We resume our Ford Cruise-O-Matic transmission protection at the moment, as the unique two- and three-speed automatics of the Fifties transition into the brand new C household. C transmissions had been designed to be lighter (aluminum) and extra environment friendly than their forged iron predecessors. The marvel of alloys!
In our final entry, we lined the primary two C transmissions, the C4 (1964-1981) and C6 (1966-1996). Since we’re continuing chronologically, we step again to Cruise-O-Matic for a second, and a mix-and-match transmission: FMX.
FMX was a by-product of the MX and FX, the 2 gearboxes based mostly on the unique Ford-O-Matic that arrived for 1958. MX was the bigger transmission for heavier passenger automotive use, whereas FX was the smaller one. The FX was not a long-lived transmission: It noticed utilization in solely smaller Ford and Mercury vehicles and was changed instantly by the C4 upon its model-year ’64 debut. The C6 was the efficient alternative for the bigger MX when it arrived in 1966, however Ford was not but completed with its first three-speed design.
The C4 and C6 introduced some new capability points. Ford wanted to construct a excessive quantity of C4 and C6 transmissions, however Livonia Transmission (1952-) in Michigan had solely a lot house. However, Fairfax Transmission in Cincinnati had unused capability. Recall from Part I that Fairfax constructed the two-speed Ford-O-Matic, which had not too long ago gone out of manufacturing in 1965. Fairfax turned the assigned residence for the brand new three-speed Ford had in growth.
Said three-speed took essentially the most fascinating elements of the MX and FX and mixed them. Internals had been from the stronger MX, but it surely used the case of the smaller FX. Effectively combining the 2 transmissions into one meant many fewer elements to make, and FMX was lighter as a result of it was smaller. Fairfax started constructing the FMX in 1968, and the transmission continued unchanged till 1979.
At that time, there was a steep decline within the demand for giant rear-drive vehicles, and the three-speed auto was already on its approach out. Fairfax was closed in ’79, and the official alternative for the FMX in 1980 was the brand new four-speed AOD (Automatic OverDrive). The FMX lived a bit longer elsewhere: Fairfax constructed some additional packing containers earlier than it shut down, and shipped them to Australia. There, they had been utilized in V8 Ford Falcons by means of the 1983 mannequin 12 months. Ford killed off the V8 choice within the Australian Falcon after ’83.
Though the FMX was the top of the Cruise-O-Matic X line, it wasn’t the top of the transmission’s affect at Ford. Circa 1962 when the MX and FX had been nonetheless recent, Ford determined to develop a brand new automated transmission that positioned gas economic system on the forefront of its design. Ford used the identical Ravigneaux planetary gearset design from the MX/FX, however thought exterior the field and included a fourth ahead gear.
This idea transmission was so just like the FX and MX that its first three gears had an an identical ratio. The third gear used a break up torque utility, with two gear units facet by facet. Split torque transmissions can ship energy to 2 completely different locations directly, they usually had been initially utilized in helicopters the place they may management each rotors. The design’s torque converter additionally featured a lockup and contributed to the challenge transmission’s identify: XT-LOD, or Extension Lock-Up Overdrive.
Though four-speeds had been the way in which of the long run, Ford didn’t have a crystal ball. In 1966 Ford put the transmission challenge on an indefinite maintain. It gathered mud till 1974 when gas economic system turned of prime import because of the ongoing gas disaster. When the challenge restarted in ’74, the transmission was renamed to FIOD (Ford Integrated Overdrive). Development continued by means of the remainder of the Seventies till the brand new transmission was prepared for introduction. Before its debut, it took its manufacturing identify: AOD.
The emphasis on gas economic system created an pressing want for home automakers to supply smaller and extra environment friendly autos to compete with the brand new compacts and subcompacts coming from Japan on the flip of the Seventies. The first subcompact Ford ever created was the Pinto, launched in 1971 to an excited viewers. When it was launched, the Pinto was accessible solely with a four-speed handbook transmission. To enhance its marketability, the Pinto wanted a lighter responsibility automated, even lighter than the C4.
Enter the C3. Designed with the identical light-weight methodology because the C4, the C3 was for longitudinal rear-drive utilization and had the anticipated three ahead speeds. The C3 was designed for small automotive utilization and was restricted in its utility to inline-four or six-cylinder engines. However, Ford’s crops in North America had been busy constructing the C4, C6, and FMX transmissions, so the Blue Oval seemed abroad. To France!
The growth of a brand new transmission plant in France began within the early Seventies, but it surely wasn’t all Ford’s concept. The new manufacturing unit was a three way partnership between transmission firm Getrag and Ford. The two corporations had an excellent relationship and labored in tandem beforehand to determine the Halewood transmission plant in Liverpool, England.
The location of the brand new plant was to be Bordeaux, a metropolis in southwestern France well-known for its wine. Specifically, the plant was situated in Blanquefort, a northern suburb. Construction began in 1972, and the plant constructed its first transmissions in 1973. At 1.557 million sq. ft, the plant’s web site spanned a full 161 acres and employed round 850 individuals. The very first transmission constructed at Bordeaux Automatic Transmission (1973-2019) was a C3.
C3’s first utilization was within the Pinto (and new Mercury Bobcat of 1974), the place it was marketed because the Cruise-O-Matic with SelectShift. The C3 unfold rapidly throughout the Ford lineup in North America. The imported Ford Capri used a C3, as did some lower-trim Lincolns with six-cylinder engines. Later within the decade, the Fairmont employed the C3, as did the a lot fancier Mercury Zephyr.
The Mustang couldn’t resist C3 motion, and neither did the aero Thunderbird of 1983. One might even discover a Mercury Marquis or Ford LTD with the C3, assuming it was powered by a 2.3-liter inline-four. And wouldn’t that have been an attractive drive! The last 12 months of the C3 in North America was 1989 when it was discovered within the ill-fated Merkur XR4Ti. That liftback was not particularly suited to such an automated given its sports-luxury mission.
Ford Europe made use of the C3 as effectively, the place it was added to the early Seventies variations of the Ford Granada, Cortina, and Consul. Later it was added to the Capri and Taunus, in addition to the daring Sierra. The C3 was completed in Europe by 1987 when Ford had a rework able to take its place. And the brand new model of the C3 featured an vital replace: Another ahead gear.
Ford added a fourth gear to the C3 and created the A4LD. The A4LD was an vital step ahead, as Ford’s first automated to characteristic an electronically managed torque converter lockup. While gears remained hydraulic in operation for many of the A4LD’s run, digital shift management was added between third and fourth gear later in life.
The A4LD was launched for the ’85 mannequin 12 months in North American and European Ford merchandise. In North America, it was first discovered on the tippy Bronco II, and its extra steady sibling the Ranger. The following 12 months (a vital one at Ford), the A4LD was added to the all-new Aerostar minivan.
In 1987 it changed the C3 within the Mustang and Thunderbird, the place it was paired to the two.3-liter inline-four. Finally, the Ford Explorer used the A4LD when it debuted in 1991, as did its lesser-known cousin the Mazda Navajo. And Mazda was the final to implement the A4, within the B-Series pickup that debuted in 1994.
European Fords used the A4LD in far more restricted utility, within the new Ford Scorpio (which North Americans acquired because the Merkur Scorpio). It turned the automated of alternative within the Sierra for 1987, the place it changed the previous C3.
The fourth gear gave the C3 a brand new lease on life, however its largest development would arrive in 1995. We’ll decide up there subsequent time.
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