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Old 09-11-2019, 04:13 PM   #1
Bill Batson
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Default 53 with automatic

I'm looking at a very nice solid 53 Victoria with an automatic transmission. I have had several 3sp manual fords over the years including a 51 but never an automatic. I was wondering what some of the members opinions might be concerning this setup. Its the trans that starts off in 2nd unless you pull it down into low. Reliability? Parts available? etc.

Much obliged for any help.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:03 PM   #2
Bruce_MO
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

I have a Ď53 Ranch Wagon with a Fordomatic and it has been trouble-free since it was rebuilt 6500 miles ago. Itís not really peppy, but it works fine and shifts smoothly. It cruises nicely. I have no complaints.

Good luck.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:27 PM   #3
Newc
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Hi; My '53 is a six with an auto. Nice driver, however when rebuild time came we needed three cores cause the cast iron cases were wore out. Ended using a '53 Mercomatic. Good cores are getting Scarce and expensive. The used parts houses mix all the parts up, not specific to the original case. Newc
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:00 AM   #4
mfirth
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Well, i've driven only 1 auto trans flathead and i much prefere the Borg Warner overdrive..
Rear end gearing must be considered in any application. Just my 2 cents. mike
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:15 AM   #5
Bill Batson
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Talked with the seller quite a bit yesterday and he said the transmission was overhauled a year ago mainly to stop leaks. He noted that he usually drives the car only at 35 or 40 mph. My 51 would cruise comfortably at 55 -60. This seems like a red flag.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:18 AM   #6
Merc Cruzer
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

The Merc-a-Matic in my 53' Mercury works great. I live in the mountains for Colorado and it climbs the mountains without any issues. When you do pull it down to low, the performance is there for you. I see rebuilding kits, on a regular basis, on e-bay.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

The soft rebuild parts are out there. The hard parts are the problem. If your case, shafting, hydraulic control housings, and torque converter are all repairable then an overhaul is no problem.

A lot of the cases get cracked when folks get stuck in rainy or winter environments and they start going back & forth with reverse and drive. The case can crack at a weak point inside. This is common on all the cast iron case Borg Warner designs. As was also mentioned, certain surfaces can wear below specified tolerances causing a search for hard parts. Torque converters on the old ones are hard to find parts for. Later ones can be substituted but shafting has to be modified to accept them. The air cooled design started to phase out in 56 & 57 when they started adding oil coolers. In 58 the dual range cruise-o-matic came out and that put the old single range transmissions on the chopping block. By the end of 1959, they were done.

If I HAD to replace one, I'd spend the bucks and get an AOD conversion but that's just my opinion. There are still parts out there now. It just takes a while to locate them and you have to know where to look and what to look for.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 09-12-2019 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

The Merc/Fordomatic transmissions are pretty tough old machines. My 52, as far as I know is still running the original Mercomatic. Got to be close to 100,000 miles on it. Yes, it has a few leaks but it works. Cruises fine on the highway. If I can believe the speedometer the engine sounds pretty relaxed at 55 mph due to the automatics having a lower numerical rear axle ratio. Yes, starts off in second in drive but if you want some real get up and go at the stop lights I guess low might be a better choice.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:25 AM   #9
scicala
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

There is a nice '53 Victoria automatic V8 on the Ford Barn swap meet section right now (late V8 section). Listed by fordrelic.


Sal
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:23 AM   #10
Bill Batson
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Thanks everyone. It sure helps - although I've been playing with old Fords all my life I have never dealt with the air cooled automatic trans. Sounds like it should not be a deal breaker but needs to be in good condition. I'm getting to the age where trans work is too much for me.

Thanks Sal - didn't see the one on the swap pages. It in my state also.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Batson View Post
Thanks everyone. It sure helps - although I've been playing with old Fords all my life I have never dealt with the air cooled automatic trans. Sounds like it should not be a deal breaker but needs to be in good condition. I'm getting to the age where trans work is too much for me.

Thanks Sal - didn't see the one on the swap pages. It in my state also.
You might check with a few "older" transmission shops" in your area, to see if they can service them and if they can get parts. When I bought mine, I don't think it has been serviced for over 30 years, yet it ran. I serviced it and it has been problem free for over 10 years now. (of course , now that I have said that...)
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:16 PM   #12
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Friend of mine has a C-4 in his. Much better reliability and 3 gears make it able to keep the rpm in ranges the flatty likes. With an auto rear end gear set makes a real nice cruiser.
He cools his with an external oil cooler mounted up front. That was the big drawback(s) of the old air cooled 2 speed.
https://www.flat-o.com/carproducts/flatomatic.htm
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:27 PM   #13
scicala
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

All air cooled Fordomatics were three speed also, until the later ones in the 60's that were two speeds.


Sal
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:38 PM   #14
40 Deluxe
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Batson View Post
Talked with the seller quite a bit yesterday and he said the transmission was overhauled a year ago mainly to stop leaks. He noted that he usually drives the car only at 35 or 40 mph. My 51 would cruise comfortably at 55 -60. This seems like a red flag.
Maybe the seller thinks it's a Model T! It was normal for these cars to run at 70 or more back when they were just used cars. Take it for a test drive and run up to 70 for a couple minutes to see how smooth it is (or isn't). If the seller won't do this, there's your red flag!
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:37 PM   #15
Gene1949
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

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Originally Posted by scicala View Post
All air cooled Fordomatics were three speed also, until the later ones in the 60's that were two speeds.


Sal
The original Ford-O-Matic, while capable of three forward speeds, started out in second and shifted to third, with first only being used when selecting L on the gear shift column.

HOWEVER; if floored from a standing start, it would immediately shift from second to low
then shift back to second and then third as the vehicle accelerated.

The Ford-O-Matic was manufactured from 1951 until it was replaced by the C4 in 1964.
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:43 AM   #16
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Default Re: 53 with automatic

The aluminum case 2-speed Ford-O-Matic came on line in 1959 and continued to the mid 60s. The 3-speed single range Ford-O-Matic was produced through a good part of 1959. These two transmissions only have the name in common.
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