Okay, so we left our Ultimate Tanning Machine sitting in the shop for a few weeks post engine installation. We couldn't decide what to do for a transmission! Would it be a T-56, or maybe an M22? No, no, no, we're going the wrong direction. We made up our minds that the Ultimate Tanning Machine was for cruising, not hot laps at Willow Springs Raceway. There was only one thought in our minds...TH700-R4. Last month we got our trick ZZ 383 powerplant installed, broken-in and completely dialed. Awaiting arrival of the rearend, we took the '64 to Bowtie Overdrives in Hesperia, California, for its street-prepped, stage-two 700-R4, four-speed automatic overdrive.
We've decided to make things a bit easier for you and provide a quick understanding about the internals of BTO's 700-R4. All 700-Rs begin as a used GM cores, '88-93 in vintage, with 30-spline input shafts. After a complete hot tank, the cores are inspected for damage and are prepped for assembly. The heart of the 700-R, according to BTO, is the internal hydraulic pump. It is ultimately responsible for the life or death of the transmission. As such, these pumps are re-machined at BTO's in-house CNC-machine shop. With a tolerance of .0005 inch, the pump is a heck of a lot tighter than it was the day it was first manufactured.
Over and above the OE components, BTO makes use of heavy-duty clutches, one-piece seals, stronger bands, and of course, brand-new vanes. The 700-R is blueprinted to insure precise pressure regulation, an element that controls shift timing and firmness.
Right now you're probably thinking what does all this mean and do I really need to absorb all this. The simple answer is no, as buyers of these types of products all we want to know is: can I afford it, is it strong and how difficult is it to install? At a tick over $1,000 (minus converter), we're pretty sure that the price is right and after watching the Tanning Machine's 700-R fall into place we also agree that installation is relatively painless. However, no tranny conversion is truly bolt-in. In our case, we had to take out the trick new U.S. Radiator and have it reconfigured for transmission cooling. We were originally under the impression that we would be using an external cooler. To add one more element of simplicity to the game, BTO manufactures high-strength rear crossmembers to adapt their transmissions into early musclecars. Pretty cool, huh? We thought so.
After the actual installation of the transmission, BTO installed their trick TV cable system, which is quite easy to adjust. In fact, all that is needed is a small Allen wrench and about 15 seconds with the hood up. With our 700-R4 installed and ready to rock, we're suffering from a severe case of rearend envy...Dana 60-style that is! Stay tuned for Part III when Strange's S60 rearend makes it's way into the Ultimate Tanning Machine!