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I would appreciate hearing any opinions and insight from anyone on the topic of the three speed manual vs the four speed. I have been searching for the right GTO for quite awhile and occasionally (not commonly) I see one equipped with the three speed. I guess I had always thought I would find a car with a four speed, but upon seeing some really nice GTO's with the three speeds, I am wondering if I should be open to checking them out further. I know "back in the day" there was a cost consideration to going with the four speed option, but maybe there were other reasons cars would have been ordered with the three speed other than just cost?? What say you? Thanks in advance!!
 

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I would appreciate hearing any opinions and insight from anyone on the topic of the three speed manual vs the four speed. I have been searching for the right GTO for quite awhile and occasionally (not commonly) I see one equipped with the three speed. I guess I had always thought I would find a car with a four speed, but upon seeing some really nice GTO's with the three speeds, I am wondering if I should be open to checking them out further. I know "back in the day" there was a cost consideration to going with the four speed option, but maybe there were other reasons cars would have been ordered with the three speed other than just cost?? What say you? Thanks in advance!!
The 3-speed manual was the base transmission on a GTO. The 4-speed & auto were extra cost options.

The HD 3-speed used for a number of years is the Ford Dearborn 3-speed fitted for GM application. It is pretty rugged and will take a lot of abuse. Difference is in the spread of the gears. 4-speed has its advantages and was the manual transmission of choice offering the M-20, M-21, & later the M-22.
 

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I have a 72 with the Heavy Duty Muncie 3 speed.
After having a few cars with 4, 5 and 6 speeds is took some getting used to. Its like driving a 4 speed with first gear missing.

After putting 1000 miles on my current GTO, I kind of like it. I am not racing around and it’s a very clean shifting transmission if its adjusted correctly. (Shifter linkage)
There are 2 different 3 speeds, one has a 2.42 first gear and the other has 3.03. the GTOs got the B model with the 2.42. I am starting to like it as I can often just start in second gear or shift from first to third. Even with my low compression 400 its very easy to drive in traffic with a minimum of shifting. If I do want to run through the gears it still has that visceral feeling, all I miss is the gear whine from a M22.

I wouldn’t be deterred from buying a car with a 3 speed manual.
 

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I also have a 400 and a original 3 speed with 3:55 gears. never disappoints in get up in go in any gear.
 

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Another thing I'll add: while the 4 speed is preferable to most, the 3 speed Dearborn transmission that came in these cars standard is actually stronger than the 4 speed. And, most, but not all 3 speed cars were not flogged as hard as the 4 speed cars, so they tend to be in better overall condition with their original engines still intact. I have never owned an original engine 4 speed GTO, and I've had a bunch! I have seen many original engine 3 speed cars, however. If I saw a nice 3 speed GTO, I would have no issues with buying it instead of a 4 speed car. Still a lot of fun to drive, and still way cool.
 

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I have owned both and the three speed and the four speed both are an identical 1:1 ratio in high gear, so no difference once you get there. The four speed has more jump off the line than the three because of the lower gear ratio. But the main difference for me that is solidly in the four speed's corner is the three speed (on my 64) was not synchro-mesh between 2nd and 1st, which meant I had to come to a nearly complete stop to downshift the car into first gear. With the Muncie four speed there is complete synchro throughout and no gear crunching going back into first gear when rolling up to a red light.
 
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