Video: Powerglide 101 – Getting Shafted By Hughes Performance

Ignore the clickbait title because we weren’t trying to be deceptive or dishonest. When it comes to Powerglide transmissions, you actually want to get shafted by Hughes Performance. They are top-level professionals in the industry with an emphasis on race transmissions.

Since 1971, Hughes has identified weak areas in OE transmissions and developed high-performance components to shore up those weaknesses. In the case of GM’s two-speed Powerglide transmission, the stock input and output shafts are known problem spots. 

When home-garage builders started adding power to their project cars, and some of their daily drivers became weekend warriors at the local drag strip, Powerglides began to experience twisted and broken input shafts at an alarming rate. Hughes Performance was one of the early manufacturers to offer a hardened input shaft to cure the issue.

In the video, Pete Nichols of Hughes explains the details of the Powerglide’s input shafts, identifying two different shafts developed by GM and used in their aluminum case Powerglides from 1962 through the next ten years. 

Most of the aluminum case Powerglides were designed for use in Chevrolet light trucks using a 1.76:1-ratio reduction planetary gear set. A heavy-duty version of aluminum Powerglide was offered for passenger cars equipped with the 409ci big-block V8 engine. The robust and straightforward design of the Powerglide has led drag racing and performance enthusiasts to work with it, giving the Powerglide an effective service life over five decades past its intended obsolescence. 

Nichols also explains the different shaft lengths between the two different units were addressed long ago by an aftermarket “combo” input shaft. These are typically entry-level input shafts that basically split the difference between the two different lengths of input shafts produced by GM. According to Nichols, “There’s enough wiggle room to use the combo shafts with either planetary gear set.”

Obviously, there is a lot more to know about the different input shafts and the higher horsepower solutions that Hughes Performance offers to street enthusiasts and street/strip racers. All of this can be viewed in the lead video in this article.

For more information on high-performance Powerglides or the other transmissions and products manufactured by Hughes Performance, visit them online at hughesperformance.com.

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About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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