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.
I’m actually surprised it took Ford that long to get the C4 behind the K-Code; they offered that powertrain option in the Fairlane starting in late-’64.
Ford has long been a “standard transmission only” company as far as their hot cars were concerned. All Boss Mustangs, current Shelby Mustangs, 427 Galaxies…manuals only. All along, Chrysler offered the Torqueflite in the hot cars, and GM usually gave you an option (early Z28s notwithstanding).
IIRC, the first two generations of the Taurus SHO, the SVO Mustang, and the present Focus ST and Fiesta ST also were/are manual-only, so I guess the point remains. If you want one of their hot cars, Ford expects you to be able to shift for yourself.
Actually it was only the first gen SHO(89-91) that was manual only. The second generation SHO(92-95) was offered with a manual and auto trans. However the first year of the 2nd generation SHO(1992) was manual trans only. By 1992 Ford realized that more folks would buy the SHO with an auto trans so in 1993 Ford offered the SHO with a auto trans and a 3.2l engine.
Thanks for the correction.
This ad is kind of strange. Firstly, It would have been nice if the production people used a pic of an actual V8-Hipo car instead of a six.
Also, a cabover big rig isn’t much of a challenge.
I had to think about that big rig for a moment. My take from the ad text is that this is marketing “plenty of passing power” vs. specific high performance. The Mustang was a lot of things to lot of people, and this is telling a more conservative audience that this is not just a secretary’s car, but also not a Shelby GT350 that your 62 year old Mercury Monterrey driving boss wouldn’t approve of in the company lot. There appears to be a younger tie wearing office worker behind the wheel.
Both the Trucks in the background are Fords as well, with the H series Tractor and a F 700 with a Cement Barrel.
It’s like the ad says: “Why doesn’t Mustang bolt Cruise-O-Matic behind the 271 solid-lifter V-8”?
Who do you think is actually asking that? Well the person in the six-cylinder Low-power version of course! These were the target market for the V8/auto combo—people who wanted V8 cachet without the actual skill needed to drive it to its potential. Poseurs, simply, as the author clearly says, but Ford takes pains to AVOID saying:)
I wonder which version of the Cruise O Matic this was? Ford used the name for so many automatics – there was the FX/MX/FMX unit that began life in 1958 and was based on the older Borg-Warner derived Ford O Matic, or was it a beefed-up version of the C4, which I have assumed is the only Ford automatic that would fit in a Mustang. It could not have been a C6, as those did not make it out into the Ford line until the late 60s.
As a Mopar fan, I kind of smile over the hand-wringing from Ford and Chevy guys about automatics in performance cars. Their hand wringing was understandable, when the 4 speed was the only way to get max performance out of their cars given the automatics available there. Mopar people always treated the 4 speed/Torqueflite question as one of sheer personal preference, as one was about as good as the other for performance.
It was a C4.
And the C4 wouldn’t have needed to be “beefed up”. Transmissions are limited by torque, not hp, as it is the twisting forces that can damage gears. Higher hp output due to higher rpm is typically not an issue, as torque drops off with rpm. The shiftpoints would have been increased, but that was probably the only real change.
Torque drops off with rpm, but when the drop off isn’t necessarily steep (meaning plenty is still being put out by the engine), would it not require some reinforcement to shift at higher rpm than is normally the case? Or do higher input speeds not put extra strain on a transmission?
I’m not an expert. It’s possible, but I never heard of a specific C4 for these engines. I doubt the C4 didn’t have reserves in its capacity, given that it was a new transmission, and designed to be used for a long time in a period when engine capacity and output was invariably increasing.
I do know that various transmissions are all rated/limited by a specific max torque. Which has been a problem with modern diesels, since they generate such massive torque, at low rpm too. For instance, that’s why you don’t hardly see any CVTs used with diesels. The same has applied conventional automatics; either a different unit or a modified unit had to be used. All the transmission families are designed/rated according to max. torque.
There were actually quite a few differences between the standard C4 and the Hi-Po C4, mostly to extend the shift points. The above website shows some potential differences. I saw an article once that explained it in more detail, but I can’t find it again.
Cars like my Cirtroen cannot be had with auto trans only petrol/gas or nonturbo diesels cfrom PSA were autos
Well it could have been a C6 based on the time since the C6 was introduced for 66, which is what the C6 translates to in Ford engineering number speak, just like C4 stood for 64. However it was the C4 behind the 271hp 289.
Well sit tight, I have just the ad for you. It’s from a ’66 Motor Trend and I’ll scan it and put it up in the next few weeks.
I must have been sleeping when this came out. Thanks Perry. These companies sure did play games with images and words to get you to buy in. Somehow the best selling point for me was how long it would last and how reliable it was. Two features that were probably in short supply here.
I’ve never been a fan of fastbacks. They look attractive, but there’s not much in the way of head room for adults. If you have children, between the ages of 2 and 10, both would be perfect, since there’s no rear door to open during the drive. But for the teens and adults, it would get rather uncomfortable.
My favourite Mustangs are the 1965 through 1967.
How much power would the auto box sap compared to a manual?
I’ll let someone else answer more definitively, but Ford’s automatics aren’t known for their efficiency, hence JP’s comment above. Someone with more experience, also, should chime in about how good of a combination it was or wasn’t; judging by what I’ve read, a typical Ford automatic of the era in combination with a more high-strung V8 may not have reflected well on the engine, which is why I brought up Toyota’s and Honda’s cam-changing four-cylinder/automatic powertrains. But then, how bad could it be, with roughly 4.7 liters carrying 2,800 pounds?
The supposed efficiency deficiency of Ford automatics is seriously over blown around these parts. That statement is always quoting that the C6 is less efficient than the TH400 and 727, however we are not talking about the big trans here. The general consensus, outside of these pages, is that the C4 is more efficient than the TH350 though not as efficient as the PG. Of course the C4’s extra gear vs a PG makes for an overall more efficient combo anywhere but the drag strip.
And wasn’t the C6 a much more efficient transmission than the much older FX/MX/FMX design that went back to 1958?
Yes, despite being a much heavier, stronger and more durable. AT losses are due to a number of factors and for some of those the trade off to make it more efficient is a loss of durability or torque capacity.
Efficiency is only part of the equation. Chevy’s Powerglide, which was quite common in Corvettes and other hi-po Chevys, was more efficient in terms of parasitic losses, but of course had only two gears.
The C4’s three gears were a much better choice behind the 289 than a PG would have been. And the C4 was more efficient than the big C6, which was known to be the least efficient of the big automatics.
Also, automatics were much easier to launch on a full-throttle acceleration, which combined with the torque amplification and rapid shifts, can make them roughly comparable in the hands of anything but the best drivers.
Comparing 0-60 times or 1/4 mile times between stick and automatics may not reflect real world situations. All too many drivers didn’t know how to optimize a launch on a stick, which given the rubbery rear suspensions and skinny tires back then, was a fine art. Even then, 0-60 and 1/4 mile times varied significantly between different magazines, especially on stick cars, for that reason.
Thanks for the info,I’ll try find one at the next show I attend.
Could Ford’s automatics explain my general impression that comparable GMs always seemed to get better mileage? A comparison of stick-shift models might shed light on this.
BTW, “Powerglide” just has to be the most cool-sounding transmission name ever coined. “Cruise-O-Matic” sounds trite, & “Turbo-Hydramatic” is a mouthful. “TorqueFlite” isn’t bad, but cars don’t fly (very long).
Merco Matic always made me think of washing machines!
I like it almost as much as I like the C and F series Medium Duty rigs in the back ground….
I like how Ford played up the easy manual-style shifting as a selling point in the ad. The floor-shift coming on 100% of the A/T models, and at such a low price, was one of the groundbreaking features on the original Mustang. Still can’t believe you could get an early Camaro with column shift, it’s like GM hadn’t figured out the ponycar yet.
In the first ad it looks like a ’66 grille with the ’65 side vents.
And Ford put the “Note 3 speeds” in this ad as a dig at Chevy’s Powerglide.
I would guess at around 1 sec slower acceleration times, plus a permanent rubber band winding up feeling that you get with non-lockup torque converter transmissions
I’ve seen this ad before, so I knew such a combination was at least advertised if not actually sold in any number. Given the peaky nature of the K code 289 it was probably not a great combination. Even with a 4 speed these engines needed lots of help from a low rear end gear ratio, much like Chevy’s Z-28. A loose convertor would probably be part of the deal as well. I imagine a few were sold as drag cars for whatever drag racing class (D/stock/automatic?) it would have fit in at the time.
Anyone ever actually seen one in the wild?
Car guys will dismiss automatic trans’, but go to a drag strip and see all the racers using Powerglides and Turbo 400’s.
On the old Speed Channel, the show “PassTime” had every other racer with a Powergilde/Chevy V8.