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Technical Tell me about this 3 speed toploader...

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Sutton Speed, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. Sutton Speed
    Joined: Jul 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,084

    Sutton Speed
    Member

    Can anyone tell me about this 3 speed toploader? What did they come in? Any good? Worth anything? Working on a deal for a Caddilac 331 motor and it includes an adapter and this trans. Thanks guys!

    IMG_1764.JPG

    IMG_1763.JPG
     
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  2. savannahDan
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 131

    savannahDan
    Member

    looks like the ones ford used in the mid-late 60's in mustangs etc. Nothing special about it, decent trans though.
     
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  3. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,459

    seb fontana
    Member
    from ct

    Mid 60's Ford..They came in a couple different ratios..Big and small block; had moderate strength..
     
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  4. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,098

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    GM used this Ford design as well for high horse power applications in Pontiac and possibly even Chevy.
    The bottom line is the 3.03 top loader is likely the best 3 speed manual ever made.

    As good as they are, they can be found very cheap.
     
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  5. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,495

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Couldn't a guy put a better four speed in its place on the same adapter?
     
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  6. El Caballo
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 5,894

    El Caballo
    Member

    The 3.03 Toploader is a great transmission, I had one in an A-code 289 Mustang and it can take a beating. The 2.77 is for six cylinder cars.
    3sp.png
     
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  7. That's a small-block 3-speed out of a early Mustang (you can tell by the long pilot bearing shaft). Good trans, not as strong as the big-block version, but behind a moderate-size motor will do fine...
     
  8. Sutton Speed
    Joined: Jul 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,084

    Sutton Speed
    Member

    Awesome... Thanks for the info guys!
     
  9. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 4,823

    Marty Strode
    Member

    Two good things about that trans is, you can install a Jeep T-150 shift top, and they are synchro in first gear. After removing the shift forks, we milled down the bosses on the side of the case for clearance, and installed cup type soft plugs in the holes. IMG_0672.JPG
     
  10. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,247

    oj
    Member

    That just blows me away, how on earth did you ever come up with that one Marty?
     
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  11. Sutton Speed
    Joined: Jul 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,084

    Sutton Speed
    Member

    I remember seeing someone do this with a 4 speed toploader before. Is anyone reproducing those shift tops or are they relatively easy to come by? Thanks so much for the input.
     
  12. MrMike
    Joined: May 21, 2010
    Posts: 137

    MrMike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Jeep shifter top bolts right on.
     
  13. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 883

    51box
    Member
    from MA

    These top loaders are one of the strongest factory offered transmissions. I also did a jeep shifter but on a Dearborn trans. IMG_1332.JPG
     
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  14. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 883

    51box
    Member
    from MA

    Search eBay & c-list for jeep T-150 that is the transmission these shift towers came on.
     
  15. There was an article on the swap back in the 80's, I think Frank Oddo wrote, and was followed up with the four speed top loader, and yes the shifter is hard to come by as the Jeep guys feel they are necessary to drive their jeeps up and down mountains,,,,,
     
  16. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 4,823

    Marty Strode
    Member

    The 3 speed tops can be found at a reasonable price, the 4 speed units are rare and spendy. On bell housings such as this Offenhauser adapter to a Red Ram Dodge to fit the 49-64 Ford transmission, I usually remove the outside upper set of holes. Ford was smart to include both bolt patterns to the later transmissions, to fit a wide range of applications. And yes, Frank Oddo did write that article. P1010044.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  17. The 4 speed shifter version is called a T-170, found in mid-80s Jeeps.
    I have the 3 speed version, and utilized the Ford pickup tail shaft for a very compact, husky unit at 1/4 the cost
    of the 4 speed.
     
  18. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,055

    deucemac
    Member

    I first noticed the Jeep top cover when I worked as mechanic for the Border Patrol. We had an entire fleet of Cherokees from the factory equipped with Ford 303 transmissions and a top shifter instead of the Ford side rail shift mechanism. When it came time to build my roadster I wanted a full syncro 3 speed Ford Trans with overdrive that I could convert to the Jeep top cover so I could have the early look in the cockpit but modern transmission. It turns our that Ford never made a full syncro 3 speed with an overdrive. However, AMC used the Ford trans in more than Jeep. From '75-'77, the ford 3 speed was offered with an overdrive in Pacers, Hornets, and Gremlins. Since Ford had no overdrive for it, AMC went to Laycock in England and they built a type J unit to fit. Laycock went belly up and Gearvendors bought them out. So, now I have a full syncro 3 speed with electric overdrive that looks old time, shifts great and has overdrive at the flick of a switch. And, all of it is strong enough to live happily behind my hemi motor. Almost nervana!
     
  19. Actually, Ford did build a full-sync 3 speed with OD. In the late 70s into the 80s Ford offered a re-tasked toploader four speed with third gear converted to OD as a stop-gap. Looks just like the four speed, except it has a bulge on the passenger side of the case to clear the OD gear. A later version had internal linkage and an aluminum case (the SROD), found in light-duty applications. A common issue with both was neither would tolerate more than moderate loading in OD as that would quickly wear out the cluster gear shaft/bearings.
     
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  20. jdownunder
    Joined: Aug 21, 2007
    Posts: 334

    jdownunder
    Member

    Great thread thanks guys


    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
     
  21. RoddyB34
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 541

    RoddyB34
    Member

    image.jpg My 3 speed has the Jeep shifter and I converted it to go closed drive to a model A torque tube ,,shortened the output shaft ,made a support adaptor for the clamshell ,,,a good transmission ,,
     
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  22. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,098

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Believe it or not.....but it is possible to use a 1939 to 1952 car and F-1 3 speed shift top. It requires a homemade adapter plate but it has been done and it works. There is an old thread about it. So that is one more check for the 3.03's versatility.

    63-64 F Series 3.03s came factory behind Y blocks and 223s. These have the 1939 sized input spline but no tail mount.
     
  23. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,975

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    No, the earlier Ford transmission (with the straight bottom side cover) is a completely different animal with more in common with the pre-war and immediate post-war boxes. And, they are not very strong.
     
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  24. 31pickemup
    Joined: Apr 9, 2006
    Posts: 1,267

    31pickemup
    Member

    Can the torque tube adapter be done to the 4-speed units as well? And if so who sells them?
     
  25. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,000

    fiftyv8
    Member
    from CO & WA

    Great thread and nice to see some informative pic's.
    Was there a 3 speed Top Loader with an O/D setup as well???
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  26. deadbeat
    Joined: May 3, 2006
    Posts: 520

    deadbeat
    Member

    I did the same only I used a early Ford shifter to sit on top. Cut off the shift forks and relocated them to suit the later 3 speed gear sack. Made a spacer plate between gearbox and the shifter. Pluged up the holes with small frost plugs. Works fine but it leaks oil through the base plate. Made need a breather
     
  27. The small version has a tag on the side RAN letters. The heaver tougher version has RAT on the tag. You can find the heavy trans in those FE powered pickup trucks. The one pictured is the mustang version. And yes the gear set is the same as the jeeps.
     

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