Chevrolet has produced some iconic products during its 111-year history. Not only do we find the legendary Corvette, Camaro, Impala, and Chevelle nameplates, but a mythical array of hardware is on the menu as well. Iconic items like the small-block, big-block, and LS engines, to Powerglide, Turboglide, and Turbo-Hydramatic transmissions have their place in history. One would think those storied names would be a tough act to follow, but not for Chevrolet Performance. We can now add SuperMatic transmissions to the hallowed lexicon of Bow Tie performance icons.
The SuperMatic lineup of transmissions are not simply OE units pulled from the assembly line. The SuperMatics are Chevrolet-Performance-upgraded transmissions ready for the aftermarket. They are designed with enhanced performance features and are ready to bring your classic car, restomod, or truck into the 21st century. Chevrolet Performance builds each SuperMatic transmission with special attention to premium components and tight build tolerances offering higher horsepower and torque-handling capabilities.
If you’re building a hot rod with a modern mill, SuperMatic transmissions are designed to work seamlessly with Chevy crate engines. Third-party transmissions add a layer of compatibility issues to your build and don’t offer a plug-and-play option like Chevy Performance’s famous Connect & Cruise portfolio.
So let’s take a look at the SuperMatic lineup. There are four series of SuperMatic transmissions and each is tailored to a specific application. With four, six, eight, and ten-speed options, there is a perfect transmission here for your build with all the quality and engineering expertise we associate with Chevrolet Performance.
A Super Four
Let’s start with the 4L series, a prolific group of SuperMatic with the most variants. Think of this family of SuperMatics as the unit that will fit anywhere a Powerglide or Turbo 350 lives now. There are four models to choose from, the 4L65-E, 4L70-E, 4L75-E, and 4L85-E, with torque capacity increasing as one ascends the lineup.
Although the 4L85-E uses a slightly larger case, the rest of the 4L series utilizes the same size case, meaning fitment in your existing transmission tunnel usually isn’t an issue. Whatever 4L series you choose, you get that extra final gear that really calms down your cruising RPM and reduces fuel consumption.
In addition, the four-speed transmissions are the only models in the SuperMatic family designed to work with old-school, carbureted engines as well as fuel-injected LS engines. The reason is, the six-, eight-, and 10-speed transmissions require torque data from a computer to operate properly, and as we all know, carbureted engines don’t need no stinkin’ computer. The eight- and 10-speed options won’t mount up to an “old-school” small-block or even an LS.
SuperMatic 4L Series: Key Benefits
- Smallest SuperMatic Transmission
- Four models to choose from
- Increased horsepower and torque ratings from the SuperMatic brand
- Bolts up to old school small- or big-block Chevrolet
- Available gear ratios vary depending on which transmission is selected.
The 6L80-E six-speed SuperMatic is an incrementally bigger transmission than the 4L series. It offers a low 4.02:1 first gear for strong off-the-line grunt and a tall 0.67:1 top gear that provides low-RPM cruising. The 6L80-E utilizes the same design as the transmission that comes in production versions of rear-wheel-drive vehicles like the Camaro and GM trucks, but again, incorporates enhanced internal components.
All the enhancements that Chevrolet Performance builds into the SuperMatic 6L80-E allow the transmission to handle 650 lb-ft of torque, a 45-percent increase over the regular production model.
The 6L80-E is designed for use with Chevrolet Performance’s LS and LSX crate engines, as well as LT1 and LT4 crate engines. A four-wheel-drive version is also available for LS/LSX engines.
SuperMatic 6L80-E: Key Benefits
• Electro/hydraulic controls with clutch-to-clutch shifting
• Output torque rating: 650 lb-ft
• Gear ratios: first: 4.02, second: 2.36, third: 1.53, fourth: 1.15, fifth: 0.85, sixth: 0.67
• Lightweight die-cast aluminum case contributes to dry weight of approximately 195 lbs.
• Approximately 29.9 in. long (2WD version)
• Uses DEXRON VI premium fluid
• Includes truck-style production oil pan
Chevrolet Performance has adapted the production-based 8L90-E eight-speed transmission for use with the LT1, LT4, and LT5 crate engines.
The 8L90-E SuperMatic is designed for compatibility with the latest Chevy crate engines and ups the ante compared to the production version of the transmission. It’s been heavily massaged by Chevrolet Performance with unique parts for reliability, and the ability to handle big horsepower and torque. It features a 4.56:1 first-gear ratio for strong take-off performance and a wide 7.0:1 overall ratio for mellow cruising. The 8L90-E utilizes four gear sets for efficiency and five clutches (two brake clutches and three rotating clutches). The transmission can handle a big helping of torque too, with a rating of 715 lb-ft.
SuperMatic 8L90-E: Key Benefits
• Compatible with three-pin LT design engines only
• Four gearsets for efficiency
• Five clutches: two brake clutches and three rotating clutches
• Friction-reducing features include synthetic fluid
• Gear ratios: first: 4.56, second: 2.97, third: 2.08, fourth: 1.69, fifth: 1.27, sixth: 1.00, seventh: 0.85, eighth: 0.65, reverse: 3.82
• Controller and harness included
• Torque converter included (engine specific)
Finally, the new 10L90-E 10-speed SuperMatic is literally the big kahuna of the lineup. The 10L90-E walks the fine line of performance and efficiency when matched with Chevrolet Performance’s Gen V crate engines, like the LT1, LT4, and LT5. Based on the already stout transmission offered in the Camaro SS ZL1 and full-size trucks and SUVs, the SuperMatic 10L90-E transmission kit features a slip yoke-type tail shaft, so it can be used with the conventional prop shaft design in most older vehicles. That makes installation on LT engine swaps into vintage cars, trucks, and SUVs, a breeze. Chevrolet Performance engineers also borrowed some of the components from performance production vehicles like the Camaro Z1 and Cadillac CTS-V to buff up its SuperMatic version.
The SuperMatic 10L90-E: Key Benefits
• Four gearsets and six clutches: two brake clutches and four rotating clutches
• 7.39:1 overall gear ratio spread
• Gear ratios: first: 4.70, second: 2.99, third: 2.15, fourth: 1.80, fifth: 1.52, sixth: 1.28, seventh: 1.00, eigth: .85, nineth: .69, tenth: .64
• Output torque rating 715 lb-ft
• Electro/hydraulic controls with clutch-to-clutch shifting
With so many options to choose from, SuperMatic has something for everyone. Not only that, many times you can even find rebates on all Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise systems. Also, when you purchase a Connect and Cruise combo, The warranty gets bumped up from one year to two years.
So, why pull a salvage yard transmission and get a used OE design. Check out the offerings from Chevrolet Performance and get an upgraded version of the transmission your hot rod needs.