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How late did other manufacturers use the BW overdrive?

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  • How late did other manufacturers use the BW overdrive?

    As I understand it, Studebaker used the Borg Warner overdrive transmissions until the bitter end. I'm just curious...how late did other car manufacturers use overdrive? Was Studebaker the last? What other transmission manufacturers made a "true" overdrive besides BW?
    Inquiring minds want to know!
    Mike Davis
    Regional Manager, North Carolina
    1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

  • #2
    Both Ford and Chevy offered overdrive into the early '70's, I think, but such cars are very rare. I suspect that overdrive cars had to be special-ordered from the factory, and probably never sat on a dealer's lot. I'd be delighted to have someone prove me wrong!
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    • #3
      AMC and Volvo offered overdrive transmissions until the 1980's, though they were Laycock deNormanville units by then; not Borg Warner.

      Craig

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      • #4
        Ford pickups used the B-W T85 up into the '70s.

        There was the Doug Nash 4+3 overdrive in Corvettes up into the '84-88 models.

        jack viens
        PackardV8

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gordr View Post
          Both Ford and Chevy offered overdrive into the early '70's, I think, but such cars are very rare. I suspect that overdrive cars had to be special-ordered from the factory, and probably never sat on a dealer's lot. I'd be delighted to have someone prove me wrong!
          When I worked at Dominion Ford in Vancouver I PDI'd a 1970 Galaxie which had OD. Ford would not admit to supplying OD to the point that it wasn't listed in the parts book. For parts we had to go to Bert's Automotive,

          Terry

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          • #6
            I thought Volvo was using the BW od units very late, as long as they were running rwd cars.
            Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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            • #7
              never mentioned before to my knowledge, but many drivers who left the OD handle pushed "IN", or engaged did not like the free-wheeling when driving in certain conditions....enter AT

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              • #8
                Volvos did have have overdrive, but it was the British Laycock de Normanville design as also used on Triumphs, etc. Electric over hydraulic controls. I have such a transmission in my parts stash. The Volvo input shaft is very similar to that of a Champion transmission.
                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gordr View Post
                  Volvos did have have overdrive, but it was the British Laycock de Normanville design as also used on Triumphs, etc. Electric over hydraulic controls. I have such a transmission in my parts stash. The Volvo input shaft is very similar to that of a Champion transmission.
                  The Laycock OD was very simple to operate. Just a switch on the shift knob or a stalk on the column that opened an electrically operated valve to allow trans fluid from a pump to the planetary gear set. A switch in series only let it operate in 3rd and 4th or just 4th for those cars with bigger motors that would stress the unit with the torque multiplication in 3rd. No cable, no kickdown, no free wheeling, no governor. Just in or out. MGB used it to their end in 1980. Volvo into the 80's.

                  I was explaining it to my 19 year old grandson. He got it, but openly wondered "Why so complicated. Why didn't they just add a 5th gear." Good question.
                  Last edited by Dick Steinkamp; 11-11-2015, 10:32 AM.
                  Dick Steinkamp
                  Bellingham, WA

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dick Steinkamp View Post
                    The Laycock OD was very simple to operate. Just a switch on the shift knob or a stalk on the column that opened an electrically operated valve to allow trans fluid from a pump to the planetary gear set. A switch in series only let it operate in 3rd and 4th or just 4th for those cars with bigger motors that would stress the unit with the torque multiplication in 3rd. No cable, no kickdown, no free wheeling, no governor. Just in or out. MGB used it to their end in 1980. Volvo into the 80's.

                    I was explaining it to my 19 year old grandson. He got it, but openly wondered "Why so complicated. Why didn't they just add a 5th gear." Good question.
                    Well, for one thing the tranny was a three speed (at least on the Studes). The OD was matched to the three speed so you could use it to split gears making six available ratios forward. The od was a popular option in mountainous areas of the country.

                    You could get mid twenties economy with a stude back in the fifties and sixties. Pretty darned good!

                    I guess the laycock od unit resembles the BW...?
                    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by t walgamuth View Post
                      Well, for one thing the tranny was a three speed (at least on the Studes). The OD was matched to the three speed so you could use it to split gears making six available ratios forward. The od was a popular option in mountainous areas of the country.
                      I really doubt if many people actually USED 6 gears. With the governor, 1st over would be hard (and pretty useless once engaged) to use. 2nd over is a possibility, but I would think not many owners used it often if at all.

                      The OD was actually pretty dangerous in mountainous areas due to the freewheeling (no engine braking) on down hills.

                      Your thought that the BW OD could just be bolted to an existing transmission makes sense. Also, US automakers were doing column shifted transmissions then and it would have been confusing to offer a 4 speed OD on the column in addition to the standard 3 speed.
                      Dick Steinkamp
                      Bellingham, WA

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                      • #12
                        In about 1985, an elderly couple brought a factory stick-shift '55 President Speedster to our garage for service work.....My partner noticed the OD handle was pulled fully out, and pretty much stuck in that position.

                        Questioning the owners of the car, (which they purchased brand new), they said that in the thirty or so years they've owned it, they had never used, or realized they even had, overdrive!!!!!!

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                        • #13
                          My dad special ordered a 66 *hevy carryall with the 283, 3-speed o/d with 4:11 gears. Between he and I, we put, I would guess, over 300K miles on it(the odometer quit working at about 140K miles). I used it to tow my racecar as well as a Ditchwitch when I had a trenching company. I went into the transmission once and replaced some of the parts in the overdrive with parts from a salvaged AMC transmission. The overdrive always worked well and the biggest problem I had was with the column shifter. It always seemed to hang up between two gears at the most awkward time.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lark55 View Post
                            My dad special ordered a 66 *hevy carryall with the 283, 3-speed o/d with 4:11 gears. Between he and I, we put, I would guess, over 300K miles on it(the odometer quit working at about 140K miles). I used it to tow my racecar as well as a Ditchwitch when I had a trenching company. I went into the transmission once and replaced some of the parts in the overdrive with parts from a salvaged AMC transmission. The overdrive always worked well and the biggest problem I had was with the column shifter. It always seemed to hang up between two gears at the most awkward time.
                            Studes are known for that 'hangup' deal too......That's the main reason I switched to a Hurst 'Syncro-Loc' in my Speedster (The Doctor's Car)
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dick Steinkamp View Post
                              I was explaining it to my 19 year old grandson. He got it, but openly wondered "Why so complicated. Why didn't they just add a 5th gear." Good question.
                              I have wondered that myself! With today's six and even eight speed automatics, it seems logical.
                              Mike Davis
                              Regional Manager, North Carolina
                              1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

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