overall more efficent.
I've got one for my Conestoga (unless I decide to go for Jerrys bellhousing!).


09-26-2006, 05:31 AM
Mike, just make sure you state that the 200-4R wont handle a V8 torque
right out of a donor, whereas the 1987 1/2 and newer 700-R4 from a V8
car will work out-of-the-box. It IS true that a properly built 200 is
a NICE trans, but it needs a decent amount of help to get there, that
equals a lot of money. A used good 700 can be found for $300 to $500
with all the bells and whistles. If you get one from a TBI car, than
you can get the TV cable and bracket. Rememeber that the TV Cable is
NOT like the "kick-down" cable from the Flight-o-matic. A missing TV
Cable will NOT allow the trans to build pressure to shift from first,
an improperly adjusted TV Cable with burn up a good 700 OR 200 trans
in a couple hundred miles. You can also opt for the 4L60 trans that
is a slight upgrade from a 700-R4, OR you can get a 4L60 from behind
an LT1 engine, which has the "Corvette" servo, and crisper shifts. One
other option, if you want the creme de la creme, is the 4L60E trans.
It is a computer controlled version of the 4L60, which is quite nice
to drive. Talk about instantly having the gear you need, when you need
it! I have one in my 1995 Impala SS clone, & my wifes 95 Camaro Z28.
Had an 1989 700-R4 in my 1960 Hawk I totalled back in the mid-to-late
90's, and a 4L60 in my 93 Camaro Z28 (which the wife wrecked tonight).

EDIT : I forgot to mention the "TH400-R4" the 4L80/4L80E. These are
heavy bullet proof transmissions that are usually in motorhomes and
tow trucks. They are BIG, BAD, and probably overkill for your truck.


'63 Avanti, zinc plated drilled & slotted 03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, soon: 97 Z28 T-56 6-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves, 'R3' 276 cam, Edelbrock AFB Carb, GM HEI distributor, 8.8mm plug wires

09-26-2006, 08:25 AM
Sorta on topic~ anyone got any pictures of the mods required to put one of these transmissions in a Stude? More specifically, I'd Like to see what you have to do to the frame...
Thanks in advance!

StudeDave [8D]
V/P San Diego County SDC
San Diego, Ca

'54 Commander 4dr 'Ruby'
'57 Parkview (it's a 2dr wagon...) 'Betsy'
'57 Commander 2dr 'Baby'
'57 Champion 2dr 'Jewel'
'58 Packard sedan 'Cleo'
'65 Cruiser 'Sweet Pea'

Mike Van Veghten
09-26-2006, 11:02 AM

NOT totally true !

If you get one out of a Grand National or other factory Turbo Buick...the 200-4R WILL handle most all streetable Studebaker horse power.

But yea, it's actually not much different than the 700 in OEM form though...they both need a little to a lot of help in most all cases.


09-26-2006, 01:23 PM
Mike, I will give you the Turbo Buicks (wasnt there an Olds also?) but
those arent going to be as plentiful and cheap as a common V8 700-R4.
The early 700's 87 and older, are complete junk, and unless you plan
on swaping out almost EVERYTHING internally, you would be better off
with a standard 200 trans. Because the V8 700s are so common, they
are a better cheaper choice across the board. An OEM later 700 will
handle even a mild Studebaker engine just fine. I would add a Vette
servo, and a shift kit to a 700 used behind an R1 or R2, or a truck
thats used for towing. In ALL cases a trans cooler MUST be added.[B)]

I am not knocking your leaning toward the 200 trans for drag racing,
it makes sense there, lighter, and you mention gear ratios. But the
common swap into a Stude would see an OEM trans used, not a built one
from Art Carr or the other 200 trans gurus. The OEM 200 trans might
make a nice addition behind a Stude straight 6 though!;)

StudeDave, what mods are required depends on the model car, and the
trans used. For my 60 Hawk, it was amazingly easy to do. I got a
driveshaft from an early 70's Chevelle, and modified the crossmember
that goes from a-pillar to a-pillar (the BIG one on a Hawk) with a
hole for the GM rear trans mount. The spot welded seam was cut off
to the spot welds to clear the 700-R4 pan. A friend of mine had his
cut with a band saw, and a piece of steel welded in. I like his job
better as the finish looked cleaner and gave more room. About an inch
needs to be removed from the front edge only at the pan area. The OEM
trans mount can be used then. I used a B&M racket shifter, though its
not the cheap way to go - a shifter from the salvage yard will work.
The trans I got was from a TBI 305 Camaro RS, so I used the bracket
at the TBI, bent it to bolt to one of the rear bolts on the intake. I
used an Edelbrock carb with a 1/2 spacer, so I would have the mount
for the TV cable. I added a universal trans cooler. It cost me just
over $1000 by searching, and doing all the work myself. The shifter
was abou 180 of that! Used trans for 37,000 was 300 bucks complete.
But, as Mike will point out, not everyone will be able to do it that
cheap, and there can be hidden costs with any project!!


09-26-2006, 01:45 PM
I had a 700R4 in a 85 Astro van. Bought it new, hauled a travel trailor and a motorcycle trailor all over the country. Kept that van eleven years and one hundred fifty-seven miles with no trans. problems. I did change the oil and trans filter every thirty thousand miles. So I guess I can't call the early 700R4 junk. Maybe I was lucky.:)


09-26-2006, 01:54 PM
Champ .. you got lucky I think, or you "helped" the tran by manually
shifting it sometimes so it didnt lug? Heat is the enemy, & the early
700's shifted terribly, usually burning themselved up by slipping. An
engineer who used to work at my company went through (he says) 4 700s
during the 5 years he had his Astro van. I find that hard to believe,
but he stands by that claim.[B)]

I have 135,000 miles on the REBUILT 4L60 in the 93 Camaro. The muscle
cars dont tend to make it much past 100,000 miles on the OEM 700 trans.
It must be the lead foot behind the wheel.:D:D:D


09-26-2006, 02:00 PM
Tom, When towing I stayed out of overdrive.:)


09-26-2006, 06:25 PM
So... the general concensus seems to be for the 700R4 for drivability and gas economy... should I consider the turbo 350 if I intend to tow with the truck? Would that be the only reason to go with the Turbo 350 instead of the 700R4?

You guys are full of awesome info... thanks to all and to all those who will post in the future.

'56 Transtar... project in the works

09-26-2006, 11:04 PM
I think that if you stick with the '88 and newer rule of thumb for a
700 R4 trans, its going to be a little stronger then a 350. As Champ
mentioned, when towing (or just climbing a hill) NEVER use OD. This
builds up a lot of heat in the trans, and even though you will save
gas, a new transmission still costs more. (though out here in SoCal,
its pretty close!;):D[V])

Oh .. also the 700 has a lower first gear, which will help you get the
truck moving along when you ARE towing. Really is the best upgrade
that you can do to a Stude, the lower first gear gets you out of the
hole faster (then a FOM), and the OD saves you gas. Not many things
can be done to a car that improves MPG [b]AND performance!;)