August 15, 2011
Excited, speculative article on a production rear-transaxle GM Commodore… great, GM catches up to 1898 tech
Of course the rest of the world has moved on a tad and is now going for packaging efficiency and fuel economy… but it’s good to see Aussie motor-noters still getting worked up about expensively re-worked oversized conventional 3-box designs. And that’s fine, it’s a free country. I’m just glad I don’t pay their fuel bills.
HSV’S performance line-up is gearing up to soon blur the line even further between racetrack and road, with the brand believed to be working on a rear-mounted gearbox similar to the next-generation V8 Supercars.
Front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicles tend to have the transmission up front just after the engine, but sometimes a front engine drives a rear-mounted transaxle. This is generally done for reasons of weight distribution, and is therefore common on sports cars. Another advantage is that as the driveshaft only spins at engine speed it only has to endure the torque of the engine, instead of that torque multiplied by the 1st gear ratio. This design was pioneered in the 1934 Škoda Popular, and then in the 1950 Lancia Aurelia, designed by the legendary Vittorio Jano.
Since this placement of the gearbox is unsuitable for a live axle (due to excessive unsprung weight), the rear suspension is either independent, or uses a de Dion tube (notably in the Alfa Romeos). Rare exceptions to this rule were the Bugatti T46 and T50 which had a three speed gearbox on a live axle.