It all started in October 2002, when I drove the Valiant to Bristol, Tennessee. In case you're counting, that's a lot of miles with the little 360 dutifully holding the tach needle at 3,500 rpm. The trip was fun, with the radio faintly jamming under the screaming engine.

Somewhere around Atlanta, Georgia, I decided something needed to be done. I got to thinking (Since the cotton in my ears kept things from leaking out, I had no better use for the old noggin), How would a Gear Vendors unit work in this thing? The Gear Vendors unit offers a .78 to 1 (22 percent) overdrive ratio, and that will effectively reduce fuel consumption, engine rpm, and, oh yeah, a lot of noise from that rpm. Another option with GV is the ability to split each shift. For example, you can start in First gear, then hit the GV button and have First high. You can then hit the button and shift to Second after the rpm has reached the point of shifting, and then hit the GV button. Theoretically, splitting each shift of the four-speed like this gives you eight speeds from a four-speed tranny. Rearend gearing affects the split-shift theory dramatically.

I decided to take the plunge: I called Gear Vendors and told them what I needed, and about a week later, the box-o-goodies arrived. However, as soon as I opened the box, I hit my first glitch. The intermediate housing that connects the under/overdrive unit to the tranny was for a long-tailshaft B- and E-Body transmission. Gear Vendors said they use the longer tailshaft to get more clearance between the GV unit and the floor. It sounded logical, because due to drivetrain angles, the farther back the unit, the lower it becomes. The problem is the A-Body-transmission output shaft is shorter than the B- and E-Body shaft, necessitating a longer output shaft for the tranny. Also, the output-shaft bearing in the A-Body tailshaft housing is a 307 bearing, while the B- and E-body tailshaft housing uses a 308 bearing. To fix this minor glitch, I called Passon Performance in Sugar Loaf, Pennsylvania. If you decide to put a GV unit in your A-Body and you have a long-tailshaft B- or E-body tranny lying in the corner, problem solved.

GV is aware of the situation and is exploring possible remedies. By the time this story makes it to print, they will probably have the problem solved. I'm glad Jamie at Passon Performance didn't get upset with the numerous phone calls he received from me, as this was my first time tearing a four-speed tranny apart. After the service I received from Gear Vendors and Passon Performance, I highly recommend them both.

Instead of telling you how it went, let's just do it . . .

Finish up by reinstalling the exhaust, and then take it for a spin. At 65 mph, the tach on the Valiant was holding steady at 3,500 rpm. Literally at the touch of a button, the tach dropped to a reasonable 2,400 rpm. The Gear Vendor unit may seem a little pricey to some, but the reduction in noise, engine wear from the higher rpm, and the increase in fuel mileage makes this a good move for the Valiant. Think about it-you can keep your close gear-ratio four-speed, fairly steep gears in the rear, and still drive your car. How does it hold up to abuse? We're about to find out! I was told there are several race cars with over 1,000 hp using this thing at the track with nary a problem. Try that with your factory aluminum-cased, wide-ratio four-speed.

RECEIPT **
Gear Vendors unit$2,395
Mopar lube for GV $16
Royal Purple for tranny $8
 ($6-10
per qt., depending
on vendor)
Driveshaft shortened  
and balanced $90
TOTAL $2,509
**Prices may have changed, yada, yada, yada . . .
SOURCE
Central Florida Driveshaft
8-63/-666-3874
Passon Performance
Sugarloaf
Pe
5-70/-401-8949
fourspd@ptd.net
Gear Vendors
8-00/-999-9555
gearvendors.com
Royal Purple
Lakeland Chrysler-Dodge
8-00/-455-2501
www.lakelanddodge.com
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