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Old 07-06-2010, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by amcramblermarlin
AMC enthusiasts regularly contend with newcomers who are curious to swap the engine/trans/drivetrain, thinking to 'improve' the vehicle. I'd expect the same scenario with Packard people; the engine swap would decrease the historical authenticity and cause the car to lose favor with other Packard loyals. Packard was an acclaimed engine designer and builder who made engines for many different types of machinery. The 327 Packard straight eight is famous for it's smoothness and durability. As the engine in question still runs, doesn't that create enough respect to increase it's efficiency by giving it a quality rebuild? The Ultramatic trans, not respected either by mainstream merchandisers, (they want you to buy -their- stuff, of course) was an all 'in house' Packard design. Among the very first full automatic transmissions, Packard's featured a torque converter with lock up design in 'high' for better gas mileage. (As did's Studebaker's joint effort with Detroit Gear to create their DG 200 and 250 four speed lock up automatic trans, in '50) (Packard's Ultramatic is a two speed lock up auto having a high and low range, making it a four speed) So the vintage transmission definitely has historical value, whereas Ford had no 'in house' auto trans design and resorted to purchasing 'ford-o-matics' from Borg Warner, finally obtaining the rights the build it 'in house' about '67, seventeen years later. GM's first automatic transmissions called 'hydramatic' in the early fifties did not incorporate a modern type torque converter. In the context of history, the Packard engine and trans are both valuable to the car for their historical contributions. All one need to do is consult with loyal Packard enthusiasts to find the right leads. Kanter, on the web, is a Packard parts supplier, try Packard auto club sites also.
I know it's an old post but I have to clear this up. The Packard Ultramatic is a two speed with a lockup converter, first available in 1949, and was never, no how, no why, anything near a 4 speed trans. Before the advent of the 1954 Gear Start version, the gear selector read "P N H L R", and starting with the late model 1954 Gear Start trans, you had "P N `H` L R", which starting in 1955 was the "Twin Ultramatic" gear selector. What this meant was, on one range of the "H", you had only the converter to transmit power, bypassing the gearing in the trans completely. This is what the "H" button does on the 1956 pushbutton models. On the other side of the "H", you had normal shifting, which started out in 1st gear, shifted to 2nd gear, then the converter locked up at a certain speed. This gives you a 2 speed trans that "shifts" twice. The converter will lock up no matter what side of the "H" you choose. This in no possible way translates into a "4 speed transmission".
The Packard Ultramatic is the most misunderstood transmission ever devised in the US. It's a wonderful transmission, as long as you properly understand it and treat it like it was meant to be treated and not hot rod it. And the best transmission fluid I've found for these transmissions is B&M TrickShift.

As for the engine comments, spot on. They're wonderful engines that are very durable and will give years and years of dependable service if you take care of them. If you put that 327 straight eight in front of an overdrive manual trans, I don't see why you couldn't get 20mpg on the highway if it's maintained properly.

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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 07-06-2010, 04:32 PM
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The early days of automatic transmissions are always interesting...

GM-H, when they introduced the Hydramatic into Australia's Holdens in 1961, termed them as a '4-stage' transmission, as first gear had some kind of variation once moving.
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