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I'm going to look at a used one from the mid 80's today. What should I be looking for? I know I have to rebuild it, and have no objection to that but are there certain areas to be observant for?

I'm also looking at a TH400 with an attached gear vendors over/under. The bidding is up to 600 bucks but it's in my town. The condition of this one is totally unknown but by pictures, the unit looks sound. It is missing the electronic control box though....no idea how much that would run..

TIA
 

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The later 700's are better, I believe 87 and newer, but I'm not sure how to decode them. The early ones are not as good and cost more to rebuild to bring them up to par so to speak.
 

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Here is some information I got from Pandoras Box- a memeber on this site.
Hopefully he will not mind me posting.
First off you'll need to determine what case you have. Look at the right (passenger) side of the bellhousing, near the dipstick tube. There will either be an "MD8", "K" or nothing at all casted into the bellhousing. If it has nothing don't go any further, get another tranny. You're fine if it's an "MD8", the "K" case is better but not necessary unless you're running 500 horse or more. The next thing to look for is the input shaft spline count. There are 2 different input shaft spline counts, a 27 and a 30. You only want a 30 spline shaft. F.Y.I.: Most of the time if it's an MD8 or K case it should be a 30 spline tranny as well. If you have all that, now you've got something worth building.

You can p.m. him if you need more info.
He knows his stuff:yes:
The case that I have is a MD8- it came from a 1989 Chev Astro van.
 

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In general, you want the newest non-electronic 700R-4 that you can get (I think '92). If you get an earlier one you want to update it with all the newer parts, preferably "Corvette" as that was the heavy duty trans. Even there, you want to have a hardened sun shell installed.

Lot's of people like the 2004-R, and while they can definitely be built to work well, they just weren't the heavier duty trans that the 700 was, especially in the Corvette, or truck application. Take your time and get the right one to start with and you'll have fewer upgrades to do on it.
 
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