200-4R vs TH400 | Old Threads - whats the current vote - ClassicOldsmobile.com


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Old July 27th, 2018, 06:59 AM   #1  
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200-4R vs TH400 | Old Threads - whats the current vote

Looking for advise on which direction to go for my Transmission. I am in process of building my 455 with the help from Cutlassefi and Mark Hedrick (Horsepower by Hedrick). The motor will be 468 ci and will generate around 500+ HP base don math, and a good bit of torque - cant wait.

The car is currently as 2 barrel 350 w/ a TH350, standard rear end gears (will change based on Trans choice)...I'm changing pretty much everything. So I have been doing reading, and more reading, and more reading....and all I can come up with is a 50/50 split on a TH400 vs a 200-4R vs a 700...but all the threads are older

Whats the current take/experience on the better choice for transmission with the prescription I have here? I like the idea of the 200-4R as I can use the standard transmission crossmember mount's, etc. "Plug n Play" in best case. There is a local salvage yard here in NE Florida that has a 200-4R from a 86 Pontiac hearse...not sure I like the idea of that riding around with me LOL...I will keep searching, they are asking $300.00, bargaining on a fair deal could be had with this shop, but want to know whats reasonable for a used 200-4R, esp. considering what kind of $$ i would need to put into it

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read/respond
Brian
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Old July 27th, 2018, 07:33 AM   #2  
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IMHO the better choice is the almost bullet proof 400, unless you are going to do a lot of highway driving, then go with a 4L60 (700 r4).
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Old July 27th, 2018, 08:12 AM   #3  
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IMHO the better choice is the almost bullet proof 400, unless you are going to do a lot of highway driving, then go with a 4L60 (700 r4).
My only push back on that is I don't want to modify and add to the already steep costs...I would need a ECM Module and drive shaft modification and trans cross member modification, + other possibilities...kind of my dilemma as there are lots of Pro's in your suggestion as well

Last edited by Brians1; July 27th, 2018 at 08:15 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2018, 08:34 AM   #4  
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My only push back on that is I don't want to modify and add to the already steep costs...I would need a ECM Module and drive shaft modification and trans cross member modification, + other possibilities...kind of my dilemma as there are lots of Pro's in your suggestion as well
While I prefer the 200-4R to the 700R4, do NOT confuse the non-electronic 4L60 with the electronic 4L60E.
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Old July 27th, 2018, 08:53 AM   #5  
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Joe - was not aware of a non electric version, can you tell me more ?
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Old July 27th, 2018, 08:56 AM   #6  
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Joe - was not aware of a non electric version, can you tell me more ?
It's called a 700R4.

GM just changed their transmission nomenclature about 25 years ago. The TH400 became the 3L80. The 700R4 became the 4L60. The electronically controlled version became the 4L60E.
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Old July 27th, 2018, 08:59 AM   #7  
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To answer your original question, what do you plan to do with the car? You'll spend upwards of $2500 on either the 700R4 or the 200-4R when modified to survive in your application. A TH400 is bulletproof. In all cases you'll need a different driveshaft and new e-brake cables for the front and intermediate cable positions due to the crossmember move.
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Old July 27th, 2018, 10:42 AM   #8  
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A TH400 is bulletproof. In all cases you'll need a different driveshaft and new e-brake cables for the front and intermediate cable positions due to the crossmember move.
And now you see my struggle as I have read about the TH400's....if a TH400 is less hassle than the others, can hold the power and torque, do I go this route for longevity and pice of mine ? is the Cross member a huge deal, or are there ones I can source and just make sure the frame has new holes drilled ?
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Old July 27th, 2018, 11:00 AM   #9  
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N/M - I already know for a TH400 I just move the cross member back - apparently I need more coffee
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Old July 27th, 2018, 11:45 AM   #10  
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N/M - I already know for a TH400 I just move the cross member back - apparently I need more coffee
The 200-4R uses the same crossmember location as the TH400. The 700R4 requires a unique location and new holes. Moving the crossmember requires different e-brake cables. None of this is a big deal. You are waaaay overthinking this. Do you want an OD or not? If not, get a TH400 and don't look back. If you do, prepare to pay to have the OD trans built. The best option strength-wise is a 4L80E, since it really is a TH400 with a built in overdrive, but that requires floor pan mods in addition to the ECU and other custom mods. And since the GearVendors unit will eventually be mentioned, that also requires mods and costs at least as much as a built 200-4R or 700R4
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Old July 27th, 2018, 12:18 PM   #11  
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Thanks Joe - TH400 it is ! Any particular year or casting range I should look for?
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Old July 28th, 2018, 06:36 AM   #12  
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Joe, my understanding is the 4L80E will fit the 68 and up Cutlass but is tight but requires a shortened drive shaft, computer or manual control and a more expensive torque converter, I am seriously considering this myself. The 2004R is bolt in but requires $2000 in nearly parts alone. You do have a guy that knows the 2004R very well in Florida, Dan Mascal. He has built them for cars running 9's in the 1/4. The 700R4/4L60E is no prize and a waste of time behind your torque levels, Dan is one of many who agrees they are not so great. If you have or 3.42 gearing or deeper gearing consider an od trans if you are planning long drives. I believe the short shaft BOP pattern TH400 is your best bet on a Cutlass, it may just need a 32 spline yoke and the cross member moved back. If you keep your stock gears, the TH400 is a no brainer.

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Old July 28th, 2018, 06:40 AM   #13  
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Joe, my understanding is the 4L80E will fit the 68 and up Cutlass but is tight but requires a shortened drive shaft, computer or manual control and a more expensive torque converter, I am seriously considering this myself. The 2004R is bolt in but requires $2000 in nearly parts alone. The 700R4/4L60E is no prize and a waste of time behind your torque levels. If you have or 3.42 gearing or deeper gearing consider an od trans if you are planning long drives. I believe the short shaft BOP pattern TH400 is your best bet on a Cutlass, it may just need a 32 spline yoke and the cross member moved back.
You may be right about the 4L80E. I've just looked at some Chevelle installations, even into 64-67 cars, that only required some local massaging of the tunnel to clear.
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Old July 28th, 2018, 07:34 AM   #14  
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It somewhat depends on maturity and abuse. The 2004r is a great tranny for cruising, but constant abuse will destroy it like most transmissions. The 400 will take a whole lot of abuse, when built right, and can be a real beast with a manual shift valve body slamming each gear breaking the tires lose on each manual shift. But a ***** cat when letting up before shifting, like with a 4 speed.

It depends on maturity and what out come you want. Burn outs and showing off for people who do not matter then I would say the 400 with sprag and good clutches and a manual shift valve body. But if walk softly and carrying a big stick, with nothing to prove, then the built 2004r with the billet pieces should do fine. It all depends.

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Old July 28th, 2018, 07:41 AM   #15  
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Awesome - thanks gentlemen. There are a couple of TH400’s on Craigslist here locally, going to see if any are short tail and BOP.
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Old July 28th, 2018, 08:49 AM   #16  
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The ďbestĒ 400 trans were built between 68-71. In early69 Hydromatic modified the center support by machining it .040 thinner, and adding a snap ring the same thickness between the case and center support. This prevented the center support from wearing the case. In 71 Hydromatic changed the direct drum from a smooth race sprag style to a weaker roller clutch with a ramped race. In the mid 70s Hydromatic started using stamped steel pistons instead of cast aluminum. They also started to use plastic thrust washers instead of brass. There were other minor design changes over the years.

The later center supports and early style 4L80 center supports (non center lube models) will interchange with any 400 case. The 4L80 direct drum uses the good esrly drum with the smooth sprag race. That drum will either have the 34 element sprag factory depending on model year, or can be upgraded to a aftermarket 34 element sprag. The early aluminum pistons are preferred, I wonít use stamped steel pistons in any 400 other than a stone stock rebuild. They are pretty flimsy and distort under increased line pressure. The direct drum piston with bonded seal from a 4L80 will fit either the forward or direct drum and is preferred if a aluminum piston canít be found. The aluminum pistons are getting hard to find. You will need to use the 4L80 return springs with the bonded pistons in either drum.

The 4L80 forward clutch hub in the forward drum is steel, and much stronger than the 400 part, all 400 use a powdered steel hub that is know to break in higher powered cars. You can upgrade the 400 3 friction intermediate clutch to the 4L80 4 friction setup by using the 4l80 thin steels and early backing plate. Use a Chrysler front/rear clutch snap ring to a Dutch clutch clearance to about .060Ē, the Chrysler snap ring is much more rigid and comes on various thickness to set clutch clearance. This is the same snap ring that is included in the TransGo shift kits.


There are other little tips and tricks to building a bulletproof 400, this covers most of the big issues. These tops with the right valve body will reliably handle 1000hp easy.

Last edited by matt69olds; July 28th, 2018 at 08:52 AM.
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Old July 28th, 2018, 08:51 AM   #17  
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Thank you ! More I didn’t know
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Old July 28th, 2018, 09:43 AM   #18  
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I was told, by a smart racer and Oldsmobile mechanic back then, that the first year the 400 came out were the best GM made, as far as parts and longevity. They were overbuilt and lasting way too long, and then GM downgraded them in the years afterwards.

In 1970 or 71, I got a special one from B&M, after blowing up a stock one and a number of M22s, and their Street strip model. It had the sprag, and what they called their funny car clutches at the time, and a full manual reverse throttle body. It was a real piece of work, that lasted me and the guy I eventually sold that car too, and the guy he sold it too, until a cooler line sprung a leak, and burned it up.

A few decades later I had one built on the cheap for my 455, by a young guy that built all kinds of transmissions for a living. He thought getting the end play right was the secret to getting them to live. He used a shift kit and probably the sprag, but with no passing gear mechanism installed. I used a 3000 stall B&M race converter with it. It lasted me for decades on the street, but had an annoying habit of shifting violently hard, from first to second when trying to easy over speed bumps or going real slow in parking lots. Full throttle and the rest of the shifts were much milder. It also would not hold first past the govenor's shift point of 3800. The 3000 stall grew old over the years though it never failed.

It doesn't take much for them to take serious power on the street be it a BBC or BBO. Thats what I know and have experienced. I do not build them though. I read, hear, and observe, plus my experiences I have had with them.









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Old July 28th, 2018, 10:26 AM   #19  
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I bought a Stage 1 200r4 from http://extremeautomatics.com/th2004R.php. I have about 15000 miles on it now and love it. I am running 3:42 gears and frequently Drive long distance on interstate. There is some great info on this site. Step by step how to set up the TV cable etc.
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Old July 28th, 2018, 10:37 AM   #20  
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I just got off the phone with a guy locally who has a short tail turbo 400 he took out of a Chevy truck that was mated to a 454 . Have to show my ignorance here will this work by simply changing up the bell housing to a BOP? The cost is negotiable starting at 300 he says it ran before he took it out nice red fluid no burnt fluid no burnt smell
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Old July 28th, 2018, 12:52 PM   #21  
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The bellhousing is part of the case, you canít swap them. BOP 400 trans are easy to find, unless the Chevy trans is cheap donít bother. You can convert a long shaft trans to a short shaft by swapping output shafts and extension housings.

I mentioned in in my earlier post about the best year transcto look for, there is a thin metal tag riveted to the case on the passenger side. Assuming it didnít get torn off in a previous repair it will have a 2 digit year followed by a 2 letter code. B,O, and P obviously mean Buick,Olds or Pontiac, C is Chevy, K is Cadillac. The letter code is the application the trans was built and calibrated for.

One more mandatory modificatiion I forgot to mention, the early 400 have a small freeze plug with a orifice in the intermediate shaft. After 1069 ( I think) Hydromatic eliminated the plug to increase the amount of lube the gearsets receive. Some early transmissions had problems with gearset failure in severe duty. The plug is easily knocked out with a peice of all thread.

Its easy to remove the automatic updhift intp 2nd gear with the shifter in first. All that is required is to grind a couple flat spots on the largest land of the 1-2 shift valve, and to tap the vent hole in the top of the valve body and block it with a 1/4 set screw. Make sure the valve still moves freely in the bore when itís all assembled. Be warned, if you move the shifter to 1st gear at 80mph, itís going into 1st gear!!!
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Old July 28th, 2018, 01:22 PM   #22  
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Here is the tag of what he has ...

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Old July 28th, 2018, 01:50 PM   #23  
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"9TPA 6" is what is on the top
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Old July 28th, 2018, 07:19 PM   #24  
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A 200r4 is not cheap now. Don’t be fooled for what you see on ebay. Cores are extinct.
Many builders don’t do them anymore. Good if you can find a BRF core.
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Old July 29th, 2018, 06:14 AM   #25  
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Thank again gentlemen... I don’t need my transmission overnight so I have plenty time to keep searching, when I do find a solid BOP Th400 I will respond back to this thread with images and some direction from you guys on what to do with it.

Have a great rest of your weekends!
Brian
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Old July 31st, 2018, 10:35 AM   #26  
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gents - got a new lead on a TH400 about 1 hour south of me for 150 bucks...says it ran before it was pulled but recommends overhauling it...here is the Tag...decent ?

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Old July 31st, 2018, 10:46 AM   #27  
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PS 69 is a 1969 Pontiac TH400 used behind a 350H.O. motor. I'm not that familiar with Pontiac applications. This might actually be a light duty TH375. Check the output shaft. If the yoke from a Jetaway or TH350 fits, it is the light duty unit - keep looking.
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Old July 31st, 2018, 10:50 AM   #28  
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gents - got a new lead on a TH400 about 1 hour south of me for 150 bucks...says it ran before it was pulled but recommends overhauling it...here is the Tag...decent ?
"it ran before it was pulled" means it would move the car or truck it was in, if it was pulled recently. You are better off having whatever you buy overhauled.
.......Just my two cents worth


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Old July 31st, 2018, 11:16 AM   #29  
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I just emailed the gentleman back and asked him to verify if he see's this on the tail: "375-THM" designation cast in the underside of the tail housing."

*** Ralph - yes I will rebuild no matter what ***
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Old July 31st, 2018, 01:02 PM   #30  
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I got some additional phots and this comment as well... "I took it the transmission out of a 1969 Firebird. I don’t know if it was the original or not but it was hanging off a 350 engine. The motor code leads to a 1970 Tempest. Here is a bunch of pics to help you out. I don’t see those casting you are referring to. "

so regular TH400 or the Th375 ? I assume Th400 since no casting to indicate the Th375.,....but I am just making an assumption...





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Old July 31st, 2018, 06:25 PM   #31  
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That looks to be a good core. Assuming nobody swapped it during a previous overhaul that should have the hood desirable drum, the aluminum pistons, and depending on how late it is in the model year already have the updated center support.
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Old July 31st, 2018, 07:31 PM   #32  
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That looks to be a good core. Assuming nobody swapped it during a previous overhaul that should have the hood desirable drum, the aluminum pistons, and depending on how late it is in the model year already have the updated center support.
Thank you
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Old August 1st, 2018, 10:25 AM   #33  
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Brian,

I ditto on what the others have said. I've never done the swap to the other trans's, but from what I've been told 200r4 is easiest, but 4L80 would be best OD trans for taking abuse. It would require special aftermarket controller being electronic, but are out there. It's longer so drive shaft and cross member issues too. The 700's can be built fairly tough, but the torque kills them. They are limited because of case, and size of input\output shafts.

Looks like you have a 400 and that's likely the easiest and most economical approach. I'll buy that stock pan off that 400 if your not going to use it.
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Old August 1st, 2018, 10:49 AM   #34  
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Thanks - i’m driving down Saturday morning early to take a look and possibly buy it
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Old August 3rd, 2018, 04:04 AM   #35  
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The 4L80E is the way to go.
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Old August 4th, 2018, 04:12 PM   #36  
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Hey guys I drove down this morning and picked up that TH400, it was in great shape... nice red fluid no burnt smell. I also got to see the 69 Firebird it came out of, the owners putting an LS3 in instead
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Old August 4th, 2018, 04:15 PM   #37  
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Great to hear.
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Old August 5th, 2018, 07:32 AM   #38  
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Great to hear.
Yes, except the part of an LS going into a Pontiac
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Old August 5th, 2018, 08:28 AM   #39  
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Nice! Again if your not planning on using the stock pan, let me know.
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Old August 5th, 2018, 08:47 AM   #40  
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Yes, except the part of an LS going into a Pontiac
Well, my 455 doesn't sit in an Oldsmobile either, and I really didn't notice or even really care about the part with the LS. There wouldn't even be many an Oldsmobile engine, parts or bodies today, if people thought that way. The same for Pontiac and many other brands. GM certainly didn't even think that way either or Oldsmobile.

I am not a fan of the LS motors either, because I don't know much about them as they are rather foreign to me, because they are a later design after I was so active in building anything, and nothing from my past. But my younger friends tell me they are cheaper than dirt, plentiful, powerful, and well designed and made.
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