It is impossible to examine how automakers have changed major components without taking the history and the causes and impacts of politics into account. No better case for this can be made than Ford’s AOD transmissions. Once characterized as a “weak-kneed” gearbox, the AOD evolved into the AOD-E and 4R70-W line. With help from Baumann Electronic Controls, these transmissions are a great choice for street performance. Let’s take a look at the genesis of the transmission, what advantages they offer now, and how Baumann controls help.
A History Lesson
The muscle car era of the 1960s and very early 1970s had spawned large displacement, carbureted V8 engines in heavy chassis. With gasoline prices at .39 cents a gallon in 1972, gasoline was cheap and plentiful. Muscle car enthusiasts were unaware of pending disaster. In October of 1973, the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo against countries that supported the nation of Israel during the Yom Kippur war.
Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States were targeted with the embargo. Understanding that cheap gasoline was a thing of the past, Detroit began efforts to manufacture fuel-efficient cars, starting with automatic transmissions. Environmental standards imposed by the Federal Government came into play shortly thereafter, and by the time a second oil embargo crisis arrived in 1979, car manufacturers were ready. Ford’s answer was the Automatic OverDrive (AOD) transmission.
The AOD Transmission
Introduced in 1980, Ford’s AOD was the first domestic automatic overdrive transmission. The biggest improvement in Ford’s AOD was the direct overdrive lockup that eliminated slippage and wasted energy. The automotive press is loathed to change and disliked the transmission initially. It did take Ford engineers a few years to get the AOD units tweaked into dependable performers. Wide overdrive drums and the associated band solved any durability issues.
The AOD was redesigned with electric controls in 1992 and identified as the AOD-E. The AOD and AOD-E are similar to each other but they are not interchangeable because the AOD-E’s shift points are controlled electronically from a combination of solenoids and the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) while the AOD’s shift points are hydraulically controlled by a throttle valve rod.
The 4R70-W Transmission
Ford changed the gear ratios to give the transmission a better mechanical advantage in 1993. This resulted in better take-off acceleration, better passing advantage, and lower fuel consumption. The new gear set offered more strength. A higher 4th gear ratio resulted in less wear from shifting giving some extra durability in the unit. The 4R70-W designation stood for four gears(4) Rear-wheel drive (R), The number 70 is a Ford model designation, and the W is for a wider gear ratio.
Over forty years later, the AOD line is proven for street and strip performance. Enthusiasts love the gearbox’s simplicity and durability along with the aftermarket kits that improve upon performance. The electrically controlled versions can be assisted greatly by kits from Baumann Electric Controls.
“Ford’s AOD-E and 4R70W transmissions are undoubtedly the best choices for a street performance small-block transmission,” said Baumann’s Jake Chandler. “Affording all of the advantages of an old AOD transmission, plus increased strength, greater reliability, and – for the first time – complete electronic control of all transmission functions.”
US Shift Quick 4 System
The complete control Jake refers to is through Baumann’s US Shift Quick 4 TCS system. This system represents the state of the art in electronic transmission control. Favored by performance enthusiasts because the unit is cost-effective, easy to install, and easy to use for high-performance and heavy-duty applications.
According to Jake, “The Shift Quick 4 system is equally suited to street rods, 8-second drag cars, off-road vehicles, high-powered diesel, motor-homes, and specialty applications. Plus, the system features the smallest size, useful features, and greatest value of any transmission controller on the market. Best of all, they are proudly made in the USA.”
If you are considering an AOD transmission installation or upgrade for your vehicle, an AODE or 4R70W transmission may be a better choice and likely be more cost-effective than upgrading an old AOD. The AOD-E will fit almost anywhere that an AOD will fit. It is dimensionally equal to the AOD with the exception of about 7/8 inch (22 mm) of added length in the bell housing area, which lengthens the whole transmission by this amount.
Where To Find The Quick 4 System
For more information and pricing of the US Shift Quick 4 system, visit Baumann Electronic Controls at www.becontrols.com.