By: Taylor Vlahos
Photography: Taylor Vlahos
Reprint from Hot Rod Magazine, January 2003
Here is the kit we used on the General Lee’s 727 TorqueFlite, PN 3D0727 for ’60s and ’70s cars and trucks. It cost $2,195 and was well worth it. Gear Vendors has kits to fit just about every common three or four-speed automatic and four-speed manual. Each kit has everything you’ll need to complete the installation.
John Schneider, the guy who played Bo Duke on the hit TV series Dukes of Hazzard, has decided to take his General Lee back to it rebel-yelling, Dixie-blastin’ passion-breaking through Boss Hogg’s speed traps out on the open highway for Nevada’s 90-mile road race, the Silver State Classic Challenge coming up this May. John wanted to keep his 4.10:1 gears to get his Hemi-powered General off the line, but he also needed to cruise above 70 without buzzing his brains out. The answer was Gear Vendors.
This isn’t your average wimpy-weak over-drive tranny substitute. No, no. This is like a supercharger for your transmission.
It is a supplemental, planetary-gear transmission that replaces the extension housing of your existing automatic or manual tranny (i.e., it’s a bolt-on goodie). This allows you to keep that bulletproof 727 (Gear Vendors has units for virtually every transmission application you can think of) and not only add an overdrive gear, but actually split your existing gears. So the system goes, First, First Over, Second, Second Over, Third, and Third Over. Your three-speed becomes a six-speed. Your four speed an eight-speed. Gear Vendors provides your trans with an extra 0.788:1 gear that can be kicked in at any time. With the push of a button you can reduce your engine rpm by 22 percent or increase your mph by 28 percent (at
The factory extension housing is directly replaced with the Gear Vendors housing. It bolts up with no modifications Although
there is no cutting or welding, the reinforcement rib in the tunnel needed a little massaging to clear the right-angle
speedo drive. A little 3-pound hammer or short sledgehammer works best to whack it back about 1/4 inch.
any given rpm). This gear-splitting allows you to go faster than ever before because it keeps you in the powerband, whereas a traditional setup can drop your rpm far below your power peak. Just imagine your Second-to-Third shift with a set of 4.10:1 gears. If you shift our of Second gear at 6,000, Third gear comes in around 4,100 rpm, a little below your peak torque, which can slow you down. With Gear Vendors, you’d shift out of Second gear at 6,000, but instead of shifting directly into Third,
o you’d shift into Second Over, putting your rpm in a healthy 4,700 sweet spot. Perfect for pulling the last bit of horsepower out of your quarter-mile e.t.
And don’t forget blasting down the highway, Silver State style. With Gear Vendors, you can go 28 percent faster with the 0.78:1 overdrive. So instead of 65 mph at 3,000 rpm, you can cruise 83 mph at 3,000 rpm. Gear Vendors, is guaranteed for two years even with 1,200hp daily
dragstrip torture. They’re tough stuff, and a bit pricey at around $2,200. But keep in mind that you’ll enjoy your car twice as much, go faster, save gas, and help preserve your engine life by making it work less. An with the easy do-it-yourself installation (seriously, no cutting or welding), it’s a total bang-for-your-buck bargain. Follow along our typical Mopar B-Body installation, or ask John Schneider-that is, if you have better luck catching him than Roscoe and Enos. HR
After the coupler endplay is adjusted with a straightedge and shims, the overdirve is bolted on.
The driveshaft has to be shortened to fit with the longer Gear Vendors extension housing. Measuring for the driveshaft length is simple and covered well by the instruction manual.
The speedo cable screws right to the factory system. And the signal generator shuts the overdrive off when you come to a stop, even if you forget while in the “manual” mode.
Electronics allow both automatic and manual functions. The GV kit comes with either a floor-mounted switch for column shifters or a B&M handle with shift button for floor-mounted shifters.
Now Bo’s General Lee has six forward gears, making it a much better contender in the Silver State Classic. It has the performance of close ratios with half the time spent in each gear during acceleration romps, and a final drive ratio in overdrive for some awesome top-speed straightaways.
El Cajon, CA: 800/999-9555
Silver State Classing Challenge