When it comes to acceleration performance, nothing sets you back in the seat better than low rearend gears. There is a price to pay for that stump-pulling experience, however: not so good fuel economy. Of course, the introduction of the overdrive transmission has provided a compromise between both worlds. You can have a relatively stiff set of rear cogs, couple it with the low First gear of the tranny, and you get a decent amount of performance mixed with acceptable fuel mileage. However, there are limitations with these gearboxes, not the least of which is their vulnerability to high-horsepower/torque applications. Therefore, a need has risen for a simple overdrive that can provide you with the ability to run low rear gears and still take to the highway with that 600hp boulevard bruiser.
There are a couple of popular overdrives on the market, but besides being a few-thousand dollars (prior to installation), few will take the abuse that the new V2OD from US Gear will. The biggest difference between the others and the V2OD is that the US Gear unit is a manual gearbox, not an automatic. Like a Muncie or Borg Warner four-speed the V2OD has a slider mechanism that engages a set of gears, not a set of clutches, drums, and wet plates. In short, it was designed with performance in mind, not towing capacity. U.S. Gear's new unit features an aluminum case that simply replaces the tailshaft and bolts to the back of the existing transmission. It's available in either a 20 or 30 percent reduction version, depending on what gear you currently have in your car.
The V2OD is a perfect addition to a street machine that is geared low for cruising Main Street and then blasting down the strip. With its 20 or 30 percent reduction, you can literally drive to the track without getting only 2 gallons to the mile.
Recently, the gurus at US Gear approached us with the idea of putting one of their units in the ongoing Classical Resurrection '68 Camaro project. Along with the idea came the fact that it had never been done before. With a resounding "yes" we agreed to the challenge and tackled the project to make the V2OD fit the tight confines of the First-Gen's tranny tunnel.
If you haven't noticed, we tend to get excited about doing these types of "firsts." We do them as often as possible, so with that in mind, we jumped on it. This is somewhat of an R&D situation, and we knew going into the install that there could be some complications. With a few attempts at putting the unit in place, we quickly realized what needed to be done. This allowed us to orchestrate a chain of events to best complete this project.
After a quick glance, we knew that clearance would be an issue. We also needed to reroute the previously done exhaust system. Luckily enough, the Camaro doesn't have dual mufflers. It has a traverse-mounted, stock-style Flowmaster muffler. All we had to accomplish was to get the overdrive unit to physically fit in the tunnel, and the rest would be simple.
We also knew that the driveshaft that was in the car would have to be shortened a considerable amount--close to 13 inches as it turned out. Fortunately, the solution for the driveshaft was literally right next door to the shop performing the installation.
The final solution, or the best idea we could come up with to make the housing work, required applying a little heat to the tunnel's sheetmetal and using a small sledgehammer to increase the size of the tunnel. It may sound scary to some, but the amount of pounding required to make room for the V2OD was minimal and easily accomplished. Once the room for it was created, the unit simply bolted in place. The linkage, which was redesigned, based on our experience, to be leveraged from under the unit rather than the side, is cable operated and easy to install. As for the speedometer cable, it, too, was a simple hookup.
Though we were exploring uncharted ground with this install, we came away from the experience successfully and with a unit in our car that will make cruising to the Vegas or Phoenix Super Chevy Show a little less costly. With a 450hp supercharged small-block and a 350 coupled to a set of 3.73:1 cogs, this car will definitely give you a rush. With the 20 percent reduction from the V2OD, these 3.73s will come in at around 2.99s. And that should help in the gas-guzzling department. Stick around and see how our install takes shape.