C4 Transmission Details
The C4 transmission was produced by Ford beginning in 1964. The C4, also known as the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission, was developed to be a replacement for the 2-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission.
The C4 was developed to be a significantly lighter option than the cast iron Ford-O-Matic that it replaced. This light-weighting was accomplished by both material selection as well as the simplification of the design.
In the first year it was introduced, the C4 was offered in mostly cars, such as the Ford Fairlane and the Mercury Comet. The next year this transmission was also added to the Ford F-Series trucks, and later being added to the Ford Bronco.
Other well-known cars that this transmission was offered in were the Ford Mustang and the Ford Torino.
The C4 transmission started being phased in to the Ford lineup in 1964, but then found its way into a larger number of different cars over the following years.
The longest run of the C4 in any individual application was in the Ford F-series. The C4 was used on those trucks from 1965 until 1983. The F150 was the final application to switch away from the C4 transmission, as the transmission’s final year in production was 1983.
Pros and Cons
The C4 transmission was popular for several reasons. One reason was the light-weighting as mentioned earlier. It was also praised for its simple design, and as well as its durability.
Although this was known as a very durable and robust transmission, everything has problems. Two of the primary issues were difficulty in shifting from 1st to 2nd gear along with the transmission not going into reverse.
C4 Transmission Performance Specs
The C4 transmission has become a very popular transmission to be used in hot rods and other racing applications, primarily due to its lightweight and simplicity. These cars generally have modified C4 transmissions though.
Some of the aftermarket companies claim that this transmission with their modifications can handle more than 1,000 hp. The stock transmission was often paired with the Windsor 302 which was rated at 333 lb-ft of torque.
The C4 is an automatic transmission that is mounted longitudinally. I should also mention that the transmission was a 3 speed which utilized gear ratios of 2.46 for 1st, 1.46 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd. Reverse was designated with a transmission ratio of 2.18.
Materials, Size and Weight
As mentioned already, the C4 is a significantly lighter transmission than the 2-speed Ford-O-Matic that it replaced. One of the key reasons is that the C4 was made of aluminum alloy compared with the Ford-O-Matic that was constructed of cast iron.
The C4 could be taken apart into 3 pieces, the bell housing, the main case and the tailhousing. All 3 of these are constructed of aluminum alloy. The C4 transmission is close to 20 inches, slightly more or less depending on if the case fill or pan fill option is selected.
The C4 weighed 110 pounds dry, and without torque converter, far lighter than the 228 pounds of the Ford-O-Matic that it replaced. This transmission alone, without torque converter, takes 5.5 quarts of transmission fluid. Depending on the torque converter applied, an additional 2-4 quarts may be required.
The C4 transmission was a major improvement for Ford over its predecessor. Not only was this transmission significantly lighter than the Ford-O-Matic that it replaced, it was very durable.
This transmission endured a long production life, 19 years in total and 18 years in the F-150. This transmission is still very popular to this day and used in many hot rod applications after some modifications by aftermarket professionals.
Vehicles with C4 Transmission: