And sure, installing a heads-and-cam package in an LT1 or LS1 F-body is like sentencing your 4L60E to death row. Worse yet, in heavier machines like Impalas and GTOs, simple bolt-ons are enough to burn this notorious slushbox up. Granted it's tough to shake such a miserable track record, but recent innovations have made it possible to build a 4L60E capable of handling in excess of 600 rear-wheel hp.
While we can't blame you for involuntarily convulsing in laughter after reading that last line, Mike Kurtz of Century Transmission is about to make good on that claim. With GM's recent updates to the 4L60E, building one that can survive behind a brutal street/strip motor is an entirely feasible proposition. In 2001, GM upgraded the 4L60E's four-pinion front and rear planetary gearsets to more rugged five-pinion units, and renamed it the 4L65E. Other updates included stronger bushings and bearings. To meet the demands of the LS2-powered Trailblazer SS in 2006, GM added a stronger heat-treated output shaft and a robust steel reaction gear to create the 4L70E. When combining many of these new factory internals with the best of the aftermarket, the once-feeble 4L60E can now be transformed into a stud. "The 4L60E certainly has its limits, but they're much higher now than just a few years ago," Mike explains. "I wouldn't recommend one in a 9-second drag car, but when built correctly they work great in 10-second street/strip applications, and have a very deep 3.06:1 First gear."
Of course, a popular course of action by late-model GM fans up to this point has been ditching overdrive altogether in favor of the venerable TH350 and TH400. While there's nothing wrong with sticking with these battle-proven three-speed stalwarts, losing a gear in a modern EFI platform does seem a bit regressive. Besides, who wants to have their motors buzzin' on the freeway while the Pro Touring Chevelle or first-gen Camaro in the other lane is cruising comfortably at 1,800 rpm in overdrive? Furthermore, since the 4L60E is nothing more than a glorified 700-R4, the same tweaks presented in this buildup also apply to third-gen F-bodies and early C4 Corvettes as well. Without further delay, follow along as Century Transmission shows you how to build a bulletproof 4L60E.