As we reflect on all the modern transmissions that we now deal with on a daily basis, and look back on the old 2- and 3-speed automatics that most of us cut our teeth on, it makes you think about how things have changed in our lifetimes.
While many of us are already working on 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-speed transmissions, with even more gears to come over the next few years, there’s one area that’s been surprisingly slow to change: Hot rods, street machines, and most engine conversions are largely restricted to 3- and 4-speed transmissions.
There are a couple reasons for this. In the case of the 3-speed and early hydraulic 4-speed transmissions, the reason was clear: Customers want to keep it simple; they don’t want electronics.
But even for those that are interested in the later, electronic 4-speed transmissions requiring standalone transmission controllers, there was always a delay as we waited for aftermarket technology to catch up.
A lot has changed over the years, and customers are getting used to all these extra gears that they’re seeing in the later-model vehicles. Many are starting to ask for ways to take advantage of those extra gears. Recently we’ve seen an abrupt change from the 3- and 4-speed to the 5- and 6-speed automatic transmissions.
The mantra today is “more gears are better,” or at least that’s what they believe. I’ve tried to explain that four gears will do fine, but even I’ve found myself wanting the option of more gears if a standalone system was available for my car.
So has the standalone-computer world caught up enough to give us the range we’re looking for? The short answer is “yes, for the most part,” and the range is growing exponentially. It won’t be long before most 5-, 6-, and 8-speed transmissions are covered by standalone control systems.
I’ve compiled a short list of what’s readily available and what’s about to be released. Obviously most of the older, 4-speed automatics, like the Chevy 4L60E, 4L80E, 4T65E, Ford AODE, 4R70E, E4OD, 4R100, ZF 4HP-24, Nissan RE4R01A, RE4R03A, Toyota A340, A341, A343, and A442 are well-represented.
Currently we see that the 5-speed Ford 5R110, Nissan RE5R05A, Toyota A750, and Chrysler WA580 / Mercedes NAG1 are also available, but this is where it starts to get interesting.
The 6-speed range is just about to burst onto the market, with HGM Electronics Compushift Controllers leading the way, beginning with the Toyota A761 and AB60 system. This unit is available as a complete, standalone kit, with a full plug-and-play wiring harness and out-of-the-box calibrations to suit most applications.
HGM’s 6L80/90E and 6R80E control systems are also now well into the advanced stages of development. Remember, these are all standalone systems that’ll fit a number of different engine configurations, from carbureted to CAN bus control systems.
So it doesn’t matter if you have a cast-iron block with a carbie V8, a late-model EFI aluminum block, an old diesel, or maybe the latest diesel available: All of these are now covered and the kits are readily available.
What steers the development of each of these transmissions controllers? Demand. The 6L80/90E and 6R80E are being released later this year because it just makes sense. The demand is there: Customers want these systems.
This isn’t just because these transmissions have more gears; it’s also because they’re either readily available from wrecking yards as cutouts or from many transmission shops that are already rebuilding and upgrading them.
So introducing these new con trollers was the next logical step, not just for them but also for you. If you have a project that involves a Chevy 6L80E, 6L90E, Ford 6R80, or a Toyota A761 or AB60 6-speed automatic transmission, give HGM a call: We’ll be happy keep you up to date with the progress.
We certainly have some exciting times ahead and, within the next year, I’m sure we’ll be talking about even more gears. But for now, if you need any information about your standalone transmission controller requirements, then hop on over to HGM’s Compushift web page, at www.hgmelectronics.com, or feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.