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October 2019

Hottest New Products for Muscle Car Enthusiasts

Hottest New Products for Muscle Car Enthusiasts - Gearstar Performance Transmissions

The hottest new products for muscle car enthusiasts have been designed to amplify every aspect of the car. You can rely on the expertise of numerous car manufacturers and designers to deliver a product that improves the level of performance or aesthetic appeal of your ride. What’s more, they can also serve as unique gifts for car lovers who are always on the lookout for what’s in trend.

New Products for Muscle Car Enthusiasts

Some of the latest products for muscle car enthusiasts are:

1. LS Side Pipe Headers

The new LS side pipe headers from Detroit Speed, Inc. are designed for LS engines, specifically in the 1968-1982 Corvette. Muscle car enthusiasts will love these headers due to their maximum ground clearance, cleaner engine compartment appearance, and high performance.

According to the product’s developer, the headers are durable, attractive, and their installation is quite easy. The LS side pipe headers can be paired with C3 Corvettes, and they were designed to specifically fit Detroit Speed’s SpeedRay front suspension installations. Specifications include:

    • Stainless steel design
    • Hand welded by Pro Fabrication
    • 1 7/8-inch primary tube diameter
    • 4-way merge collectors

Complete your Corvette’s exhaust by pairing the LS side pipe headers with Hooker stainless steel side tubes.

2. T-56 All-in-One Harness

The T-56 transmission all-in-one harness is useful to car enthusiasts owning vehicles equipped with a Tremec T-56 Magnum transmission, a six-speed manual transmission used in cars produced by Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Dodge. The Tremec T-56 Magnum transmission has 3 electronic connections that are used to control the car’s reverse lockout, reverse lights, and speedometer output.

However, there is no convenient way to connect the reverse lockout. Manipulations carried out by car enthusiasts to create this connection often leads to premature wear on the reverse lockout solenoid. This problem can be avoided with the all-in-one harness, which serves as a beneficial complement to Classic Instruments’ electronic speedometer in the T-56 transmission. This easy to install harness offers proper OE functionality for the reverse lockout, a reverse light connection, and a VSS signal.

3. Emblematic

The 1968 Chevy II and the 1968 -1972 Nova also have something new to work with, and that’s all new trunk lid emblems released by Classic Industries. These trunk emblems are officially licensed GM Restoration parts; meaning they are of high quality and can be used to give your car’s rear a fresh look. The emblems are made of high quality die-cast materials, featuring black satin accents and factory markings that showcase their authentic appearance.

4. Vintage-Style Valve Covers

1958-86 Small Block Chevy engines manufactured with perimeter bolt patterns can have a revamped look with the new vintage Series valve covers released by Holley. These valve covers are 3.3″ tall with pre-installed internal oil baffles, and are made from die-cast aluminum.

Holley’s covers reduce the risk of oil leaks and warping of the valve cover flange while adding detail to the motor’s looks. These valve covers are available in different finishes including:

    • Gloss red
    • Natural cast
    • Polished
    • Satin black with machined fins
    • Factory orange with machined fins

Stock valve covers have unappealing style and offer minimal performance. Holley’s covers are an improvement on factory offerings and are equipped with coil-on-cover ignition technology, improving your Chevy’s performance.

5. Strong S-Series

The Strong S-Series by Strange Engineering is made from a high tensile strength nodular iron that is designed for hard-core street and track applications. The nodular iron case was crafted to offer increased strength, attested by its reinforced tail bearing, nodular iron caps, and radial rib design.

The product can be used in conjunction with Posi units, helical differentials, and also a spool given its level of reinforcement that offers enhanced rigidity. On the same note, the nodular iron case offers a Daytona pinion support and a wide selection of a street gear.

6. Book on COPO History

COPO muscle cars, including the Nova, Camaro, Chevelle, Vega, and Corvair are decades old (the 1960s and early 1970s), however, these are legendary performance vehicles manufactured by GM. COPO stands for “Central Office Production Order,” and the concept was created as a loophole for car manufactures to produce and sell high performance vehicles to the general public.

Many popular GM muscle cars have originated from these American, industry shaping vehicles. Given the immense popularity of these beasts, a book titled “COPO Camaro, Chevelle & Nova” has been written specifically to provide details on COPO muscle cars.

The book includes narratives from GM executives, original owners of these cars, repair technicians, among others. If you’re a die-hard fan of COPO muscle cars like the Camaro, Chevelle, or Nova, or you’re interested to learn about where it all began, then this book is for you.

7. Drop-Down Battery Boxes

Batteries can now be placed in drop-down battery boxes that help to distribute the car’s weight evenly. Another advantage of installing one of these boxes is that the engine compartment is less cluttered and now provides the opportunity for an auxiliary or main battery to be added.

If there is insufficient space in your trunk to support a battery, or you’d rather not have one sitting in it, use a drop-down box to mount your battery under the floor of your vehicle. These boxes provide easier to access the battery, making installations or replacements simple.

Drop-down battery boxes are commonly produced with black powder-coated steel designs, but stainless steel options are available. Most standard-sized battery sizes will fit into the specified internal dimensions of 10.5 by 7 by 9.5 inches (LxWxH).

8. Painless Pro Series Chassis Harnesses

The Painless Pro-Series chassis harness provides you with tools necessary for turning your custom routed wiring into a direct fit for your build. Each Pro-Series harness comes equipped with ample length wiring, giving you the flexibility of routing and hiding wires specific to your needs.

Painless Performance Products offers the chassis harnesses in two size, the smaller 12 fuse block controlling 23 circuits or, the larger 18 fuse block controlling 25 circuits. Each kit includes heat shrink, insulated and non-insulated butt splices, cable ties and cable tie clips.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the newest products for muscle car enthusiasts looking to improve their car’s performance and appearance. These products can make your ride unique and stand out from every other muscle car out there. Hence, you need to be among one of the first to take advantage of these products to ensure that your car is revamped from the traditional muscle car.

Overview of the 4L85E Transmission

Overview of the 4L85E Transmission - Gearstar Performance

The 4L85E transmission is a series of an automatic transmission from General Motors. It is also popular since it is a heavy-duty transmission that was improved upon to make it handle more torque and impact driving.

What’s more, it may be over a decade since it was launched, but its solid build makes it a contender with older transmissions. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that car enthusiasts are continually looking for ways to upgrade their transmission to be even better.

Here’s an overview of the 4L85E transmission that informs you of its specification, differences from other series, problems, and improvements.



The 4L85E is a 4-speed automatic transmission that was launched by General Motors in 2002. Like the 4L80E transmission, it was an upgrade to the TH400 three-speed transmission from GM.

Hence, it can be considered as a TH400 with overdrive, a lockup torque converter, as well as advanced electronic controls. However, the 4L85E can handle more torque (460 lb-ft of torque) than the 4L80E transmission.

It has been rated to handle vehicles with a GVWR of up to 18,000 lbs and 690 ft·lbf (935 N·m) of torque. As a result of its exceptional strength, this transmission is suitable for drag racing, off-road racing, and even custom street driving.

Some cars that used the 4L85E transmission include heavy-duty GM trucks and vans, and also a classic Chevy with a big-block. Specifically, these cars were:

    • Rally Fighter
    • GMC Yukon XL
    • Chevy Suburban
    • Chevrolet Avalanche
    • GMC Savana with Duramax Diesel
    • Chevrolet Express with Duramax Diesel

For this reason, the 4L85E can be used for large vehicles that are meant for off-roading or heavy-duty transporting.


4L80E vs. 4L85E

There are several differences between the 4L80E and 4L85E transmission, even though these were upgrades to the TH400. The popularity and strength of the TH400 may have rubbed off on the 4L85E, but it still brought something unique to the table.

Some of these differences include:

    • The 4L85E transmission is rated up to 460 lb-ft, but the 4L80E is rated up to 440 lb-ft.
    • The 4L85E transmission featured a five-pinion reaction gearset and a five-pinion output gearset.

Some parts that were improved in the 4L85E were:

    • Input and reaction carriers.
    • Improved overdrive planet and drum.


4L85E vs. TH400

Like the 4L80E, there are also differences between the 4L85E and the TH400 transmission. Notable among these is its physical appearance.

Here’s what it looks like:

    • The 4L85E is 26.25 inches longer than the TH400.
    • The 4L85E is also bigger than the TH400, which is evident in the length and size of the pan.
    • Despite its large size, the 4L85E is also easy to fit into a car, and even easier than the 4L60E series of transmissions.



Despite the huge improvements in the 4L85E transmission, there are still specific problems that have been reported by users of this transmission. Notable among this is the case of slipping or not syncing on time when the transmission is placed in drive.

The problem is also evident when trying to move from 1st to 2nd gear or 2nd to 3rd gear, since more time may be taken to respond – It’s the case when it takes twice the time to shift to gear. On the other hand, slipping can lead to overheating, which can cause the transmission to burn.

The damage can be so severe that it would be difficult to rebuild the transmission. Alternatively, the 4L85E can notify you of a slip when there is an increase in the variable pump pressure. As the transmission wears, this pump pressure is increased, and as such, slipping may not occur until the transmission fails.

Over and above that, there’s a reported case of the wire harness for the trans cracking, and thereby allowing transmission fluid to enter the connector end. The latter results in a short, which is noticeable when doing hills/grades.



The 4L85E transmission may offer considerable strength, but some improvements can be made to it in order to increase its performance: For starters, the transmission cooler using its own electric fan can be installed in the transmission in a bid to promote good airflow.

Similarly, a shift improver kit can be used to improve the 4L85E transmission. What this kit does is to:

    • Give the driver more control of their vehicle.
    • Decrease the transmission of internal line pressure.
    • Decrease the time required for the clutch and bands to engage. And in return, heat and wear are reduced during off-roading.

These aside, GM has made an improvement to the 4L85E and now, there is the SuperMatic 4L85E transmission as is evident in the Chevrolet cars.



The SuperMatic 4L85E transmission is an improved version of the 4L85E and as such, it is also a heavy-duty transmission. This variant, however, has unique differences that set it aside from the 4L85E.

For instance, it features an additional heavy-duty clutch plate and has revised valve body calibration as well as increased fluid pressure. The gear ratios of this transmission are 2.48, 1.48, 1.00, and .075 for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears respectively.

In comparison to the 4L85E, its gear ratios are 2.48, 1.48, 1.00, 0.75, and 2.07, from First through Reverse. On the other hand, the SuperMatic 4L85E transmission is suitable for Gen I small blocks and all big blocks.



An overview of the 4L85E transmission shows that it is also one of the most reliable GM overdrive transmissions. It can handle more torque than what is rated on paper, which makes it suitable for off-roading, and generally, vehicles that will need to handle a lot of impacts.

What’s more, it boasts of the same power as the TH400 and 4L85E and takes it one step further to be a good variant among the trio. The features of the 4L85E transmission can best be appreciated by comparing it with a range of series transmission that was launched before it.

We’ve covered this and many more in our overview; hence you can make the decision on which to settle for among a range of options.

Shifting Into Overdrive With Performance Automatic

Regular vs performance transmissions

Many transmissions in the past may have been designed without an overdrive, but this is not the case with modern transmissions. The reason is because of the benefits an overdrive has in a car, ranging from driveability to fuel mileage. As such, transmissions with an overdrive such as Ford’s AODE/4R70W and the 6R80 transmissions as well as GM’s 4L60E, 4L70E, 4L80E have gained popularity of late.

Similarly, the smooth roads we have these days encourage people to speed up, and automakers saw a need to ensure that the gearing can handle higher speeds without frictional wear at the rear. On the other hand, we’ve detailed how a shift into overdrive with performance automatic works.



The highest gear that can be shifted to in the transmission of an automatic is called overdrive. Also, an overdrive describes a car’s movement at a sustained speed, which reduces its engine revolutions per minute (RPM). It’s worth noting that the overdrive can be activated with the press on a single button that moves the transmission to its highest gear and then downshifted through other gears.



So, what does overdrive mean in an automatic car? For starters, a modern electronic overdrive transmission comes with the promise of better fuel economy and driveability. In the aspect of fuel economy, your car will make the most of its generated power, which is why you can get more miles (as high as 50 miles) than the usual 150 miles on a full tank, and that can add up significantly in the long run.

What’s more, better power management enables the car’s output speed to be faster than its input speed. To that effect, even cars that were never built with an overdrive can have one today, which helps to keep them longer on the road.

The latter has been one of the reasons why the GM transmissions, including the 4L60E, 4L70E, and 4L80E, have been beefed up with an overdrive. An overdrive also helps to lower noise and wear while maintaining a single speed. What’s more, a lower RPM being maintained puts less strain on the engine.



Performance automatic (PA) is a transmission shop that offers C4 transmission builds as well as AOD and AODE/4R70W transmission builds for racers. The company has been in operation for over 36 years, and as such, it has made quite a name for itself among car enthusiasts.

Specifically, it knows a thing or two about performance transmissions for muscle cars, hot rods, and race cars. Some popular parts from PA include its servos, trans brake valve bodies, hardened shafts, and pro-fit bellhousings. PA has also been designing its Street Smart Packages featuring transmissions, converters, dipsticks, and transmission mounts for GM, Ford, and Chrysler cars.

It’s electronic-overdrive transmissions, on the other hand, come with a transmission controller that enables the driver to select and make modifications to certain functions of the transmission. Thus, there is no need to return to the shop to have these functions checked.



There’s the choice of choosing between a 3-speed automatic or a 4-speed manual in racing applications; however, there are certain advantages an automatic has over the later. Some of these include:

1. Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmissions

Modern automatic transmissions are electronically controlled. As such, a computer can be used to control shift points, shift aggressiveness, as well as the shift firmness. The ability to take control electronically makes a full rebuild unnecessary if the driver has a change in preference.

2. Faster Shifting With an Automatic Transmission

Manual transmissions require that you shift between gears yourself, and despite how fast you think you are, modern automatic transmissions can beat you to it. The reason is not farfetched since automatics have been built to shift faster than even a human. As a consequence, it enables you to move from one gear to the other faster and seamlessly while accelerating down the track.

3. Performance Builds With a Transbrake

Performance builds that can support up to 1000 horsepower and more, have made automatic transmissions a better choice in a performance car. Such a car can become a real race car or muscle car just by adding a transbrake to the automatic.

What this transbrake does is to enable the driver to build RPM by releasing the transbrake, which helps the car to roll into the power band. On the other hand, the clutch would’ve been released at a high RPM in a bid to get traction, but a transbrake takes away the need to do so.



There has been a growing need for electronic-overdrive transmission and GM transmissions. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the installation of electronic-overdrive transmission has become popular. Nonetheless, these transmissions are still new, and as such, they require additional technical support, including initial tuning settings and wiring questions.



The transmission tunnel already has its gearing and electronics, which makes it needful to create an extra space to install the overdrive in the transmission tunnel. As such, extra attention has to be paid to ensure that the transmission fits into the car.

The latter can be made possible by determining the components that can be cleared in order for the transmission to be mounted on the chassis. In this case, a little adjustment may be required.



Shifting into overdrive with performance automatics can be made easier by relying on a transmission shop that has been at it for years. On the same note, the benefits of overdrive in an automatic transmission cannot be overemphasized.

Hence, your need for a performance car that is a real muscle car or race car with the offer of fuel economy starts with the installation of an overdrive. Many have wondered if it is bad to drive with overdrive off.

Nonetheless, it is recommended that the overdrive switch should be left on always for regular driving. This allows your car to shift into a higher gear if there is a need, irrespective of your selection.

Overview of the 4L80E Transmission

Overview of the 4L80E Transmission - Gearstar Performance

The 4L80E transmission was produced in October 1963 by General motors for longitudinal engine configurations. This transmission is a revamped version of the Turbo-Hydramatic TH400, which is why it does not come as a surprise that it features most of the internal components of the TH 400.

Despite having similar parts and the same strength reputably known for the TH400, the 4L80E transmission takes it one step further to feature a lockup torque converter, overdrive gear, and advanced electronic controls.

We’ve outlined a detailed overview of the 4L80E transmission, its specifications, and what makes it popular in the current year, given that it has been a decade already since its production was discontinued.



The term 4L80E denotes 4-Speed (4), Longitudinally mounted (L), 8000 lbs. vehicle weights for (80), and electronically controlled transmission (E). The ‘E’ means it requires an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) for control and firmness to enable its functionality.

Also, the 4L80E performance transmission was designed for cars up to 16,500 lbs GVWR with towing capacity up to 22,000 LBS, and whose engine is up to 440 ft. lbs. (597 N·m) of torque. Some cars that used the 4L80E transmission include Chevrolet/GMC pickups, commercial vehicles, and vans.

It was also adopted in Rolls Royce and Bentley vehicles. Specifically, you could find this transmission in GM trucks such as Silverado, Sierra, Suburban, the Hummer H1.



The 4L80E was developed from the TH400, a heavy-duty automatic transmission that neither had a lockup torque converter nor an overdrive. Hence, there was a need for a heavy-duty automatic transmission with an overdrive to be built.

As such, GM took several internal components and designs from the TH400 to build a new transmission it named the 4L80E. Similarly, about 75 percent of the 4L80E’s internal parts could be interchanged in the TH400.

4L80E Features Adopted From the TH400

    • The 4L80E came with a die-cast aluminum case.
    • The rear tailhousing and bellhousing bolt pattern, as well as the flexplate of the TH400, was maintained in the 4L80E.
    • The 4L80E featured a large 32 spline output shaft (even though much stronger) in its various 2wd and 4wd applications.

4L80E vs. TH400

    • The 4L80E featured an overdrive fourth gear which required an extra gearset as well as a longer (1-1/2″) case.
    • The transmission uses electronics to control shift points.
    • The 4L80E transmission is 4 inches longer than the TH400.
    • The rear tailhousing bolt indexing bore diameter was changed on the 4L80E.
    • The 4L80E featured an integrated bellhousing instead of a removable bellhousing of the 4L60E transmission.

Despite these changes and the adoption of features prevalent in older models of the GM automatic transmission, the 4L80E had its problems. Nevertheless, updates were made throughout its production cycle, which has created a more revamped version of the transmission.




    • Length: 26.4″
    • Weight: 236 lbs dry
    • Max Torque: 450nm +/-
    • Fluid Type: DEXRON VI
    • Gears: 3 + 1 Overdrive 30%
    • Fluid Capacity: 13.5 Quarts
    • Pan Gasket/Bolt Pattern: 17 bolt

Gear Ratios

    • First: 2.48
    • Second: 1.48
    • Third: 1.00
    • Fourth: 0.75

Parts List

    • Abbott ERA
    • B&M Holeshot
    • PCS valve body
    • Abbott Cable-X
    • Hughes lockup
    • Monster Street Rage
    • 4L80E extension housing
    • Crossmember ’69 Camaro
    • Crossmember ’66 Chevelle
    • TCI Saturday Night Special



The 4L80E transmission relies on electronic controls from the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). A driver has the option to select shift maps depending on the action such as towing they want to execute.

There is a portion of the PCM’s strategy for shift stabilization, which helps to reduce hunting. On the other hand, a PWM lockup solenoid controls the 4L80E torque converter (in factory mode), and it helps to provide a smooth lockup execution.

Speed Sensing

Two-speed sensors can be found on the 4L80E transmission, and these sensors serve as a turbine input speed and output speed, respectively. The input speed sensor is used to monitor input speeds, which are compared with the engine speed and output shaft sensor speed.

The data obtained is used to adjust the shift speeds depending on the conditions that are instantly detected. It is also worthy to note that there are different placements of the speed signal, and it depends on the year in which the transmission was launched.

For instance, 1991 – 1996 4L80E’s have a speed sensor that is located at the driver’s side rear portion of the case. On the other hand, the 1997 and later 4wd applications may lack the rear sensor.



The 4L80E was designed to be used in the duty range of the 4L60E and the Allison series transmissions – these were transmissions the TH400 had already found use cases in. On the other hand, the 4L80E became more popular in Big Block gas and diesel engines given that Allison transmissions were used in medium-duty class (4000 series) trucks.

Some vehicles which the 4L80E were used include:

    • Chevy Avalanche
    • Chevy C2500 HD
    • Chevy C3500 HD
    • Chevy Express 2500
    • Chevy Express 3500
    • Chevy Express 4500
    • Chevy K2500 Suburban
    • Chevy Silverado 2500 HD
    • Chevy Silverado 3500 HD
    • GMC Savanna 2500
    • GMC Savanna 3500
    • GMC Sierra 2500 HD
    • GMC Sierra 3500 HD



The 4L80E transmission problems include the following:

    • Erratic shifting: The 4L80E had shifting problems as a result of a failed throttle position sensor or input/output speed sensor.
    • Overheating: Transmission fluid helps to remove heat generated from the moving internal components in the transmission. On the other hand, if a heavy load is hauled or towed and the radiator cooler can’t cool the ATF properly, it could lead to overheating of the 4L80E. Consequently, the clutches, valve body, seals, etc can get damaged.



The 4l80E is a big and heavy transmission that has come a long way from years ago due to upgrades. Despite these upgrades, it was built with the durability of the TH400 and a Fourth overdrive gear. As such, it is still a strong contender with modern transmissions – it can also offer better performance if it is rebuilt with the most reliable parts.

Car enthusiasts love it and hold it in high esteem, which was once the case of the TH400. These aside, you too can also take advantage of this transmission to enjoy the experience of the 90s.