When Chrysler's 727 TorqueFlite resides in the tunnel under your machine, performance is automatic-or is it? After all, there are many modifications that can be made to a 727 to improve shift quality. The first step is a shift improver kit, and they're nothing new. In fact, there can be a tremendous difference in shift quality even between various factory 727s, depending upon the application. Hey, it doesn't take a Super Stock racer to discern the difference in the way a Hemi 'Flite bangs through the gears compared to a 727 in a Chrysler Newport; the shift quality is vastly different. While that Newport will glide through the gears almost seamlessly, an OE performance 727 will rip through the gears with precision bordering on brutal.

Today, a 727 for a performance application strives to capture the shift quality of the performance TorqueFlites of yesterday, or exceed it. We've covered the aforementioned shift kits in several articles over the years. Take your Newport tranny, add a shift kit, and if it does its job, which it should, that lazy transmission will take on a new personality. The next question becomes, "Will it last?" Now we're getting into questions of durability. Fortunately, most of the components that made the best TorqueFlites great can be incorporated into a weaker sibling 727 to beef it up. Without a doubt, there are components available to beef up the 727 to a far greater level than any OE tranny.

As we saw in Mopar Muscle last June ("Into the Slush Box," p. 58), beefing up a TorqueFlite requires extensive disassembly, if not a full rebuild with HD components. More and better clutches in roomier drums, ridged bands, locked down overrunning clutches (sprag), H/D planetaries, earlier kickdown servos, etc. Such a rebuild may not be too far in the offing if a powerful engine is pressing against that shift-kitted Newport tranny.

OK, shift quality and durability are both characteristics we seek to improve, but is that all? Another aspect of TorqueFlite performance worthy of consideration is shift timing. If you're making the serious move to a full manual valvebody, then shift timing is literally in your hands. However, if automatic function is not to be sacrificed, then shift timing becomes a significant element in how well the transmission performs in a performance setting.

On the most basic level, a component of shift timing is the operational line pressure of the transmission. Increase this line pressure, and the shift speed will also increase. Most shift kits, as part of their modification program, instruct the TorqueFlite tuner to increase the line pressure by cranking up the line pressure adjustment screw on the valvebody. This increases the tension on the regulator valve spring, in turn increasing the pressure, which firms up the shifts and raises the shift point. Shift timing, however, is only mildly affected by this mod; typically, OE trannys will still shift in the mid to upper 4,000 rpm range. The adjuster only gives so much latitude before the screw will literally run out of a safe level of engagement. Fortunately, there are other components that affect shift timing more directly than the line pressure. Primarily, this is the jurisdiction of the governor.

Far removed from the vicinity of the valvebody and making its home outside the main transmission case, in the extension housing, is the governor assembly. Operating within a housing on the output shaft, the governor is a hydraulic control valve that transmits regulated pressure to the valvebody directing the shift points. The governor assembly consists of a hydraulic control valve linked by a shaft to the governor weight assembly, made up of an inner and outer weight and spring. Here is the heart of shift timing in automatic mode.