In the comment threads over the past week, the pairing of Toyota’s VVTL-i 1.8 with its four-speed auto came up, along with Honda’s domestic market twin-cam VTEC-plus-automatic offerings. Why sell such combinations, when it’s a recipe for slow progress? Well, when there’s enough demand, you do it anyway.
With sales over 600,000, it didn’t take long for Ford to cobble together an automatic/”high-po” V8 powertrain to go into its Mustang for 1966. With 289 cubic-inches of displacement, however, it’s unlikely a shortage of torque was the issue; more likely, Ford needed to beef up its Cruise-O-Matic to handle the shifts at the higher engine speeds where the solid-lifter K-code gave its best performance (max hp was @6,000rpm). My favorite ads are those which call attention to particular technologies or engineering detail. This one doesn’t get terribly in-depth, but it nevertheless highlights a specific mechanical feature. Note the careful language employed to avoid calling potential customers poseurs; the Cruise-O-Matic isn’t there because you want the best V8 but can’t drive the car so equipped. No, it’s “a memorable high-performance machine that you’re not afraid to let your wife drive to the supermarket!” Riiight.
Even the higher-output (306hp) Shelby GT350 got the Cruise-O-Matic in 1966, and not just the 350H version built for Hertz. Actually, all of the 350Hs except for the first 85 came with the automatic. We can assume Hertz wasn’t eager to be replacing clutches from heavy-footed use by its customers.