Advice needed on whether to go 2004R or TH400 with a built 455 BBO

Chevytruc1658

Apprentice
Oct 22, 2011
84
18
North Bend, Washington
Hey everyone, just wrapping up my build on my BBO 455. It's putting out over 600HP and 700 ftlbs of Torque. I will be dropping it in my 87 Olds 442. I currently have a Ford 9" rear with 3:91 gears. I have no transmission at the moment, I got rid of the 2004r years ago before I started the build and now I'm kicking myself because it's hard to find a core, My question is, do I go with a built stage II 2004r or go TH400. The car is not going to be used for long-distance, I could care less about MPG's, I just want to have fun on the street and maybe take it to the strip from time to time. I know the cross members for both trans will be the same I will just need to get a new driveshaft which I had planned to do anyway due to having the 9". Just looking for everyone's opinion on what would be the best way to go as well as recommendations on where to buy the best transmission. Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

wskirvin

Master Mechanic
May 22, 2017
297
63
Indianapolis, In
Personally I went with a 4L80E when I had my 455 because I knew I was going LS anyways eventually, but a turbo 400 would be a good choice and less expensive then building a 2004r
 
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57 Handyman

Greasemonkey
Feb 6, 2017
247
63
Depends on your budget. With regards to cost and how hard these transmissions are to find, both would work. Who builds the Stage II 2004r that you are considering? Bow Ties Overdrive? I have one installed in my '87 El Camino with a much milder SBC. Only reason I have it is I got a SUPER deal several years ago; bought a whole car for $500 in which this was installed.

Although you say you won't be traveling long distances, that maybe now, but will you once again be "kicking yourself" in the butt for making the trans mistake twice? Nowadays, overdrive transmissions shouldn't be discounted too much. And, lastly, it is your car. Do what your want vice what many may suggest...Good luck!
 

ck80

Comic Book Super Hero
Feb 18, 2014
4,547
113
I'd think about 4 variables:

1) budget
2) current expected use
3) future uses
4) effect on vehicle value

Now, depending what you're expecting, having an OD could be nice if you did some.sort of meet or or power tour someday.

So, in the world of 2004r, th400, the afore mentioned 4l80e... can I suggest another?

What about going th400 plus a gear vendors unit? It can operate as overdrive or underdrive.

Advantage there is cheaper/stronger build of the th400, but, the entire gear vendors probably cost the same as the 4l80e standalone controller unit.
 
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Chevytruc1658

Apprentice
Thread starter
Oct 22, 2011
84
18
North Bend, Washington
Depends on your budget. With regards to cost and how hard these transmissions are to find, both would work. Who builds the Stage II 2004r that you are considering? Bow Ties Overdrive? I have one installed in my '87 El Camino with a much milder SBC. Only reason I have it is I got a SUPER deal several years ago; bought a whole car for $500 in which this was installed.

Although you say you won't be traveling long distances, that maybe now, but will you once again be "kicking yourself" in the butt for making the trans mistake twice? Nowadays, overdrive transmissions shouldn't be discounted too much. And, lastly, it is your car. Do what your want vice what many may suggest...Good luck!
Thanks for the reply. I am really more concerned about getting this right rather than budget and I know not having OD may be an issue at some point. I also have not seen a major price difference between a built 200 and a built 400, once you get up into the stage 2's and 3's they cost close to the same. I did check out Bow Ties and their price point is great for level 3, and components all seem good. I have also been looking at Monster and Extreme Automatics which are way more than what Bow Ties are selling them for. I will have to do more research on their trans to see how theirs compares to the other two I'm looking at.
 

scoti

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Sep 5, 2019
1,642
113
Texas
I'd think about 4 variables:

1) budget
2) current expected use
3) future uses
4) effect on vehicle value

Now, depending what you're expecting, having an OD could be nice if you did some.sort of meet or or power tour someday.

So, in the world of 2004r, th400, the afore mentioned 4l80e... can I suggest another?

What about going th400 plus a gear vendors unit? It can operate as overdrive or underdrive.

Advantage there is cheaper/stronger build of the th400, but, the entire gear vendors probably cost the same as the 4l80e standalone controller unit.
The GV purchase price is almost 3x the cost of a stand alone 4l80e controller (depending on controller brand). New GV units are $2900.

I look @ stuff like this from a return on investment perspective. For the defined application (high HP/TQ) in a 3500# car that's not regularly driven on the highway, a Th400 seems like the best 1st option. They're proven, less complex (vs. factory OD units), & can be built to handle the power. A GV OD can be added if the desire arises for over-drive @ a later date w/o losing any of the initial investment.

A 4l80e would be the next seemingly logical option. They can also be built to handle the power although it will be @ a higher cost & increase in complexity, They would allow getting up to normal speeds w/traffic w/o the excessive rpms/wear for just driving >/= 30min A-to-B distances (track, cruise, car-show).

I like the 200 4r but that much power from a BBO seems like it's unlikely it would live a decent lifespan per dollar invested.
 
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bracketchev1221

Royal Smart Person
Jan 18, 2018
1,220
113
All I can add is you can't go wrong with the t-400. I ran a basic manual valve body t-400 with a transbrake for 16 years without an issue. Even with them rated to 750-850 hp when you see them listed, I was just at 1000 and 800 ft lbs of torque.
 
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Rus

Master Mechanic
Oct 7, 2016
274
93
Queensbury, NY
I just went with an Art Carr 200-4r ultimate with my similar setup. I have a BBB 455 STAGE 2 about 550hp with 3.89 ford 9 inch rear. I had the switch pitch turbo 400. The 200-4r on my other car is holding up well. It's a BBB 430, 460hp), 355 rear
 
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john87442

Apprentice
Supporting Member
Mar 9, 2021
61
18
This was a great forum search for me as I also was interested in what to use. I have a 87 442 that I am installing a mondello built 403 I think it’s about 475hp. I purchased a th400 trans from them also to match it per their recommendation. Also because by the time I shipped my 200r4 out to be rebuilt at a level to handle this motor the cost and question of reliability I felt the 400 would be a better option. Now I question not having the overdrive option as I do drive freeway sometimes. Also what other items do I need to make this swap? No better place to ask these questions then here. Thanks in advance
 

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
6,814
113
If you're concerned about mileage, don't bother with a 455. Go get a 307, put it in, and be happy. You can't be concerned with mileage if you're wanting a 455.

TH400 cannot be torn up as easily, but if built right, a 4R will hold up all day behind a warmed over 455. But that's the key. There's like, a handful of GOOD rebuilders out there that can build one to hold up. You can probably do it yourself, but if you want it to hold power, put that in an expert's hands.

A TH400 can be built by you, at home, and that 455 won't ever tear it up. They're simple to build and there's tons of parts still available.

Figure out your end goal, what your pain level is (wallet check) and go from there. If it cost a few hundred more to do what you WANT it to do, then do that. Don't skimp. You'll never miss the money later on but you'll surely miss the lost opportunity for years to come.
 
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