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1941 Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic Drive


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Like I pointed out in the stick-shift cars thread in General- Cadillac and especially Oldsmobile pushed HydraMatic hard. Oldsmobile was justifiably proud of their automatically shifting gearbox.

I still have trouble understanding why HydraMatic was good enough for Cadillac, Lincoln, and even Rolls-Royce, but not good enough for Buick. Oh, I forget- it wasn't designed or built in Flint...:rolleyes:

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hi glenn, the hydra-matic story is a very interesting one, originally a buick idea that GM handed to oldsmobile, some influences from the safety transmission project. GM's president alfred p. sloan pushed for internal competition between divisions, with cadillac being content to let oldsmobile being the testing division of new things, that if they didn't work out, cadillac's status of being the standard of the world, wasn't harmed. that internal competition is why there were three different approaches to the automatic transmission concept, hydra-matic, dynaflow, and powerglide. i don't think that buick was happy with the shifting up or down of the hydra-matics, and wanted something much smoother, thus the idea behind dynaflow. the strength of the hydra-matic and it's low slippage fluid coupling, which was great on fuel mileage didn't hurt it's appeal to brands outside of GM. i never quite saw why GM let buick and chevy go on so long using the closed driveline set up. it was a good thing that before the production of 1953 - 1954 pontiacs and chevies, that they agreed on sharing the same transmission floor hump, the powerglide required a larger floor hump than the hydra-matic did, for when the hydra-matic plant burnt in august of 1953, pontiac had to adapt to using the powerglide for three months until the new plant location was supplying hydra-matics again. cadillac of course adapted to using the buick's dynaflow, oldsmobile it seems was least affected by the plant's fire, having almost enough hydra-matics to fill orders for those three months. by 1955, five different V8 engine designs, three automatic transmission designs, two different driveline designs, all under one big GM roof. i have owned all three automatics, 1962 chevy impala, 1953 pontiac chieftain, and a 1958 buick roadmaster 75, i like the dual range hydra-matic.

charles l. coker

1953 pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

poci

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hi glenn, the hydra-matic story is a very interesting one, originally a buick idea that GM handed to oldsmobile, some influences from the safety transmission project. GM's president alfred p. sloan pushed for internal competition between divisions, with cadillac being content to let oldsmobile being the testing division of new things, that if they didn't work out, cadillac's status of being the standard of the world, wasn't harmed. that internal competition is why there were three different approaches to the automatic transmission concept, hydra-matic, dynaflow, and powerglide. i don't think that buick was happy with the shifting up or down of the hydra-matics, and wanted something much smoother, thus the idea behind dynaflow. the strength of the hydra-matic and it's low slippage fluid coupling, which was great on fuel mileage didn't hurt it's appeal to brands outside of GM. i never quite saw why GM let buick and chevy go on so long using the closed driveline set up. it was a good thing that before the production of 1953 - 1954 pontiacs and chevies, that they agreed on sharing the same transmission floor hump, the powerglide required a larger floor hump than the hydra-matic did, for when the hydra-matic plant burnt in august of 1953, pontiac had to adapt to using the powerglide for three months until the new plant location was supplying hydra-matics again. cadillac of course adapted to using the buick's dynaflow, oldsmobile it seems was least affected by the plant's fire, having almost enough hydra-matics to fill orders for those three months. by 1955, five different V8 engine designs, three automatic transmission designs, two different driveline designs, all under one big GM roof. i have owned all three automatics, 1962 chevy impala, 1953 pontiac chieftain, and a 1958 buick roadmaster 75, i like the dual range hydra-matic.

charles l. coker

1953 pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

poci

Hey Charles, just a fyi on that Livonia plant fire. Pontiac didn't adapt the Power Glide to Pontiac flathead engine in 1953. Pontiac of Canada had been using Power-Glide behind the flathead Pontiac engine since I believe 1950. The tooling was already done so it was a no brainer to convert to Powerglide.

Also Powerglide had gone through two versions by 1955. You might remember that the original Powerglide (1950) started off in high gear in the drive position ( like Dynaflow ) and later was modified ( 1952 ) to change from low to high in drive.

Charlie Chayne, of Buick engineering and Ed Cole of Chevrolet wanted a seamless transmission ( no shifting ) torque converter doing all the ratio changing for the drive ranges. Chayne and his engineers called HydraMatic Hydra-Jerk.. especially the 1-2 shift. ( funny that all us racers wanted the all the Hydramatic's to shift hard like that for two reasons. 1. less wear on clutches and bands and 2. better efficiency for racing or mileage. The first thing we did on a new car was modify the shift harshness!

It's a misconception that Oldsmobile was the testing division because all the divisions had their hand in innovations. Innovations from Buick such as rear coil springs and flex spoke steering wheels (1938) directional signals (1939 ), under seat fresh air heater (1940 ), multiple carburetion ( 1941), step on parking brake and wide rim wheels (1942), Power seat adjustments (1946), Dynaflow (1948), tinted windshield glass (1950), Turbo HydraMatic or ST400, ...these are all Buick first.

Cadillac had many as well such as the pioneer of multi cylinder motor cars ( 1905), Dewar trophy for being the first car to achieve interchangeability through standardization of parts ( 1908 ). The first car to use electric self starting ( 1912). First car to be offered with a V-8 type water cooled engine ( 1915). First manufacturer to install safety plate glass and synchromesh transmission ( 1928 ). First manufacturer to build a sixteen cylinder engine (1930). First standard equipped power steering on entire line of cars (1954 ). First to develop automatic temperature control heating and air conditioning for autos (1964). first to introduce tilt and telescoping steering wheels ( 1965). First to introduce variable ratio power steering (1966). Largest production car engine 500" 8.2L ( 1970). First U.S. production car to be equipped with EFI using a analog computer (1975). First using digital computerization using a microprocessor (1978). First in using Digital electronic fuel injection, including self diagnosis and microprocessor controls (1980). First automaker use multiplex wiring to control external lighting on a production car (1987).

With Pontiac, there are too many to list all, but a few are: first to have heater/A/C units all under the hood of a car (1954). First to use reverse flow cooling on a production engine (1955) First to invent and put into use independent ball rocker arm valve train technology (1955). First U.S. production car to use fully independent four wheel suspension with a transaxle in the rear and engine in front with a flexible driveshaft connecting them (1961). First car to use hideaway wiper arm/articulated wiper arms (1967) First car to use a fiberglass reinforced timing chain on a first use in U.S. production OHC six cylinder engine with hydraulic lash adjustment (1966). First production car using Endura body color energy absorbing front bumpers (1968).

When we break into the 80's divisions were just a shell of what they were in the past, for instance all engines transmissions and third members come from GM powertrain. In other words all the divisions become corporate cars and loose their identity or brand image and this translates into lost sales.

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
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