I'm guessing that performance would be roughly the same, however economy would suffer with the 3 speed due to one less gear ratio. At 100kmh a 3 speed will rev at 2300rpm where the 4 speed will rev at approx 1900rpm?
I can't give you exact prices but you will find reco 3 speeds to be a hell of a lot cheaper than the 4 speed.
I would say 4 speed for a cruizer and 3 speed for grunt
had 88 fairmont ghia mpi 3 speed a few years ago and had no problems at all reved at 2500 @100kays ran through gears good
and now the series 2 ea ive got now has btr85le(4 speed)
and after a thrash or towing it plays up bad
I think they need to have larger external coolers if you are to do anything more than daily driving because they run very hot.
I have a 3spd auto, and while being as tough as nails, I would prefer the 4 spd. Other than economy, anyone who owns a stock 3 spd will tell you that in the first 100 - 200 meters anything will drag you off due to the gear ratio. You peg the other cars back a little when they change to second, but the distance lost at the beginning is very difficult to make up. If reliability is your concern, go for a 3 spd, else go for the 4 for dragging and economy.
I have something to say, its better to burn-out, than to fade away
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