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Hot Rod A - 4 Speed or 5 Speed?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tommy R, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R

    Hey y'all,

    I have a question and would like some input. I'm trying to decide if i want to run a 4 speed or 5 speed in my project car. The car in question will be a Model A on Deuce rails. The power will initially be from a mild small block Chevy with ~300 hp (more eventually). The car will see a fair share of time on the highway (road trips), but I will also run it at the drag strip on slicks from time to time. I currently have a 9" axle and a choice of 3.50 or 4.11 gears.

    With a 4 speed I could run the 3.50 gear and with a 7.50-16 tire I would spin about 2700 rpm at 70 mph. Not bad. I have a 4 speed with a 3.11 first gear now which I think would be a good combo, but I'm open to suggestions.

    With the 5 speed (T-5) I could run the 4.11 gear and see 2400 rpm at 70 mph. A little better, but I would also have one heck of a 1st gear. In fact, would first gear become damn near useless? I bet it'd be wicked with slicks, though! :D

    I already have the 4 speed (a Saginaw) so I'm tempted to go that route, but before I make up my mind I'd like to hear from y'all. Do you wish you had O/D in your 4 speed car? Was the effort to modify an S10 T-5 not worth it?
  2. if you have the 4 speed put it in!
  3. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 52,016


    5 speeds suck. Toyotas have them.
  4. fiveohnick2932
    Joined: Mar 29, 2006
    Posts: 918

    from Napa, Ca.

    5 speed! Thats what Im using in my A

  5. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,562

    Ned Ludd

    Some Toyotas have some of the nicest mid-power 5-speeds in them. Think of Toyota pick-ups, minibuses, Cressidas, and Supras as overdone packaging for W5*-series gearboxes ...

    Good for about 350bhp, maybe? The pick-up version usually has a 3.287:1 first and a 0.853:1 fifth.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 52,016


    Two too many gears. Hot rods really only need 3, but 4 speeds are fun to shift. 5 speeds are for grammas to get good mileage.
  7. I dig 4-speeds....I used to really dig making crash boxes out of them..
  8. AnimalAin
    Joined: Jul 20, 2002
    Posts: 3,417


    If you are willing to accept the compromises, go with the four speed. If you are a believer in having your cake and eating it, too, go for the T5. The aftermarket Ford gearsets are the best (2.97 low gear) to go with the 4.11 rear. Tall rear tire and OD, you will be a rockstar at cruise.
  9. I've got a 3.5:1 gear behind my four speed. I like it fine, about 3 grand @ 70mph, thats a high as I turn the engine.

    If you have the four speed already, use it and save some$$$$$$$$
  10. pro85fiero
    Joined: Nov 4, 2010
    Posts: 266


    If you are looking for traditional then you have to go with a 4 speed. However if you want gas mileage and less wear & tear then you've got to have a 5 speed. UNLESS, you do what a friend of mine did on his '60 Impala. He's running an old school GM 4 speed that he attached an old school, cable operated, overdrive unit behind it. Now he's got bullit proof and gas mileage all at the pull of a knob and he loves it. Just something to think about!
    F.Y.I. This friend is also a H.A.M.B. member. PM me and I'll give you his info and you can talk to him about it.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  11. Armstrong
    Joined: Apr 17, 2004
    Posts: 371


    I'm running an old three speed with overdrive in my A coupe behind a nailhead with 3.89s in the 9in rear. I haven't driven it yet,but I'll bet it's going to be fun!
  12. buzzard
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 4,335

    Alliance Member

    I had that granny gear Saginaw and 3.50 gears in my coupe for a while and it was a blast to drive. The only reason I changed was I got a killer deal on a Muncie, several years back.
  13. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,957

    gas pumper

    I'd run the Sag with the higher rear if I already had the stuff.

    I got a T-5 in my T with 4.11's. First is just for parking lots or starting on a hill. I start in second at the drags. It's really like a 3 speed with OD. 50 mph on the highway, drop it in overdrive and go effortlessly.
  14. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,727


    I ran a 6 speed with a 3:27 first and a .76 sixth with a 3:42 rear end.
  15. turdytoo
    Joined: May 14, 2007
    Posts: 1,569


    My 283 powered channelled 5w had 3.50's and a close ratio (2.20) 4 speed. It was a ball to drive but felt like it was a shade high in low and a shade low in high. My avatar has a stouter motor, 3.70's and a T-5. Don't like the 4.03 low and 5th is useless below 65. Rework is in the planning stages.
  16. Mopar 4 speed overdrive,,,,1st gear is 3.09,,and 4th is .71 .
    You could really blast for 3 gears and then when you get to speed,,drop it on down into 4th .
    Just don't try to put a lot of power through the 4th gear though,,it wasn't built to handle that .

  17. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R

    You're running a SBC, aren't you? Was first gear very usable with that granny? No regrets? :) Really dig your car, by the way. Spent a good bit of time checking it out a the Revolution.

    That's part of my concern. So first gear is way too short, huh? If so, I'm beginning to think the 4 speed may be okay with a tall enough rear gear.

    And that's my concern with a close ratio 4 speed. :) So what changes are you planning now?
  18. chopt top kid
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 959

    chopt top kid

    Unless you're going with a 2.95 gear set in a t5, I'd go with the 4-speed. I don't think that the t5 with the 4.03 or the 3.76 gearset would be worth the effort...
  19. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,716


    If you're going to do your fair share of highway miles, I'd opt for the 5 speed. Considering rpm and gas milage... good luck with the decision making.
  20. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,893


    I am running a 6-speed in mine. Can't ever have too many gears. I have drag strip and flying mile gears, in the same transmission.
  21. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,128


    While I know that 4 speeds are traditional (technically 3 speeds are more traditional, but that’s another story), I would say run the 5 speed. You’re saying that you plan on driving the car quite a bit, so logically you’d want an overdrive for better mileage. However, if you already have the 4 speed, then you might as well run that in an effort to save money. In the end, what does it matter what a bunch of guys on a message board say? After all, you’re the one who will be driving it not us, so ultimately, you must be happy with your decisions.
  22. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R

    Very true, but I'm just seeking input from others who've had to make a similar decision. It may give me some ideas or concerns I hadn't thought of. I appreciate everyone's input and I'll consider it all before I ultimately make up my mind. Honestly, right now I don't know which way I want to go....
  23. amadeus
    Joined: Dec 27, 2006
    Posts: 321


    Im running a Super T-10 on my Model A. w 3.55 gears. gets good MPG and is lots of Fun. only problem is the shifter location;I had to make a special handle that curves and centers on the tranny.Im not sure how the 5spd handle position will work for your application.Besides,fabricating the pedal linkage was a total breeze(read cheap) for the 4spd. If you have the Saginaw use some $$.
  24. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,128


    My experience has been like this: an old Muncie 4 speed in a Deuce was more fun than I could imagine, just an absolute blast. The T-5 was not as much fun, but the distance covered between gas stops did counter act that, granted not completely but some.
  25. turdytoo
    Joined: May 14, 2007
    Posts: 1,569


    And that's my concern with a close ratio 4 speed. :) So what changes are you planning now?[/QUOTE] 2.95 first gear T-5.
  26. dsiddons
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,503

    from Indiana

    Why don't you just put a automatic behind it like all the other pussys? Put a Muncie behind it and have some fun.
  27. retiredfireguy
    Joined: Oct 18, 2009
    Posts: 240


    I have an '07 Dodge 1/2 ton shorty with the 4.7 V8, manual 6-speed, and 3.92 posi rear. That is one great little trans. Don't know how stout it is, or how it would hold up behind a bigger engine, but I love it! Low is a normal (not granny) gear. Fifth is high gear, and sixth is the only OD gear. That makes it a very close-ratio trans, and gives me a gear for every occasion. The only thing that could make it better would be if it were the same one they put in the SRT-10. Then I could get a Hurst shifter for it. Anyway, it really allows me to make the most of that little V8.
  28. Fixxxr
    Joined: Dec 5, 2009
    Posts: 157

    from Sk, Canada

    You talk about possibly bumping your horsepower up in the future. Not sure what modifications would be needed to the stock S10 T- 5, but from what I've heard they don't handle that much power. That being said, I'm not all that familiar with the Saginaw. Whatever you choose, I would over build it now so you don't have to worry about it failing in the future if you upgrade your motor.
  29. Saginaw and add a OD unit to it latter if you feel the need.

    I can't see not having an OD if your actually gonna drive it.
    I'd love to have a Kustom that I could go out of town and not have to float a loan.
    Sure wish I had put a AOD in the Thunderbird, I certainly spent enough on the COM to.
  30. oldpaint
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 357


    It all depends on how you are going to use the car, but if you are going to run down the interstate you will love the T5. I'm old and broke alot of parts when I was younger. I still like to go fast, but I don't need to here the engine scream a 75mph.
    I have a friend with 600hp, 4:11 gears, and a 4 speed he would blow my doors off in the 1/4 mile, but if were 20 miles from home I'll beat him everytime.
    Overdrive is good!

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