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The Evolution of 4x4

If you have been in the auto business long enough you surely remember the original 4x4 which implied a locking transfer case, low range, free wheeling hubs. Ideally you wanted the 4 wheels to be solidly connected in extreme applications.

When you shifted the transfer case to 4 Low were looking for fun/trouble, and hopefully had a few friends in the vehicle with you, and a shovel or two, and perhaps even a winch.

As an aside Toyota has a totally cool off road cruise control for its vehicles that still have a frame and an old fashioned transfer case.

It was more money, raised the vehicle off the ground, added weight, and additional mechanical drag/friction (differential in front, transfer case). At one time every ,manufacturer had a brand name for their 4x4 set up on the premise that one was better than the other.

Pick ups continue to have the classic 4x4 set up, although the transfer case shifter has morphed into a knob in the dash. Much easier to shift than grappling with the old school shifter on the floor.

How did 4x4 evolve into AWD and become so pervasive in Canada?

1- Get rid of the Low range in the transfer case, now its smaller, lighter, and can still power the front wheels, or the rear wheels in a FWD platform. Obvious that by omitting the Low range, the off road/deep snow capabilities have also been removed.

2- Lets use the ABS and Stability technology to control the power at the respective wheels. Instead of a limited slip differential in the rear, the brakes are applied to the spinning wheel to reestablish traction. Agreed it makes for a smooth flow of power to each wheel.

3- Lets get rid of the transfer case (on the premise that there is a differential in the transfer case to compensate for the difference in the front and rear). The technology is keeping everything uniform by applying the brakes as required.

4- No transfer case...what do we do? Simple we need to redirect the power to the front, with a simple lets call it a transfer case with no differential (just a clutch pack just in case). Lets run primarily on 1 axle similar to 2 High, and have the technology decide when the other axle engages and at what rate.





The 4.10 Gears 

A few days ago momentarily watching Barrett Jackson and hearing the 4.10 and some with 4.56 gears it struck us that way back in the day we were pretty limited in our choices while being content.

The healthy engine under the hood was a given.

The transmission choice was usually a 4 speed, the by now famous Muncie Rock Crusher had stouter gears and synchronizers while making a ton of interesting sounds.

Now we come to the gears, if you were seeking top end speed you had a high 2 or a low 3 something in the differential. If you were seeking acceleration you had a 4 something in the differential.

In most cases manufacturers made a choice for you with the various packages of the day. You wanted a drag pack with a smaller displacement engine it was 4.56 gears in the differential, a 4 speed with a lower 1st gear ratio to provide the reduction to generate strong initial acceleration.

Now imagine cruising at 100 KPH taching close to 4,000 RPM with 4.56 gears...what an unpleasant experience.

Back in the day trucks with diesel engines also had 4.11 gears with a 13 speed Fuller RTO 913 Roadranger transmission. With spur cut gears and no synchros...human rev matching was essential.

With all the technology there are still mechanical aspects that have not changed for decades, gear ratios are one of those.

Today's blinding acceleration of cars...put more splits in the transmission while keeping the 4.10 gears or close. The 4 speed has gravitated to 6 and even 7 speed in the Corvette, or 8 or 9 and possibly 10 speed automatics.

Are we getting close to the old RTO 913 in trucks?

In a car you can go either way, bigger engine or more blower, more splits, phenomenal acceleration and speed. The other way is small engine with a blower, more splits, improved acceleration and fuel economy.

Trucks are similar to cars with small engines, you need to "lift the load" similar to acceleration in a car, and power the load down the hghway overcoming wind resistance with exceptional fuel economy.

In both cases the splits in the transmission will keep the engine in the ideal power band, in both cases the car and truck will cruise at 100 KPH at around 1,500 RPM. Perhaps we should give the 4 cylinder with a turbo a few more revs to be on the safe side...or some blinding fast downshifts.

A couple of generation back, if anyone would have hinted that cars would have a similar set up to a truck with an 8V-71 Detroit, RTO 913, 4.11 gears, and start splitting shifts to stay in the power band...we all know the answer to that one.



1971 Citroen DS

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Citroen DS with Jay Leno.





Vroom Room

Good Morning!

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room come in enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Is it the passing of time?

Detroit Auto Show: The Ford GT inspired everyone in a collection of same story different year.

Barrett Jackson: Give them credit for having an enduring show, V16 Cadillacs are cool, 4.10 gears were cool a couple of generations ago. Some cars that sold from the Ron Pratte Collection.

NADA: If you are involved in the auto business you are surely aware of the NADA convention held in San Francisco this year, its another case of the same in a different location.

Really Cheap Gas: If you remember Aramco, you remember truly inexpensive gas with lead to fuel ICE engines, wash parts, kill weeds.

Before we forget tomorrow is the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, yes we remain Corvette fans.

Canadian Economy: If you have been reading our publication for some time you are aware that we never subscribed to the "great recession of 2008/09" for Canada. We often mentioned that many Canadian companies were sitting on mountains of cash, instead of productively making the cash work for Canada. CMS (Citizen Main Street) carried the Canadian economy, empowered by banks. Obvious the folks that should have done something sat on the sidelines and cashed in on the spending of CMS.

We could have a lenghty discussion, lets just say that now we are subscribing to the great Canadian recession of 2015.

Our usual old race cars from the Zandvoort Grand Prix.




The Corvette Dream

If you were riding a bike in the early 1950's like the kid, this video has a deeper resonance...