The 700R4 is a good
transmission for a retrofit into an older car. It has a 0.7 to 1
overdrive ratio making even 4.11 gears great on the street. The
following information is what I've found out over time and what I
encountered installing it in a 1979 Z28 Camaro.
The 700R4, 4L60, and 4L60E have the same external dimensions and case.
The 4L60E is the electronic controlled version of the 700R4 / 4L60. The
transmission has the following dimensions and gear ratios
|Case to ext Housing
||Bellhousing to mount
||4th Gear OD
I recommend to get an 1987 or later 700R4. 86' and older 700's have a
reputation for problems. If you stick with 87' and newer the tranny will
have a 30 spline input shaft and a 27 spline output shaft. This allowed
me to re-use my drive shaft yoke from the Turbo 350.
The mounting pad on the 700R4 uses the typical TH350 / manual trans
3.75 inch bolt spacing. The bolts going into the 700R4 are M10x1.5x
(length required). Metric torque converter bolts are also required to
bolt the converter to the flexplate, GM (PN 1261968).
The 700R4 uses a lockup converter. I love my lockup. The person I spoke
to at Art Carr doesn't recommend using a lockup converter, I guess
that's why I bought a TCI 3000 rpm stall lockup converter. The lockup
converter allows me to have a high stall and cruise on the highway. With
3.73 rear gear and a 28" tire 2500 rpm is about 80 m.p.h.. If I
didn't have a lockup converter I would be constantly slipping with my
converter on the highway. I don't use the lockup in any other gear than
overdrive and I disengage the lockup under full throttle. It's great you
can have your cake and eat it too, high stall for good launch, lock up
the converter on the highway and cruise home.
I control the lockup on the converter manually. The wiring diagram shown
is how I wired my car. I got the toggle switch from the junk yard out of
an older Nissan Maxima, it's lighted and says O/D on it. It's simple I
push the switch and the tranny locks the converter. In a braking
situation the brake switch disengages the converter for me. Sometimes I
forget the converter is locked up and I'll bog the motor...ooooops press
the button to disengage the converter. I've never used one of the kits
for controlling the lockup but I'm the type who likes to control when I
want the converter to lock. I hate it when a tranny keeps going in and
out of lockup. If this is not for you all of the major tranny companies
offer a lockup kit for the 700R4, B&M, TCI, Art Carr, etc.
For mounting the 700R4 the cross member had to be slid back
approximately 3". I was able to re-use my TH350 cross member and
just drill extra holes in the front sub frame. I used the orginal back bolts
as the front bolts for the 700R4 and drilled the sub frame to match the crossmember
back bolts. The drive shaft also had to be shortened by approximately 3".
I installed a B&M Megashifter which allows for 4 forward gears. The
one I put in is the unit made for the Camaro center console. The shifter
is a little hard, requires a lot of force, but it's nice. I love the
The stock 700R4 has low shift points because it typically came with a
TPI motor that runs out of steam at 4500 rpm. My motor turns on at 3500
rpm and I like to shift at 7000 rpm for first to second and 6500 rpm for
second to third. The one bad thing about the 700R4 is the big gear drop
between the 1-2 shift. So I hold first longer to put the motor in more
of a sweet spot for second. The point I'm trying to make is , buy a kit
from B&M which you can adjust the shift points. It's for the
governor and it's different weights and springs, unfortunately you have
to experiment to figure out the shift points. For mine I have to pull
the tranny out to get at the governor, Oh well.
The only other modification that I had to do is to cut off a section of
the case to clear my headers. The piece I removed is on the passenger
The 700R4 transmission in the Camaro recently blew up. With my luck the
tranny let go on the highway around midnight with no one around. I had
to walk a few miles to the nearest phone to call for help. The tranny
let go when I was accelerating up to highway speed from the on ramp. The
funny thing is that night I went to the shop to examine the drive line
because I heard a SNAP when I hit the nitrous racing someone. I was
planning on going to the track the next day and I wanted to make sure
everything was OK. Needless to say I didn't see anything that would lead
me to believe anything was going to let go. Well it did in a big way.
Check out the pictures below.
The pictures are of the aluminum input drum. This drum is a splined
piece that connects to the input shaft. As you can see from the pictures
all the splines on the drum are sheared off and this piece just
shattered. This is the weak link in the 700R4 tranny and I found it the
hard way. When this thing let go it leaves you with no gears at all. No
forward gears and/or reverse.
What's the Fix?
After calling around to all the big name transmission companies that
advertise in the magazines and anyone else I could find I came up with
nothing. They all basically said that they never heard of the input drum
failing like that and they have these transmissions behind mega
horsepower big blocks. YEAH RIGHT!!! Oh yeah, and that they
would be happy to sell me one of their 700R4's that will handle the
power I'm making.
What to do?
For lack of anything better to do I decided to do nothing, yet anyway.
I put in the 700R4 from the parts 89 Firebird Formula, completely as is
with the stock converter just so the cars is drivable. A note the stock
converter is so tight and has no slip it is weird to drive. What I'm
going to do is to send the converter back to TCI and have them do a
rebuild as required because of all the metal pieces in the transmission.
Who knows what's in the converter. Then I'm going to pull the tranny out
and rebuild it with the billet servo pump, extra clutch packs, and
kevlar band. I am also looking into having a new drum machined out of
steel but it looks like that won't happen because the quotes from the
machine shops are not cost effective. I'm also looking into the idea of
getting another 700R4 to rebuild to keep as a spare in case I blow this
Why not rebuild the blown up tranny?
I'm not rebuilding the 700R4 transmission I blew up because the output
shaft egged out the case of the transmission so I would have to machine
it and I it's cheaper to get a good used case.
Why stick with the 700R4?
The reason I'm staying with the 700R4 is I want an overdrive
transmission. I think the 700R4 is stronger than the 2004R from what
I've heard. I could be wrong on that because I've never had a 2004R
transmission. Please don't send me any hate email saying that the 2004R
is the best tranny since sliced bread. If however you know how to build
it to handle the power please let me know.
The other choice is the 4L80E and the reason I'm not running out to buy
one is because it's too much money.
||4L80E Transmission, Approx. Prices
||$250 - $500
Don't forget the cost of the new driveshaft. Will the tranny will fit
in the car? Will the tranny clear the headers? etc.
|This picture is the input
drum. It's aluminum! The piece in the middle of the drum is what
broke off and shattered. I wish I had a picture of what one should
look like but both pieces should normally be one piece.
|This shows the sheared off splines. This is what
the main input shaft slides into.
|The is the piece is part of the piston assembly
that goes inside the above drum. The picture doesn't really show it
but the piece is cracked and has a lot of metal shavings from the