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.