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Projects Toploaders.3spd vs 4spd in a Buick

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Donuts & Peelouts, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. I have a Buick Skylark I'm putting together and it is my primary project. [​IMG]
    Bought it with no engine and trans.
    Since it takes me a while to think and plan and research being this is my first build, I have decided on and have purchased an a 430 Buick for it.
    I'm now planning what to put behind it.

    Lets just dream for a bit and not go the obvious route with the th400 or preferably a switch pitch 400. Help me understand what it would take to make this a stick car.

    Pontiac was putting Ford Toploaders in their performance cars like the the gto, 421's, and firebirds I think. It was because of their strength.

    So what's preferred for my set up a 4spd or a 3spd.

    Any tips on what years and casting numbers i should look for?. And what I should not be looking for?

    What about the bellhousing for my 430, what do I do thier aswell?

    Thanks Guys.



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  2. Black Panther
    Joined: Jan 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,276

    Black Panther
    Member
    from SoCal

    Ronnie...cool car. I always like those years Skylarks....might not be the right kind of car for this site though...but to answer your question...you could put a 3 or 4 speed in that car easily. The toploader trans you refer to is the heavy duty 3 speed in some early GTOs and full size Pontiacs....I wouldnt bother with that to be honest. The more common 4 speed is a Muncie..and they made them for years. You could find one at a swapmeet nearly every single time you go to one. Bellhousing is easy...the Pontiac/Olds/Buick bellhousing is the same. Pedals and clutch linkage are pretty easy to find too. Flywheels pop up too. The Muncie was the main transmission used in most GM performance cars from 1964 and on..find a 1966 and later Muncie..they have a 1" idler pin...the earlier one were smaller and weaker. 1966 and 1967 Muncies have case number 3885010, 1968 and 1969 are 3925660, 1970 and later are 3925661...
     
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  3. Thanks Ron, I know I'm cutting it close with my Buick on the HAMB but I had to try because of the wealth of knowledge on the site. Thanks alot Bud.. I'll keep an eye out for them in Long Beach and Pomona.. besides those, are thier any other swap meets in our area.

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  4. Forgot to quote you in my last post so I did right now just so you can see my post. Thanks again

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    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 37,415

    squirrel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Buying a used transmission at a swap meet takes a bit of expertise, to not get ripped off....and Muncies have been around over 50 years, being abused. There's a lot of junk to sort through, to find a good one.

    You can convert a TH400 to full manual shift pretty easily, then you get to have fun driving. But even a well set up fully automatic TH400 is a fun transmission, behind a big engine, in a light car.

    A friend has a 455 in his OT midsize buick, with a more modern 5 speed behind it (not a T5)
     
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  6. 51504bat
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 448

    51504bat
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The Big 3 swap meet February 23, 24, &25, 2018 at Qualcom Stadium in San Diego is worth the drive south IMO. Doesn't start until 8 am so don't get there at 6 like you would at Pomona. Free admission and parking is only 10 bucks. Starts on Friday at noon and goes through Sunday noon. You can walk it in a day if you hurry.
    www.big3partsexchange.com
     
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  7. Are you taking the nv3500?
    Going with a hurst/B&M shifter does sound fun too, that's a better option for me..

    Muncie wise, I've noticed the gs 455 buick came with a close ratio muncie 4speed.. but been told on the buick forum that the torquey engine would prefer a wide ratio..confused...



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  8. Appreciate that

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  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 37,415

    squirrel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    M22 was used behind the higher power engines. It's close ratio. The difference between close and wide ratio M21 vs M20 isn't that much, I think it's 2.54 vs 2.21 but you can google it to be sure.

    My friend's car has a TKO or something, not a truck transmission.

    Wide ratio gives you an easier time getting going. Close ratio reduces the RPM drop when you shift, which helps keep the engine in it's peak power band, and is helpful to go a little quicker when you're racing.

    A 430 has a lot of torque, combine that with a nice rear gear like a 4.11, and a close ratio is a blast to drive. Well...right up until you take a long trip on the freeway....
     
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  10. Lol right up till the freeway huh lol. Ive been thier done that, thanks Squirrel

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  11. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 8,446

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Unless your ARE going racing, with the torque of that Buick, a rear end ratio in the lower 3's will still be plenty 'spirited' and cruise the freeway at reasonable rpm too.

    That Skylark is no newer than a '65 model so should be acceptable on the HAMB.

    Ray
     
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  12. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 37,415

    squirrel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Yup! Just keep in mind, that the milder the rear end gears, the less fun a close ratio transmission will be.
     
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  13. Black Panther
    Joined: Jan 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,276

    Black Panther
    Member
    from SoCal

    Ronnie...with the torque of that big block...like others have said, a near 3.0 gear and a wide ratio Muncie is perfect. Youll get to row the gears...and it won't kill you on the freeway. Don't know about the GS 455 using an M-21 (close ratio). That would mean the car came with 3.55 or lower gears. Don't think Buicks were commonly using low gears like early Chevy cars like Camaro or Corvettes for example. They didnt need low gears...they had torque, and were not a high rpm engine. Ive had several 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sports...and those came with 3.42 gears...I always thought that was absurd. Those cars were bought by more affluent people and they tended to drive them all the time...on the highway..etc...thats why those motors got used up quick. The good news is the wide ratio Muncie is by far the most common....and should be cheaper. I've found Muncies at Long Beach and Pomona for as little as $100..going rate is about $400-$500. Just saw a mint/rebuilt looking Muncie at the Pomona Swap meet yesterday with a like new Hurst shifter and a 621 11" Chevy bellhousing for $700 obo. If you could get that for $600 for example...sell off the 621 bellhousing and you'd be into the trans and shifter for about $450..
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  14. Black Panther
    Joined: Jan 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,276

    Black Panther
    Member
    from SoCal

    Ronnie..dont forget craigslist...there is a Muncie now down San Diego way for $350...they pop up. As far as swaps...there are further ones...Turlock...and San Diego Big 3 as mentioned..since the numbers matching bs is on the decline, many guys are pulling a perfectly good Muncie to put in a 5 or 6 speed...it happens all the time. Keep an eye on Craigslist..Echo might school you on how to tell if the trans is good or not...or we can here...just takes a lot of thumb typing...lol.
     
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  15. II FUNNY
    Joined: Jul 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,785

    II FUNNY
    Member

    Make sure you research and do the oiling modifications that a Buick needs to survive. I learned the hard way on a 1970 455. They still had the small oil passages and I ended up melting the cam bearings out of the engine. When I took it apart the bearings looked like melted mozzarella cheese hanging out of the journals. I had a stock bore 455 with later model low compression pistons, stock non stage heads with some mild port work an edelbrock B4B manifold, poston GS 118 cam and(now out of business) headers and a rebuilt 750cfm quadrajet. I had a boring th350(that didn’t like the 455) and a twelve bolt with 3.55:1 gears. It ran 12.50’s at 107mph with 26” tall M&H street legal tires through the mufflers. It was fun while it lasted.


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  16. Thanks Ray. I'll keep that in mind

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  17. The 65 Riviera with the clamshell hideaways is one of the coolest cars in my opinion, I was going to get a 64 but i didn't come through. But I think it's good because I would of been kicking myself in the but because it wasent a 65. Seen a 65 about a year ago go for 1,000 on craiglist but I had my Skylark already, no sweat..

    Makes sense how the engines were being overworked by the gear ratio, thanks for linking those together for me..
    It seems all roads lead back to Muncie, Indiana lol. Even hear as I'm asking for toploader info. I was at Echo' s today welding on the chop he did. He's into automatics. Thanks for the info!!

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  18. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,479

    31Apickup
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Pedal assembly's, typical GM A-body of the same era, Chevelles, LeMans.

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  19. 107mph sounds fun to me. Cool thing is that my 430 came with the b4b intake. No carb though, I was told to look for a 850 QUADRAJET but I see you were doing good with the 750. Did you have any issues putting the QUADRAJET on the b4b? Did it fit right up or did you use a spacer?..
    I downloaded the oil modification written by Jim Wiese and your right I might aswell do it now, now that the Engine is out and on my stand.

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  20. Thanks 31Apickup. Appreciate it.

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  21. Thanks for the logic behind the math Bud.

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  22. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 722

    BigDogSS
    Member
    from SoCal

    Cool car, Ronnie. Yes, definately a wide-ratio Muncie transmission. Just to be clear:
    Model - Type - Ratios 1, 2, 3, 4
    M20 - Wide ratio - 2.52, 1.88, 1.46, 1.00
    M21 - Close ratio - 2.20, 1.64, 1.28, 1.00
    M22 - HD Close ratio - 2.20, 1.64, 1.28, 1.00

    The GM A-body (Chevelle, Skylark, Cutlass, GTO) is the EASIEST car to convert to a manual transmission as far as parts availability.
     
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  23. Dennis what's up! Thanks for liking the Buick and the ratios, I finally understand rear gearing, thanks for help big Bro.

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  24. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 722

    BigDogSS
    Member
    from SoCal

    Hi Ronnie,
    You're welcome! Now expand the rear-gear understanding to the transmission gearing. See the 2.52 1st gear ratio for the M20? That lower 1st gear makes it easier to get the car (especially a medium-to-big car) rolling from a dead stop. Much lower than the M21 or M22's 2.20 1st gear.
    Big Buick torque + M20 + 3.00 gear is a great combo, IMO. No need for an overdrive transmission.
     
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  25. Kerrynzl
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 1,338

    Kerrynzl
    Member

    Use a late 70's Borg Warner Super T10. [ It is a direct bolt in swap for a Muncie]

    If you're still got the Auto trans rear end in it , then go for a wide ratio .

    from 79-81 they had a wide ratio 2.88 1st, 1.74 2nd, 1.33 3rd 1.00 4th
    and 80-82 they had a wider ratio 3.44 1st, 2.28 2nd, 1.46 3rd 1.00 4th

    The auto ratio rear end will make it a great interstate cruiser. and the wider lower gears will wake it up around town.
    A Muncie Hurst shifter bolts onto a Super T10
     
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  26. II FUNNY
    Joined: Jul 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,785

    II FUNNY
    Member

    The quadrajet bolts direct. I used one of those thick insulator gaskets. The 750 came with the 455, so I just rebuilt and rebushed the throttle shafts. I had picked up an 850, but the motor didn’t last long enough to try it out.
     
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  27. II FUNNY
    Joined: Jul 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,785

    II FUNNY
    Member

    Probably should have mentioned that this was in a 65 Skylark. I’ll post pics when I get home.


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  28. II FUNNY
    Joined: Jul 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,785

    II FUNNY
    Member

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I was wrong. The 12.50’s @ 107 were with the BBC that I ran after the Buick engine ate itself.
     
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  29. Not sure what an 850 Q-jet is. Could someone enlighten me?
     

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