February 3, 2023


Born to perform

Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic and the C Family of Automatic Transmissions (Part II)

6 min read


We go on our Abandoned Heritage coverage of the Ford Cruise-O-Matic transmission nowadays, soon right after the three-pace automated set up alone as a reliable drive source for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury products and solutions. Developed by the Warner Equipment division of Borg-Warner, the new automated caught Ford up to the competitors as far as an computerized providing was involved. Effective and affordable to construct, Studebaker acquired in on the Cruise-O-Matic motion for their automobiles also.

After the box proved by itself on Ford and Mercury cars and trucks, it spread to the lavish ’55 Lincoln lineup wherever it replaced the 4-pace GM Hydra-Matic. We decide up there, as attempts acquired underway to boost upon the initial Borg-Warner layout and insert whiz-bang attributes. This entry doesn’t end up where by you’d hope.

The activation technique of an automated transmission was a little something worthy of internet marketing in the Fifties. While levers were so monotonous, pushbutton automatics became all the rage. Chrysler acquired the bounce on the other Detroit automakers when it launched a pushbutton TorqueFlite computerized into its lineup in 1956 (we’ll have a TorqueFlite collection soon). Ford resolved straight away that it desired a related function.

Dearborn commenced the progress of pushbutton controls of its possess, which it released below the identify Keyboard Control. The attribute debuted in 1957 on the Mercury line and executed 5 separate buttons. Those buttons weren’t labeled how you’d anticipate: The longest button was at the best of the management panel as Travel. Underneath, the 4 lesser buttons have been Brake (park), Neutral Commence (neutral), Hill Handle (low), and Reverse.

All those exciting names lasted on Mercury cars and trucks for particularly 1 product 12 months. The Keyboard Command was reworked for 1958 and renamed to Multi-Travel Keyboard Regulate. New labels appeared on the buttons, which then numbered six. Drive was split into Effectiveness and Cruising, though the Park button turned a lever that moved forward and backward. When pushed in the car was in park, and the buttons were locked from activation until eventually the lever was pulled again out.

Both equally versions of the pushbutton automatic have been a bit of a gimmick and did not show all that common with people. The system went away soon after 1958, and in 1959 Mercury motor vehicles had been equipped with a ho-hum column equipment selector.

Though bewildered buyers pressed buttons in the Mercury showroom, transmission progress carried on at Ford. The Ford-O-Matic was utilised as a starting off place for two new transmissions Ford on their own. The company required much more variations of the three-velocity as domestic passenger vehicles, in standard, grew larger, sprouted fins, and carried at any time increased portions of heavy chrome.

The larger bejeweled autos weighed additional and expected bigger engines to drive them across the nation. But buyers needed more than adequate power the latter fifty percent of the Fifties was the unofficial get started of the horsepower race in Detroit. Far more horses and far more torque meant a have to have for a more durable transmission.

What Ford made on the basis of the Ford-O-Matic have been its MX and Forex variations. The MX was the larger transmission, whilst the Fx was more compact. Continue to 3-speed automatics, the two variations utilised the similar planetary gearset as the initial F-O-M but relocated the transmission’s pump from the rear to the entrance of the box. The MX and Forex also carried a new valve entire body that authorized them to start out in 1st gear in travel, fairly than second.

The more substantial MX was destined for use in the strong V8 motor vehicles from Lincoln, Mercury, and larger-conclusion Ford cars. All MX containers have been created at Livonia Transmission (1952-current) in Michigan. Fx was used only in Ford and Mercury products, and typically in midrange offerings. The Forex was designed in the Fairfax Transmission plant in Cincinnati, alongside the then-dated Ford-O-Matic.

The new transmissions’ capability to commence in to start with gear posed a branding difficulty for the previous Ford-O-Matic. Even though it was technically also a three-velocity, it differed in that it did not get started in first equipment like the Forex and MX. Ford made the decision to market place it as a two-pace after Fx and MX debuted, which undoubtedly bewildered some existing proprietors who considered their cars a a few-velocity prior to 1958. Even further, each new variations of the transmission were promoted below a new family title: Cruise-O-Matic.

But that wasn’t sufficient naming confusion, as a new variation of the Ford-O-Matic arrived for the ’59 model calendar year. It was a more simple variation of the initial Ford-O-Matic and made use of a torque converter with a compound planetary equipment set. There was a multi-disc clutch at the front that taken care of high gear, whilst a band on the clutch drum taken care of small equipment, and a band on the rear equipment drum made reverse. The simplified two-pace was presented only on choose Ford and Mercury types, as very well as Edsel.

The environment of automated transmissions stayed in stasis at Ford for the upcoming number of many years with the gen-two Ford-O-Matic, and MX and Fx three-speed Cruise-O-Matics adequate for all of the Blue Oval’s passenger cars. In other places in the globe, other nations have been also wading into the waters of the automated. But as an alternative of suffering by the advancement of their individual transmission, they stole Ford’s. Let us converse about the Soviet Union and GAZ.

Ford Fairlane & Fairlane 500 – 1958

Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) did have a legit marriage with Ford in the Twenties. In 1929 as The Fantastic Melancholy approached, Ford contracted with GAZ: The manufacturer new Russian corporation was to make the Model A less than license. Ford equipped the engineering documents to GAZ, who set to perform. The deal was by means of the USSR’s intercontinental commerce division, identified as Amtorg Investing Corporation (1924-1998). Amtorg was the initial small business existence the USSR had in the United States, and it was headquartered in New York Town.

Although Amtorg was contracted with Ford, it also contracted with Albert Kahn’s architectural organization. Kahn built numerous Ford vegetation but was having difficulties for American business throughout the Depression. Kahn labored for Amtorg and cooperated by way of the corporation with Ford to design and style the incredibly 1st GAZ plant in the USSR, at Niznij Novogrod. They have been heading to build Ford cars and trucks in any case, why not?

Immediately after cooperation with Amtorg commenced, Kahn assisted start a government office in Moscow to aid with the progress of Russian architects and engineers. The business, Gosproektstroi, worked particularly with regard to widespread factory layout in the founded Ford and Kahn types. Prime position workers from Kahn’s firm moved to Moscow to work at Gosproektstroi. The business was in cost of the standardization of building building across the USSR. This activity did not go down perfectly with many folks in the United States, who swiftly accused Kahn of supporting communism.

The deal with Amtorg and the USSR business office didn’t previous extended while, as the GAZ manufacturing unit was opened in November 1930, and Kahn’s contract with Amtorg ended in 1932. The to start with GAZ was the A – a close to duplicate of the Product A, which then was produced into the AA pickup truck. Cooperation between GAZ and Ford lasted through 1935, and one particular miracles how quite a few phone calls of communistic aid had been directed at Dearborn.

Some 20 decades afterwards, it was no surprise that when GAZ required an automated transmission an examination of Ford products and solutions was at the major of their to-do record. By then GAZ was among the the most hugely regarded automakers in Russia, with a complete lineup that provided executive and luxury cars and trucks for substantial-rating users of the politburo, as well as off-road autos and trucks of varying duties. We’ll decide up our tale with the GAZ translation of the Ford-O-Matic next time.

[Images: Ford]

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