Tell us if this has ever happened to you: You pull away from the light, wait a moment, then stomp the gas. Right when you're expecting the rpm to soar and the g-force to push you back in the seat, the trans makes a perfect upshift (or two!)—right at 4,000 rpm. In another scenario, you're on the highway behind a slow loser, and you see a break in traffic to pass. You floor it, the engine lugs for an eternity, then begrudgingly gives up one gear instead of the two gears you needed yesterday. To add insult to injury, it quickly upshifts back into overdrive once you get in the passing lane. Ugh. Who's the loser now?
Those tools of convenience we call automatic transmissions have made our driving easy ever since the first Hydramatic two-speed was bolted to an Oldsmobile back in 1939, but as we see in the examples above, they often put performance users at a disadvantage when the chips are down. Now that we've got electronically controlled transmissions like the 4L65, 4L80, 6R80, and the 6L80, it's simply a matter of swapping out your old faithful Turbo 400, C4, AOD, or 700-R4, and bolting in a late-model multi-gear wonder. The cost of doing that, however, can be prohibitive. So is there another answer?
If we face facts, it's likely that you've already spent good money on a transmission you'd otherwise like to keep. Take for instance the four-speed automatic overdrive 700-R4 in Project Laguna. It's a perfect match for the 622hp solid-roller 427ci small-block Chevy in the car, and the 3.73-geared 10-bolt out back. Our trans—which can handle well over 700 hp and has the perfect torque converter already—no need to start from scratch. All we wanted was control over the shifts, so when Powertrain Control Solutions (PCS) told us they had a perfect solution for our powertrain, we asked two questions: How well does it work, and how much is it?
PCS makes the GSM-5000, which basically shifts your existing transmission by brute force through a built-in shift cable on the box. Once programmed, it knows exactly where to find each gear on the transmission within thousandths of an inch, no matter what kind of trans it is. It could be a C6, Powerglide, 727 TorqueFlite, AOD, Turbo 400, or a 700-R4 like ours. It just doesn't care—it could be the trans on your riding mower. You tell it how many gears there are and where they can be found, and let it eat. Better yet, the trans remains untouched internally throughout the process. Getting into the basic push-button version isn't cheap at $1,149, but it's way less expensive (and easier) than swapping your trans and converter for a more expensive electronic trans, converter, and transmission control module. This is way cheaper than that, not to mention more fun. The GSM-5000 will allow you to punch away at the gears sequentially using the push-button controller, holding the engine up to its sweet spot any time you wish. A standard set of "PRND" buttons allows Clark Kent operation for when you're not wishing to deal out the thunder. (Of course, if you'd rather go the high-tech electronically controlled route, PCS has you covered with a multitude of products, including its Simple Shift electronic controller, which takes the computer science degree out of electronically controlled transmissions.)