Only slow cars need excuses.

The half-price Lentech Diaries...

(Sadly, does not contain that hot chick or Julie Andrews)

Well, my motor is approaching the state of "done" - and now it's pretty much saving up for brains (hey - don't laugh), a roller cam (which also might be half price - more on that later), 4 rebuilt 60/63 T3s, and the trans I wanted since I was 5 (okay, 20): a Lentech AOD. One small problem - the model with all the bells/whistles I have picked out is close to $4500 with a converter. Yikes. Although this is still cheaper than a (inferior) 1000+ HP 727 and a GV under/overdrive, coming up with $4500 all at once is a bit tough, at least for me.

But first: why is the 727/GV inferior? Well, can you have a fully automatic 1000HP 727? Not really. Can you have a 1000HP 727 with engine braking (kickdown)? No. Can you have a *transbrake* along with full auto operation and engine braking? Hell no. Can it be done with the AOD? Yes, thanks to Lentech's extreme valevbody research. Add to that, the fact that the GV's OD ratio is 0.78:1, whereas the AOD's is 0.67:1 (that's huge). We're talking the ultimate street/strip trans here!

So, being the (selective) deal-driven maven, I started figuring out how to get an AOD in my car for less.

First, the biggest problem is that the AOD doesn't bolt to the back of a B/RB. how does Lentech offer the option? A quick call to JW bellhousings gave me the answer. The adapter bellhousing (which is actually a JW Chrysler-to-Powerglide that Lentech modifies) is precisely machined by Lentech to get all aspects of alignment squared away, and is bolted onto the front pump using longer bolts after the existing bellhousing is sawed off.

Okay, now it bolts to the motor - how about the converter/starter gear? Lentech also makes an adapter plate so the Chrysler flexplate and a starter gear will bolt to the converter. There may be other sources on this / other ways of doing this....I'm still checking, but will have a really good idea of what route to take when I have the trans and motor mated (on a stand). For reference, the Ford converter just has 4 bolt mount pads at the front, which lends itself much better to adapting than, say, a Chrysler starter gear/converter integral type deal.

How about the trans mount? It's different alright, so some fabrication will be required. Literally, the official Ford mount is a pipe, crushed at the ends with bolt holes through them, and another one near the center, so I'm not that scared. Plans so far are to make a bolt-in adapter that will work with the stock crossmember. Driveshaft angle is the big thing to pay attention to, so it will likely be some sort of threaded pedestal (adjustable) a la the threaded adjustable pinion snubber (some company offers) to get it spot on again.

After that it's linkages, lines, and a custom driveshaft. The custom driveshaft can be made with a stock output yoke if you aren't going nuts, but the hot-rod one to get is the Mark Williams one, which uses the beefy 1350 U joints. Linkage wise: Lokar catalog, here I come! The stock rube goldberg/jungle gym can probably be made to work with minor creativity, but I've wanted to toss that since I first saw it. Update: after a (failed - dammit!) AOD swap in my daily driver, I can say the kickdown and shift linkages are on the driver's side and concentric, like the 727's. The dipstick hole is on the passenger side (like the 727's). The cooler lines are on the opposite side, but cmon, the stupid stock (and likely rotted/fitting-stripped/dinged/crunched/bent; pick any 2) lines would probably work better on the inside of a dumpster. NAPA/Autozone steel tube + fittings + a cutter and a flaring tool, and you're in biz if you're cheap and have time. -6 AN pushlock or braided SS, if you want to be Johnny cool guy (and leave adaptability for cooler placement later on if you wish).

Power handling? Don't get me wrong, Lentech makes a fantastic product, but all the moving parts are (mostly) beefed up/reinforced stock stuff with a smattering of (some) custom made replacement parts. I probably shouldn't give away what they are or who makes the custom stuff (since I am really not interested in killing Lentech's business in any way), but I'll say it's a company in my backyard! One that I also happen to have an "in" at. There's another place in my backyard which is famous nationwide called TSI, and they offer about the same hot-rod internal upgrades as Lentech without the huge price tag. The thing you really pay Lentech for is their valvebody R&D, and they've got that down to a science. They also have a great warranty program (who else will make you a trans, let you beat the snot out of it for a year, and rebuild it free with no questions asked?). If you can afford it and want no jerking around, giving Len a call is your best bet - he'll set you up.

So I sound like a cheerleader for this idea, yes? To be as objective as possible, some areas where the GV-727 "beats" the AOD are:

  • You get to keep your car "all mopar." But, too bad your car stopped being "all mopar" the day you put an Accel coil on it, or heck, for that matter, a gear vendors!

  • You get the gear splitting "bonus." To me, this is dumb - if your motor has a power band wider than 500RPM, splitting gears is not going to matter that much.

    True, skeptics, it's not under my car yet. Heck, I don't even have a junkyard AOD to hack on for R&D. On the other hand, there is one behind Aaron's Chevy, and it's worked beautifully thus far, so......there you have it! All my homework as of late. AOD's in everything! Anyone want to beat me to it?