One Trans, One Builder
"When Gearstar was first formed, we recruited the top five master builders out of a field of hundreds of technicians at Tri Star. All of these builders are experts in all automatics, but each one specializes in one specific type of unit. When you order a Gearstar transmission, it is assigned to the builder who specializes in that unit. That builder is responsible for that transmission from the time the order is taken, through the building process, and finally until the customer has installed the unit in his vehicle. His initials are inscribed into the case along with a tag number that matches the number on the invoice. The reason Gearstar uses the one-transmission, one-builder approach versus a more common assembly-line process is simple. By having one builder responsible for the transmission from start to finish, the customer is ensured a quality product. That builder knows that he is the one person responsible for that unit, which promotes pride in craftsmanship. It also makes it easy to track come-backs, which at Gearstar runs less than one percent. In our 28 years of experience, we've learned that the one-builder approach is the only way to guarantee a perfect transmission every time."
Big Horsepower Components
Being that performance transmissions often fail at the 400-500 hp range, how can you possibly get them to survive at, say, twice that level? Farah explains that many of the key components for a transmission built to survive behind an 800hp motor are custom manufactured from 300M billet steel or aluminum. "These parts are also relieved to accommodate Torrington bearings instead of thrust washers to lower the inertia level inside the transmission, which transfers horsepower and torque more efficiently," he says. "This also helps lower the drag to minimize heat and parasitic power loss."
Dynos aren't just for engines. Each transmission that Gearstar manufactures is extensively dyno-tested with a converter that is custom-manufactured and calibrated for that specific transmission. "Our dynomometer simulates the stress and drag that the transmission and converter package will experience in the customer's vehicle," Farah explains. "We dyno-test the transmission and converter the equivalent of 60 miles on the street, in addition to running the transmission and converter at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour repeatedly. By dyno-testing each transmission, Gearstar is able to ensure that the package is perfect before it leaves our facility instead of using the customer's car as a testbed. This ensures that the transmission has passed all noise, leak, vibration, and hydraulic-pressure tests and that shift timing and shift quality have been verified."
If you want drama-free interstate cruising without the hassle of a computer, your only two options are a 700-R4 or a 200-4R. There is much ongoing debate as to which is better, but both are extremely capable. While the 700-R4 is generally accepted as the stronger unit in stock trim, thanks to the advances forged by the Turbo Buick scene, the 200-4R can survive in 8-second drag machines without a hitch. To help you decide, Farah points out some key differences between the two. "The 700-R4 has a deeper First gear ratio of 3.06:1, but that results in a bigger drop in rpm between First and Second, and it also has a taller overdrive," he says. It is slightly larger in size than the 200-4R, and Gearstar's Level 4 big-block unit is rated to handle the torque of a stout 502. "The 200-4R has a taller 2.74:1 First gear ratio, so it doesn't have that big drop between First and Second. It is slightly smaller in size than the 700-R4, can handle up to 800 lb-ft of torque, and uses less power to turn."