1963 & 1964 Engine and Transmission Facts

1963 390 and 1964 429 Engine History and Differences

-The 1963 390 was a totally redesigned engine compared to the 62 and earlier 390's. It was 50+ lbs lighter, engine accessories including the distributor was moved to the front and used a new aluminum engine cover that incorporated the oil pump. Nearly 1/2" was shaved off the top of the block, connecting rods were shortened to keep the same compression ratio, block length was shortened by more than an inch.  They switched to a hollow-cast crank, which is 11 pounds lighter than the 1962 crankshaft, and switched to an alternator-rectifier charging system, which saved an another 10 lbs over the generator used in 1962. The bore, stroke and horsepower (325) were the same as the 62 390 however this was a lighter, more agile 390 than the old design.

- For 1964 they took the new redesigned 63 390 and increased the bore and stroke increasing the displacement to 429 cubic inches and horsepower to 340.

-They also used two different crankshafts on 64 429's (see Transmission section below)

- The 1964 429 used with Hydramatics had a crank with a raised rear "drive plate" mounting area that was 3 3/16" across.

- The 1964 429 used with Turbo Hydramatics had a crank with a raise rear "flexplate" mounting area that was 3" across.

-Other than a few other minor changes including redesigned right exhaust manifolds,  larger higher capacity oil pump gears in the front aluminum engine cover, air breather housing inlet enlarged,  power steering pump cooler added, etc.) the 1963 390 is very similar to the 1964 429....especially the 1964 429 with the Hydramatic crank...as they will both mount up to the older style Hydramatics.

-In 1965, the engine was moved forward, the motor mounts were changed, the oil pan was changed to a front sump pan and their were other changes such as pistons that are different from 1964.


Hydra-Matic Transmissions

- In 1963 all body styles came with the Four Speed Hydramatic (shift pattern PND1D2LR and sometimes called Jetaways) transmission and bolted directly to the back of the 1963 390 block.

- The Hydramatic transmission between 1961 to 1964 will interchange with no modifications. They changed the reverse cone in 1962, but the transmission housing itself is the same.

- The 75 series and Commercial Chassis Hydramatic were slightly different in that they had a heavy duty reverse clutch and higher capacity oil pump, however, they are externally physically the same and will bolt right into a regular body style. (I put one in a 1964 62 series coupe some time back.)

- In 1964 the 62 series, 75 series (limos) and commercial Chassis continued to use the Hydra-matic and again bolted directly up to the back of the 1964 429 block.

Turbo Hydra-Matic Transmissions

-The new 3 speed Turbo Hydra-matic was introduced in the Buick as the Super Turbine 400 in 1964.  In order to not let Buick get a jump on Cadillac, The 1964 deVilles, Eldorados and Fleetwood 60 Specials used the Buick transmission using an adaptor ring to mount to back of the 429 engine.  It was then introduced in Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile in 1965.

- The Turbo Hydra-matic used in 1964 Cadillacs had a single range Drive shift pattern - PRNDL and is often called a Turbo Hydramatic 400, THM400, or Turbo 400 since other makes (e.g. Buick Super Turbine 400, Chevrolet Turbo Hydramatic 400) used 400 in the name. It has also become the common name used to refer to this family of Turbo Hydramatic transmissions.

- The 1964 "Buick Borrowed" Turbo Hydra-matic was a one year only transmission for Cadillac.   Cadillac got its own new Turbo Hydramatic transmission in 1965.  For 1965, the bell housing casing was changed to allow the transmission to mount directly up to the 65 429, and the internal hydraulic circuitry was modified to provide a dual drive range as seen in the 1965 Cadillac Shift Quadrant below. 

 

- Swapping the Transmissions ---> Things to Consider

Hydramatic Drive Plate with 3 3/16" opening & Turbo Hydramatic Flexplate with 3" Opening!!
==> While the hydramatic drive plate with the 3 3/16" center opening will mount right up to Turbo Hydarmatic crank since the bolt patterns are the same, there is a gap and will usually rip out in short order.

==> the Turbo Hydramatic flex plate opening has to be enlarged to exactly 3 3/16" to mount to the Hydramatic crank end and...if it is not exactly centered and a snug fit it to will quickly rip out.

==> In addition, the inside diameter of Hydramatic crank rear center is 1.6", while the inside diameter of Turbo Hydramatic is 1.7".  This may cause the front center cone section of the Turbo Hydramatic torque converter to not have enough clearance, requiring either the rear center section of the Hydramatic crank to be honed out at least .1" or the nub of the Turbo Hydramatic torque converter to be honed down in order to mount the Turbo Hydramatic torque converter on the back of the Hydramatic crankshaft. 

===> A best option is the swap out the correct 429 crank designed to fit the Hydramatic drive plate or Turbo Hydramatic flexplate.


To go from Hydramatic to Turbo Hydramatic or vice versa consider these differences between cars with the Hydramatic and the Turbo Hydramatic that need to be addressed:


==> Front driveshaft section on TH equipped cars is longer (putting a TH in a 63 or 64 limos requires the front drive shaft section from a 1965 limo). You will either need to find the correct driveshaft section or modify your current front driveshaft sections. There are longer front slip yoke assemblies available but due to considerable different in length, it is probably not a good option.

==>  The 1963 and 1964 Cadillacs had different transmission crossmembers since in 1964 they had to provide for securing both the HM & THM transmission, and of course the rear mounts and Yaw mounts are different between the HM and THM due to difference in size and shape of the transmissions. 

==> Starters were different

==> 1964 THM has adaptor ring, HydraMatic doesn't. Note, There are aftermarket adaptor rings available but they are pricey. You will want to check current prices and include that in your budget.

==> THM uses electric kick-down switch, HydraMatic used the TV Rod

==> carbs: The original Carter AFB and Rochester 4GC carbs that came with the Hydramatic equipped cars, will not have the mounting block for the THM trans kickdown switch, so you will need a carb from a THM equipped car.

==> Instrument cluster shift indicator display (PRNDL on THM and PND1D2LR on Hydramatic).

==> Drive Plate vs Flex Plate: Hydramatic uses a drive plate that mounts to the torus while the Turbo Hydramatic has flexplate with starter gear teeth that mounts to the torque converter

==> THM had vacuum line from vacuum modulator up to vacuum fitting on back of carb where brake power booster connects

==> Neutral Safety Switch is different due to different shift pattern (PND1D2NR for HM and PRNDL for THM), and physically different in how they mount to the column and engage the column between 1963 and 1964.  If swapping a 1964 THM for a 1964 HM the NSS can swapped. If this is a 1964 THM for a 1963 HM (and 1963 Column) the columns probably need to be swapped.

Below are examples of a 1963 & 1964 Neutral Safety Switch. Note that the 1963 mounts to column via one screw thru center of NSS and has a male plug that engages the column; while the 1964 NSS mounts to column via two metal screws on the ends, and engages the column via a fingered or forked piece. 

1963 Hydra-Matic #560 Neutral Safety Switch:


1964 Turbo Hydramatic, Non-Tilt #652 NSS:


==> back of engine transmission mounting dowels 1/2" for Turbo Hydramatic equipped transmission and 5/8" for Hydramatic equipped transmission. Dowels need to be swapped out when making a transmission change.

Finally: Shift Linkage Setup is Very Different Between HydraMatic and Turbo HydraMatic
The HydraMatic used a single shift relay rod setup from steering column shift rod to transmission lever (See 1st picture below); however, the Turbo HydraMatic used a more complex setup that included a long relay rod from the steering column shift rod, down to a relay bracket that mounted to the LH frame rail via 3 hex bolts, and then a short rod down to the transmission lever. (See 2nd picture below)

1963-64 HydraMatic Shift Rod Assembly

1964 Turbo Hydramatric Shift Relay Rod and Bracket Assembly

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Comment by Robert Pellow on June 5, 2021 at 5:13pm

How tough are the frames on these cars?  I am looking at one where the floorboards are rusted through with vegetation coming through the holes.  It has been sitting outside in our wet climate for a pretty long time and it is a Biarritz with no top so you can imagine what the upholstery is like.  I am considering risking a couple of thou to see if the frame is still intact enough to do a rebuild.  This car would be a total rebuild but the glass and brightwork all seem to be intact. 

Comment by Clovis on February 3, 2018 at 2:17pm

Good point, once you open it up who knows what you will find. 

Comment by Chris on February 3, 2018 at 9:49am

Thanks Clovis. Someone did a hack job on my engine and trans. Both the engine and trans are from a 65 since the trans has a 65 ID code on the tag and engine block.

You might be right about the oil pickup, but seeing how some things were modified in my car, I rather be safe than sorry.

Comment by Clovis on February 2, 2018 at 11:56am

If they reworked the 65 pan, you should already have a 64 oil pickup tube to match it inside. A 65 pickup tube would be very short an not reach the rear of a 64 or reworked pan. 

Comment by Clovis on February 2, 2018 at 11:53am

Chris i have a 65 motor in my car. Whoever did the work did do a pretty good job. Look at the motor mounts from underneath to see how well it was mated to the old position. Mine has the original transmission and adapter plate, the transmission mount is original and in the correct spot. Therefore I know they indexed everything from there and is correctly positioned. The engine should be sitting a half inch or so forward as measured at the motor mounts from the original ones. My mounts were made by cutting the ears off the engine side and welding the 65 ears on in the correct position.

Comment by Tony and Ginny 429 on February 2, 2018 at 10:53am
If you do not burn any oil that would mean your --engine rings are sound --and no chance of Blow By into the crankcase
The only other time fuel can get into the oil is if you have a mechanical fuel pump failure as a rule
So checking for contamination --should not be that necessary --unless two of the above things are taking place

Enjoy
Just do an oil level check at a given interval be it time or mileage

Enjoy
Comment by Tony and Ginny 429 on February 2, 2018 at 10:42am
Chris
You are very welcome
After going to operating temp and shutting the car off --wait a few minutes --for the oil in the top of the engine to trickle down
Take your reading and score the dip sick ( with a grinder - hacksaw etc )
That will get you your full capacity crankcase oil mark you need for future reference
Thought i should add - the waiting a few minutes to help get the oil mark on the dip stick as accurate as is possible


Enjoy
Comment by Chris on February 2, 2018 at 4:28am

Thanks Tony I’ll be sure to do that in the future. The car doesn’t burn oil thankfully. But I always check it for fuel contamination.

Comment by Tony and Ginny 429 on February 1, 2018 at 5:51pm
Chris

Regarding your dip stick reading you have in question
Next time you do an oil change
Start the car to fill the oil filter and run it to operating temp
Shut the car off and take a reading on you dip stick and mark that spot on the stick ( permenently )
That would give you a full capacity reading in your oil pan about one inch below that would be i quart low when you may use some oil in the future
That should give you the readings you need to be safe with your engine oil
use

Enjoy
Comment by Chris on February 1, 2018 at 1:17pm

Thanks guys! I didn’t know the oil pick up and screen are different too. I guess I’ll need both.

Jay, I’ll go take a look under the car later on tonight and see if there is any clearance issues with the crossmember. The engine does seem pretty close up to the firewall than usual. Modification were made the engine mounts in order for the engine to fit properly in the X Frame.

Not sure what the dimensions are for correct engine fit in terms of distance, height and length between the firewall, the frame and radiator,   but I’m going to have eyeball it and trust my gut that it will fit just right.

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