A few months back we took a trip up to Smeding Performance in Rancho Cordova, California, and followed along with Ben Smeding as he assembled their new 383 Hot Rod crate motor. When the build wrapped up we hit the dyno, where the motor cranked out over 400 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. In a nutshell, this all around street motor turned out to be a perfect fit for Project Get Shorty. But the motor is only half of it, because every yin needs a yang, every Abbott needs a Costello, and every Tango needs a Cash. Therefore, it's time to find a transmission that will complement the 383 for the perfect one-two punch.

When it comes to looking for a tranny, one can look near and far and tally up more options than we care to count. Yet somewhere in the midst of things, Gearstar Performance Transmissions will surface. Gearstar builds trannies for any type of vehicle, and driving style. From the strip to the streets, and everything in between, they have something in their repertoire that will suit any truck out there. Seeing that Shorty has a dead-on street motor, up to the task of whatever is thrown its way, it was time to dig up a tranny with the same agenda.

When scouring the pages of Gearstar's catalog, one will soon realize options run deep. For starters, they pretty much cover all the popular GM transmissions-even Ford and Chrysler transmissions as well. Beyond that, they build four versions of each tranny based on its performance; a Level 1 tranny being the Pinto, and a Level 4 being the Lamborghini. For Shorty, we were after something that would handle around town duties, highway runs, and maybe a few passes down the strip. It was decided that a GM 4L60 would be the perfect match. Being that our Smeding motor is rather potent, we also needed something that would be able to handle the heavy horsepower and torque, therefore a Level 3 or 4 4L60 was the only option. When we began to weigh the two, we landed on a Level 4 4L60 package, better known at Gearstar as the 502 Package. Although both would be a suitable answer, we went with the Level 4, just in case we ever decided to up the horsepower of the Smeding motor. The Level 4 tranny is able to handle up to 500 horsepower, day in and day out.

Just like every Smeding motor is hand-assembled and dyno tested, by a trained technician. Gearstar transmissions are as well. Each Gearstar tranny begins and ends with the same technician-all Gearstar technicians have over 20 years of transmission experience-until it is shipped out the door, but not before a run on the in-house dyno, of course. Actually, because of the high quality of both Smeding and Gearstar products, they work hand-in-hand to provide the ultimate in drivetrains.

Each Gearstar tranny is torn down and remanufactured with top quality performance products. The entire process takes anywhere between 10-15 hours, and each tranny is assembled to meet or exceed factory specifications and tolerances. Transmissions are assembled with a new gasket set, seals, bushings and sealing rings. Not to mention, Gearstar's concoction of performance internal products. The Level 4 also features a billet converter with a flanged hub, heavy duty Torrington bearings, furnace-brazed pump, and turbine. Once the tranny is assembled, it is thrown on the dyno for extensive testing. Each tranny is tested, with its converter in place on the equivalent of 30 miles on the street and up to speeds of 130 mph. They also monitor pressures, temperatures, forward gears and reverse, which ensure no one ends up with the short end of the stick. Yep, a Gearstar 4L60 is just what this '71 Chevy needs.

Although Shorty won't hit the road the minute the motor and trans combo is in place, this install will help out in the long run. By installing the motor and trans and measuring for a new driveshaft, we will be able to mock everything up, and make sure all is kosher. Waiting until everything is in paint and then going through this process isn't exactly the best way to go about building custom trucks. Follow along as we drop this motor and trans into Project Get Shorty.

Sources
Gearstar Performance Transmissions
800/633-2353
www.gearstar.net
Smeding Performance
916/638-0899
www.smedingperformance.com
Classic Performance Products
800/522-5004
www.classicperform.com
Inland Empire Driveline
800/800-0109
www.iedls.com
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