Last post on Aug 05, 2012 at 9:10 AM
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Aug 03, 2012 (6:50 pm)
The '69 GTO's automatic/manual transmission ratio of 60 percent automatic/40 percent manual was quite a dramatic change from just three years earlier (1966) when 75 percent had the manual (3 or 4 speed) and 25 percent had the automatic (a 2-speed). The following year (1967) saw those numbers shift the other direction as a larger number had the automatic than the stick for the first time in GTO history. This was due to the introduction of the 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic for the first time, which replaced the 2-speed.
Similar results were found on Chevy's Chevelle SS-396 as sticks outnumbered Powerglides on this series in 1966 but then yielded to the slushboc when the Turbo Hydra-matic came out in 1967. Still, there were a lot of stick SS-396s (and later 454s) with the Turbo 400 accounting for 60-75 percent of sales in most of those years. This despite the fact the Chevelle with stick had the lousy Muncie shifter rather than the much-better Hurst shifter that came standard on all GTOs and Oldsmobile 4-4-2s with floor-mounted 3- or 4-speed sticks.
Olds 4-4-2s, surprisingly because of Oldsmobile's more upscale image than Pontiac or "Chevy, were also sold with the majority of them sticks with Hurst shifters in 1965 and 1966 (all '64 4-4-2s had the 4-speed) rather than the 2-speed Jetaway automatic (similar to the GTO's 2-speed). In 1967, when the 4-4-2 got the Turbo Hydra-matic as the shiftless option, automatics outnumbered sticks in this series by an even wider margin than in GTOs or SS-396s.
Corvettes for years had the greatest majority built with the 4-speed manual, while the 2-speed Powerglide and the standard 3-speed manual being the minority - mainly because the Corvette was a sports car and the fact the PG was only offered with the base engine and none of the optional mills. In 1968 when the 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic replaced the PG and made available with almost all engines, including the big block 427s - the ratio of manual/automatic Vettes went to about 60/40 and then 50/50 for 1969-70 before the automatic began dominating sales in later years.
#276 of 278 age and transmissions
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 04, 2012 (9:26 am)
Automatics make sense for the Corvette because the average age of the buyer is something like 58!
#277 of 278 Re: age and transmissions [Mr_Shiftright]
Aug 04, 2012 (3:00 pm)
Quite a change from the good 'ole days. Before the late 1960s, the idea of a sports car with an automatic transmission was considered to be "ridiculous" by many enthusiasts - most of the foreign sports cars came only with manual transmissions, and MG never offered an automatic in its models though Triumph caved in by adding an optional slushbox to the '76 TR-7. The '68 Mako Shark Vette had a wider transmission tunnel than the Sting Ray to permit the availability of the Turbo Hydra-matic 400, which did crowd into interior space (a bit more cramped than the Sting Ray). By then, the Corvette was placing more and more emphasis on luxury than all-out sport so the automatic did make sense and most were now sold with air conditioning, power windows and many had leather seats, too.
#278 of 278 Re: age and transmissions [potter660]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 05, 2012 (9:10 am)
How true. I do think, though, that you could get an automatic with the MGC, the rather poorly-received 6 cylinder version of the MGB.
Let's face it---for most folks, driving a full size Pontiac in the 60s or 70s as a 4-speed was a chore. The purists loved it but for most people, rowing that truck-like gearbox on a car was wide and high as the Queen Mary couldn't have been much fun day after day in traffic.