There are a number of options to choose from when partnering a 383 Stroker engine with a transmissions system. It’s all a matter of application and here are a few options to consider with your next upgrade. I include a lot of options, not just the best, also the trans to avoid, which is just as important as knowing the best.
The Turbo Hydra-Matic 350
This transmission was used in 1969 models and was developed jointly by Buick and Chevrolet. They designed it to replace the two-speed Super Turbine 300 and the aluminum case Powerglide transmissions.
There are a number of versions, this is the THM350-C, which was phased out in 1984 in GM passenger cars and remained in vans until 1986.
What goes well for this transmission is a great gear spread between all the gears, and it was a very low-cost component. It is also capable of handling extreme power, and there is no TV cable involved. The stall converters were low cost, and there was a broad selection. Essentially this was a very reliable model and was easy to repair. However, you need the correct stall converter for optimal performance and acceleration.
There are not many around anymore, but if you find one, it will deliver excellent performance, just remember that is has an excessive end-play between the pump and center support which results in a distinct wobble.
This is an improvement over the TH350 and is more expensive than that model too.
The gear spread is as good as the TH350, and this model comes with stronger internal parts that deliver a reliable performance that is simple to build up or repair. The downfall of this model is its cost when compared to the TH350, this is a more costly affair, making it more expensive to build up to higher power handling levels. Also, this model comes with a very heavy cast iron drum that made more of a drag than other models. This is a good trans for heavy trucks, not for streetcar performance.
This is a two gear performance model for light vehicles, those that weigh under 1800 lbs.
This unusual 2 gear transmission is perfect for building up power to a good handling level and is very easy to build in the shop. They are reliable, and rarely anything goes wrong with them. This model comes with the best rotational drag on the market, extremely low. The downside, yup you guessed it: two gears, WTF!
If you have this, ditch the car and get a bicycle, this is not the best, it’s the worst transmission choice.
These are a dime a dozen, and you know why? Because they are shit. This will drive you around, but at what cost? There is a very wide first to second gear spread which kills the acceleration since it’s like moving from first to third in manual. There is so much wrong with this that I won’t go into detail, just say that if you need to build up a decent street rod, do not put this trans into the car or you will end up looking like a fool.
This is a classic gear that is the mirror reflection of the 700R4 which means all the cons are pros here.
This is a good transmission in later models, but you cannot use this in the older 383 engines, as such, skip it. It actually costs three times the price of a TH350, and it does not hold up to high torque engine builds without spending a fortune on it.
This is an electronically controlled trans. And is terrible, just look at the gear ratios.
Essentially this is a 700R4 with electronics, and while it has no TV cable, it does give you pump pressure control and shifting via electronics. The bottom line is that this is a shitty electronic version of the 700R4. Guess what, and I don’t mince my words.
So there you have it, the TH350 is your best option, followed by the TH400 and that’s about it. Lots to choose from, but little to enjoy.
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