'50 vs. '51 Pacemakers

WINST10WINST10 Posts: 28Member

Hi everybody!  When I was in high school my first car was a 1950 Pacemaker sedan with a three-speed transmission (no overdrive).  My current ride is a 1951 Pacemaker sedan with the 232 engine and three-speed transmission, also without overdrive.  It’s been 50 years since I graduated from high school so my memory has faded a little with time, but I feel that my ‘50 was a much better driver than my ‘51 for a couple of reasons.

I recently watched a YouTube video of a gentleman in Minnesota driving a beautiful ‘50 Pacemaker coupe, cruising along at 60 mph.  I recall that on the few occasions when I took my ‘50 on the highway, I was also able to cruise at 60 mph without any trouble. In contrast, my ’51 can barely reach a top speed of about 45 mph.  I spoke with Randy Maas a few years ago, and he told me that 45 mph was about all I could expect with the engine and transmission combo on my ’51.  Were there substantial differences between the ’50 and ’51 models that would have such a negative impact on the cruising speed?

I also have a question about the transmission.  When I pull up to a stop sign, I have to be at a 100% dead stop before I shift into first gear, otherwise the gears clash.  I do not remember ever having this issue with my ’50.  Do other ‘51s have this issue or do I have a problem with my first gear synchro?

Thanks for any info or suggestions!


  • tombiatombia Posts: 188Member
    I had a 50 Pacemaker coupe for 10 years, drove it all over, never had a any speed problems, 51 super with 232 and no diff.  Now know some expert will tell me 51 super did not have 232, mine did , I put it there.
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 2,687Senior Contributor
    I don't know what Randy was talking about, as that is bunk, you should not have any problems getting to at least 60 if not maybe a bit more with a 232.    The only thing I can imagine is that someone put a low ratio rear from an OD car in yours so you are wining up a lot but not going very fast on the top end!  I assume your engine is running OK and not running too rich or missing out?  As for the trans - a few years ago my C8 w/ Supermatic had a similar issue. and also had a vibration when downshifting.  I took out the clutch and found a couple of the springs were broken and once that was taken care of it shifted fine on the fly.  The other issue may be the syncros are gone or going.  How many miles do you have on your car?  You might want to find a trans/OD combo to install.  OD makes things a lot happier IMHO.
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 4,605Senior Contributor
    Even without overdrive your 232 should be capable of  around 80 m.p.h.   There are no synchro-mesh mechanisms in the transmission, so sure, you cannot change into low gear whilst still moving unless you do the old fashioned double de-clutching.  The 232 were a very capable  engine, and were virtually indestructable.  There is no difference between '50 and '51 mechanically.  
    If you're stuck in a hole, stop digging.
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 4,605Senior Contributor
    Sorry, before I get jumped on, synchro-mesh is applicable to only 2nd and top gear, but low gear is "crash change"
    If you're stuck in a hole, stop digging.
  • lostmindlostmind Posts: 1,529Expert Adviser
    Maybe you did have an overdrive in your 50.
    You can usually shift into first while rolling to a stop with OD. Also would easily cruise at 60 or more.
    I suspect your 51 has a different gear ratio in the differential as mentioned.
    Wellington , Ohio
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 2,687Senior Contributor
    I did not think about it when I answered but with the OD in my 50 C8 I rarely shift down into first gear unless I am on a steep hill.  The H8 has plenty of torque and I just shift 2nd - 3rd - OD.
  • WINST10WINST10 Posts: 28Member
    I appreciate all the comments!  I determined the gear ratio by jacking one rear wheel off the ground and turning it two revolutions.  The driveshaft turned a little more than four revolutions, so I believe I have the 4.1 gear ratio in my '51.  Since everyone seems to feel this car should be capable of at least 60 mph, I wonder what else could be holding it back.
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 4,605Senior Contributor
    Retarded spark, incorrect valve timing, too lean a mixture, are just some of the things,   You need to do a comprehensive tune-up.
    If you're stuck in a hole, stop digging.
  • lostmindlostmind Posts: 1,529Expert Adviser
    Check you are getting full throttle opening. Hook up a tach to check your Rpm at
    the top speed. Adjust your valves while you are doing a tune up.
    Without driving it , it's hard to know what are experiencing.
    Wellington , Ohio
  • cheyenne7271cheyenne7271 Posts: 492Member
    Another thing to add, I also had a 50 Pacemaker Deluxe, no OD and 4.10 gear, back in the 90s in college I would routinely run 65-70 on hundred mile trips and power was adequate. 1st gear always crashed unless dead stop. Also all the cars equipped w Super-Matic had 4.57 gear and 4.10 optional. Those cars also had a lower 2nd gear ratio. Occasionally when my OD doesn’t work in my SuperMatic car. I’m only good for about 55mph sustained due to the 4.57 gear. 
    51 Hornet Club Coupe
    51 Hornet Sedan
    51 Commodore Six Club Coupe
    50 Pacemaker Deluxe R.I.P. (burned and destroyed in building fire)
    49 Super Six Sedan
  • Hudsy Wudsy Hudsy Wudsy Posts: 509Senior Contributor
    Could you have a leak causing air intake in a flexible fuel line?
Sign In or Register to comment.