Saginaw Four Speeds - Team Camaro Tech
Transmission & Driveline Transmissions and Differentials

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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 08, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Jim
 
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Question Saginaw Four Speeds

What is it about the Saginaw four speed that makes it a weak transmission? From what I have gathered reading about them here (full disclosure - I have no experience with them), they are weak and not very durable. I know the highest horsepower Camaro they were installed in was the L30/M20 - could they handle the power level of the L30, or was it marginal in that application? Can one handle the power from a stock L30 driven on the street? Is there anything that can be done to strengthen them? More curious than anything else. Thanks!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 08, 07:37 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I had a Saginaw 4spd with a built 350 when I first bought my 69'. It was a bit sloppy from age, but it worked just fine. After I installed my TKO I sold it...easily. One guy almost drove to ATL from TN, lol. But a local guy ended up buying it.

From what I had heard/read (and I had no experience with them at all), a Saginaw 4spd was really a Saginaw 3spd with very slight modification, and not necessarily a good one. And it was phrased that way as a rap against the the 4spd. That's all I know.

Learning & Relearning about the cars I grew up with.
69' - Built 350, 750 Holley, Elgin E920P Cam, 283 PP Heads, Long Comp Headers, MSD, TKO-600, 12 Bolt Posi 3.73, Hotchkis Rear, Eibach Front w/Hotchkis Sway, SPC UCAs, 3rd Gen PS, AR TTII's. Still working on it.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 08, 07:55 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

The Saginaw is heavy in weight, due to the case being made of cast iron.
The ratio spread is alittle wide.
I had no problems with one OE installed in a '68 327, seemed to handle those 4K rpm clutch dumps I gave it.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 08, 08:03 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I have one in the '67, 300hp there about's. I've beat on it a bit, some nice burn outs, etc. I wouldn't go out and buy one but if you have one use it.

Robert
'69 355ci 10:1, 64cc Edelbrocks, Comp Mag 280H, Performer RPM, 700r4 (2000 stall), 3.55 posi A/C PS PDB Hotchkis
'67 369ci 10.3:1, 64cc Edelbrocks, Voodoo 276/284, Performer RPM, Holley 650DP ...T56 Magnum, 3.73 Moser 12 bolt
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 08, 10:20 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

the gear ratio's are actually good, for a performance app., but the deep first lowers the torque rating( cant get around that). I think th biggest part of the bad rap they get is the shifter that comes from gm on them.....it is shiit!!!! it is probably responsible for more broken transmissions than the torque rating. that shifter is prone to hang up between 2 gears, or not fully engage the gear - resultig in carnage!!!! jmo

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 08, 05:06 AM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I had one that I installed in a 72 Camaro that had a freshly built 355 SB with about 375 HP and I was running a 4.11 12 bolt. I would launch that thing and bring a front tire off the ground slightly. never gave me problems. And to hoot I was 19 and stupid so it took a lot of punishment.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 08, 07:47 AM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

They take a lot more abuse than people give them credit for. I've had one for many years and beat on it pretty hard from time to time. It's a 2.54 first gear 4-speed though. The 3.50 first gear trannys would probably come apart if the car hooked up hard, due to the torque multiplication of the super low first gear. The low first gear is nice on the street though. Bottom line is, the 2.54 first gear ones will take more abuse.

Here's how to identify which one you have by looking at the input shaft. They have grooves, or lines, that run around the shaft at 90 degrees to the splines.

http://www.racersguide.com/trans_ratios.html

And yeah, they're heavy. Better eat your Wheaties before you try to bench press one and stab it in.

Mark

68 327 4-speed 3.42 posi and a sunroof
best so far... 13.25 at 106mph

78 Firebird 350/T350 3.23 posi
65 Mustang convert. 6 cyl. 3-speed
66 Mustang coupe 6 cyl. auto
80 Chevy C10 406 4-speed
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 08, 04:20 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

Ditto Mark!

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 08, 09:24 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

My uncle has around a 390hp 350 with a saginaw and he beats the hell out of it and it still keeps ticking.

GM service technician.

25 years old. I only drive chevys. Everything else and i do mean everything can rust in piece.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 08, 09:41 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I blew one, make that three, with a 283.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 29th, 08, 12:03 AM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I had one in my 67 L30/M20. I blew reverse out of it and bought a Muncie. Mine and a couple of others I drove didn't shift quick that well at all. They were balky shifting. Driving normally, they were fine. I was glad when mine blew and I had a good excuse to buy the Muncie. My dad wouldn't have let me just swap for a faster shifting trans. They are strong enough for a 327, but shifting them is something else. When I did get it to shift fast, with great effort, it made a grinding noise like I was tearing it up, so I tended to make easy shifts most of the time.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old Feb 29th, 08, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

Thanks for all the input!
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 08, 12:56 AM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

I think because Chevy never put them in high performance Camaros they wer pretty much written off. The heavier case also made them less attractive to racers. The wide ratios in some probably helped make low horsepower cars more driveable, like the L-6. I guess I will install mine and see what happens. It does have a Hurst shifter on it. Wish me luck!
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 08, 11:56 AM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

What are the visual cues that define the Saginaw from the Muncie?

Garnet Van Nuys '69, 350/4 spd, deluxe int, endura, owned since 1979 - my first car
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 08, 12:04 PM
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Re: Saginaw Four Speeds

Saginaws have a cast iron case and the reverse lever is on the inspection cover. Muncies have an aluminum case and the reverse lever is on the tailshaft portion of the case.

http://www.nastyz28.com/chevy-manual...tification.php

Mark

68 327 4-speed 3.42 posi and a sunroof
best so far... 13.25 at 106mph

78 Firebird 350/T350 3.23 posi
65 Mustang convert. 6 cyl. 3-speed
66 Mustang coupe 6 cyl. auto
80 Chevy C10 406 4-speed
http://www.camaros.net/forums/members/3230-mbrekke.html

Last edited by mbrekke; Jul 30th, 08 at 12:17 PM.
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