Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic and the C Household of Automated Transmissions (Half II)

Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic and the C Household of Automated Transmissions (Half II)


We proceed our Deserted Historical past protection of the Ford Cruise-O-Matic transmission at the moment, shortly after the three-speed computerized established itself as a dependable motivation supply for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury merchandise. Developed by the Warner Gear division of Borg-Warner, the brand new computerized caught Ford as much as the competitors so far as an computerized providing was involved. Environment friendly and economical to construct, Studebaker acquired in on the Cruise-O-Matic motion for his or her vehicles too.

After the field proved itself on Ford and Mercury vehicles, it unfold to the luxurious ’55 Lincoln lineup the place it changed the four-speed GM Hydra-Matic. We decide up there, as efforts acquired underway to enhance upon the unique Borg-Warner design and add whiz-bang options. This entry doesn’t find yourself the place you’d count on.

The activation methodology of an computerized transmission was one thing price advertising and marketing within the Fifties. Whereas levers have been so boring, pushbutton automatics grew to become all the craze. Chrysler acquired the soar on the opposite Detroit automakers when it launched a pushbutton TorqueFlite computerized into its lineup in 1956 (we’ll have a TorqueFlite sequence quickly). Ford determined instantly that it wanted an identical function.

Dearborn started the event of pushbutton controls of its personal, which it launched underneath the identify Keyboard Management. The function debuted in 1957 on the Mercury line and carried out 5 separate buttons. These buttons weren’t labeled the way you’d count on: The longest button was on the prime of the management panel as Drive. Beneath, the 4 smaller buttons have been Brake (park), Impartial Begin (impartial), Hill Management (low), and Reverse.

These enjoyable names lasted on Mercury vehicles for precisely one mannequin yr. The Keyboard Management was reworked for 1958 and renamed to Multi-Drive Keyboard Management. New labels appeared on the buttons, which then numbered six. Drive was break up into Efficiency and Cruising, whereas the Park button grew to become a lever that moved ahead and backward. When pushed within the automotive was in park, and the buttons have been locked from activation till the lever was pulled again out.

Each variations of the pushbutton computerized have been a little bit of a gimmick and didn’t show all that fashionable with customers. The system went away after 1958, and in 1959 Mercury automobiles have been geared up with a ho-hum column gear selector.

Whereas bewildered customers pressed buttons within the Mercury showroom, transmission growth carried on at Ford. The Ford-O-Matic was used as a place to begin for 2 new transmissions Ford on their very own. The corporate wanted extra variations of the three-speed as home passenger automobiles, on the whole, grew bigger, sprouted fins, and carried ever better portions of heavy chrome.

The bigger bejeweled vehicles weighed extra and required greater engines to push them throughout the nation. However customers needed greater than satisfactory energy; the latter half of the Fifties was the unofficial begin of the horsepower race in Detroit. Extra horses and extra torque meant a necessity for a more durable transmission.

What Ford developed on the premise of the Ford-O-Matic have been its MX and FX variations. The MX was the bigger transmission, whereas the FX was smaller. Nonetheless three-speed automatics, each variations used the identical planetary gearset as the unique F-O-M however relocated the transmission’s pump from the rear to the entrance of the field. The MX and FX additionally carried a brand new valve physique that allowed them to start out in first gear in drive, fairly than second.

The bigger MX was destined to be used within the highly effective V8 automobiles from Lincoln, Mercury, and higher-end Ford vehicles. All MX bins have been constructed at Livonia Transmission (1952-present) in Michigan. FX was used solely in Ford and Mercury fashions, and largely in midrange choices. The FX was made within the Fairfax Transmission plant in Cincinnati, alongside the then-dated Ford-O-Matic.

The brand new transmissions’ functionality to start out in first gear posed a branding drawback for the previous Ford-O-Matic. Whereas it was technically additionally a three-speed, it differed in that it didn’t begin in first gear just like the FX and MX. Ford determined to promote it as a two-speed after FX and MX debuted, which certainly confused some current homeowners who thought-about their vehicles a three-speed previous to 1958. Additional, each new variations of the transmission have been marketed underneath a brand new household identify: Cruise-O-Matic.

However that wasn’t sufficient naming confusion, as a brand new model of the Ford-O-Matic arrived for the ’59 mannequin yr. It was an easier model of the unique Ford-O-Matic and used a torque converter with a compound planetary gear set. There was a multi-disc clutch on the entrance that dealt with excessive gear, whereas a band on the clutch drum dealt with low gear, and a band on the rear gear drum created reverse. The simplified two-speed was provided solely on choose Ford and Mercury fashions, in addition to Edsel.

The world of computerized transmissions stayed in stasis at Ford for the following few years with the gen-two Ford-O-Matic, and MX and FX three-speed Cruise-O-Matics adequate for the entire Blue Oval’s passenger vehicles. Elsewhere on the earth, different nations have been additionally wading into the waters of the automated. However as a substitute of struggling by the event of their very own transmission, they stole Ford’s. Let’s speak concerning the Soviet Union and GAZ.

Ford Fairlane & Fairlane 500 – 1958

Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) did have a official relationship with Ford within the Twenties. In 1929 as The Nice Melancholy approached, Ford contracted with GAZ: The model new Russian firm was to construct the Mannequin A underneath license. Ford equipped the engineering paperwork to GAZ, who set to work. The contract was by way of the USSR’s worldwide commerce division, referred to as Amtorg Buying and selling Company (1924-1998). Amtorg was the primary enterprise presence the USSR had in america, and it was headquartered in New York Metropolis.

Whereas Amtorg was contracted with Ford, it additionally contracted with Albert Kahn’s architectural agency. Kahn designed many Ford crops however was struggling for American enterprise through the Melancholy. Kahn labored for Amtorg and cooperated by way of the corporate with Ford to design the very first GAZ plant within the USSR, at Niznij Novogrod. They have been going to construct Ford vehicles anyway, why not?

After cooperation with Amtorg started, Kahn helped begin a authorities workplace in Moscow to assist with the event of Russian architects and engineers. The workplace, Gosproektstroi, labored particularly with regard to widespread manufacturing unit design within the established Ford and Kahn fashions. High rating employees from Kahn’s agency moved to Moscow to work at Gosproektstroi. The workplace was answerable for the standardization of constructing development throughout the USSR. This exercise didn’t go down properly with many folks in america, who rapidly accused Kahn of supporting communism.

The take care of Amtorg and the USSR workplace didn’t final lengthy although, because the GAZ manufacturing unit was opened in November 1930, and Kahn’s contract with Amtorg resulted in 1932. The primary GAZ was the A – a close to copy of the Mannequin A, which then was developed into the AA pickup truck. Cooperation between GAZ and Ford lasted by 1935, and one wonders what number of calls of communistic help have been directed at Dearborn.

Some 20 years later, it was no shock that when GAZ wanted an computerized transmission an examination of Ford merchandise was on the prime of their to-do record. By then GAZ was among the many most extremely regarded automakers in Russia, with a full lineup that included government and luxurious vehicles for high-ranking members of the politburo, in addition to off-road automobiles and vans of various duties. We’ll decide up our story with the GAZ translation of the Ford-O-Matic subsequent time.

[Images: Ford]

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September 2022