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Praising the Powerglide

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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Growing up, my Grandfather sang the praises of the Powerglide in his El Camino.

It was dead reliable, he could shift it manually, and it just kept going and going.

My Grandfather drove it everywhere, was a very experienced mechanic, and an educated car aficionado, so he had a pretty good idea of what he was talking about.

Years later, I discovered it was one helluva high performance transmission, as well, when I read one was sitting behind the engine of a 9-second street/strip Impala on giggle juice.

I can't ever remember it giving him any trouble or him talking about it giving him any — neither did he ever mention having it rebuilt. I don't know exactly how many miles are on it, either, but, when I went to photograph the interior last week, I found the El Camino had 2,701 on the odometer. Could be 102,701 or 202,701. I don't think it had 302,701. He loved to drive — and we regularly went all sorts of places, so I know he drove a lot — but I don't think he put that many miles on it. I know the little 283 V8 was rebuilt once, but I'm pretty sure that's all of the major work the powertrain has seen during its life.

Of course, it's going to get a whole lot more when I put it back on the road, including the transmission rebuild I mentioned last week — just as soon as I can manage to get adequate space and proper equipment.

The more I ponder it, the more comfortable I am with doing the work myself — the Powerglide Transmission Handbook really is quite thorough. Of course, I've got a significant bit of knowledge and some experience doing similar work to give me applicable practice and practical know-how. If I didn't, I'd probably be better off letting someone else do the work — I wouldn't say rebuilding a transmission is a good job for a novice to get their feet wet.

Still, even if you won't be doing the work yourself, the Powerglide Transmission Handbook is an excellent volume to pick up if you want to understand the work that goes into a Powerglide rebuild — whether you're a novice or professional.


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