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Automatic Transmission in DJ-3As, DJs and Others(?)

• CATEGORIES: DJ-3A, Features, FJ

Dave asked me about the type of adapter used on DJ-3As and FJs to connect an automatic transmission (which may have been the Borg Warner model 12 according to David Sapp mentioned in his comment to this post, though I have no documented evidence of this, but it should be out there somewhere). Essentially, a adapter plate is bolted to the back of an L-head/F-head engine, to which the transmission bell housing attaches.

After some searching, Dave spotted the adapter in an FJ supplement book. Here are the pics.

fj-auto-transmission-plate2-lores fj-auto-transmission-plate1-lores

Meanwhile, a discussion from 2012 on the topic of DJ-3A automatic transmissions yielded these pics showing a BW transmission connected to an L-head with a similar looking plate.



As for the rare shifter that’s been captured in some pics, this pic is the best I have (from a DJ-3A automatic). It confirms Barry Goodwin’s comment on another post that the transmission lacked a “Park” feature. Instead, the driver would put it in neutral when parking (and I assume pull the parking brake).


If anyone has a document that confirms it was the M-12 BW transmission that was used, or has more pics or is aware of other useful discussions on this topic, please let me know. There isn’t much info about these setups on the web.

FYI: Based on my research, it appears the Willys Aero cars of the 1950s used a GM Hydramatic rather than a BW transmission.


17 Comments on “Automatic Transmission in DJ-3As, DJs and Others(?)



  2. Keith


    Are you sure that photo of the Yellow Jeep is a DJ3A?
    Sure looks like Tremaine Cooper’s RHD DJ6.

  3. Dave from Mn

    So does anyone know if Jeep used someone else’s bell housing for this ? Sorta in the market for a bell for a project idea. Someone repowering and have parts for sale?

  4. SteveK

    FYI… I used to have a 55 Olds with “Hydramatic”, and it was a 4 speed auto trans. First gear was part of Low and could not be controlled. Then there was 3rd=D1 and 4th=D2. With a 3.23 rear gear, low-low would really launch that 4000# Olds V8 when floored, and got 20 MPG highway too.

    I “heard” but have no “proof” that what Willys used was a smaller lighter 2 speed GM Powerglide. I’m curious why there was no PARK as both had? Interesting topic. Interesting topic. Unfortunately too late to help a friend of mine that a couple of years ago physically needed to convert to auto and couldn’t find proper info for it. He ended up selling his DJ.

  5. SteveK

    Sorry guys, web kept saying “Error” you already said that” so I kept trying variations, then they “all” showed up??????????????????????

  6. Dave from Mn

    I know late 60’s d100 dispatcher used gm 4 cylinder and power glide. Fj’s used a Borg Warner unit.

  7. colin peabody

    OK, listen up everyone-

    The Yellow DJ3A that was advertised from New Jersey, that had been a city operated Bug sprayer, with right hand drive and the automatic transmission, had the B-W automatic transmission in it. Serial Number 8202 23905, eng. # 3J175662. I had correspondence with the fellow from the Los Angeles Fire Dept(Dean La Chasse) who eventually bought it and I have photos, the same as what SteveK showed. This yellow DJ3A was converted to left hand drive by the LA Fire fighter and he also used the automatic B-W transmission, but moved the controls to the left side. During his conversion, he repainted it in Navy Grey with USN stenciling and then put it up for sale in June 2018.. These two Jeeps are the same Jeep. I had followed this Jeep from the time it was first advertised for sale back in about 2010. It was not originally a United States Navy Jeep. It is out there someplace, but I don’t know where.

  8. SteveK

    Great history of that yellow/gray DJ Colin. Here’s some History of the “hydramatic” which may be more than you all may want to know, but it does reference Willys and others using the Hydramatic as ‘development’ occurred, as well as why/how there was no “park” on the early models. Spoiler alert… Reverse was used after engine was turned off to lock the drivetrain.

  9. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Colin: I know you’d commented on that yellow one several times now (I should have just copied and pasted your comment into the post).

    Steve: That’s for continuing to dig on the BW model. My searches so far haven’t yielded any results for a BW transmission lacking a “Park”.

    Kieth: I don’t think I have any pics of Tremaine’s DJ-6 (I could, of course, kick myself for not getting up to see him in 2019 when I was in Virginia). I wasn’t aware he owned a DJ-6 with an automatic.

  10. david sapp

    yes, that is a photo of the bw model 12, basic to the fordamatic used the 50s and the fmx in later fords. I have never seen one without park, however would be easy to leave out the park pawl. many auto companies used bw units, and 4spd hydramatics. Willys used the hydramatic behind the 226 in their cars. always thought it would be a neat conversion in a Willys 226 4wd wagon. my 53 gmc suburban has a factory hydramatic.

  11. Ted Robinette

    Doesn’t appear to have been mentioned yet but the bellhousing shown in the FJ supplement book scans above and other photos is machined from a casting that can be drilled to suit two different types of engines.

    It has a starter motor pocket on both sides and extra bosses for alternative bell to adapter plate or engine bolt positions. The closeness of the two uppermost ones suggest it could also be drilled to suit the L226 (Kaiser) bolt pattern. Likewise the extra bosses cast lower down on the sides. The starter motor pocket on the left side (of the photo) is also positioned to suit a L226 engine.

    Of course the Willys Aero cars used a Hydramatic and not the Borg Warner M12 automatic so why cast the bellhousing to suit two applications? A clue could be that Checker Motor Co. (Cabs/Taxi) used the Borg Warner automatic behind the Continental 226 powering their 1956 Checker Model A8 cab calling it the Drivermatic option. They continued to use it until adopting the Hydramatic complete with Chevy engines.
    Sales brochures depict Checker still using the Warner auto a few years later behind the L226 as well as their optional OHV converted 226 Continental engine. However sales brochures often reflect marketing hype more than reality.
    Checker used Willys headlight bezels and Kaiser Henry J parking lights so there was some collaboration going on between them.

    Detailed info on the Checker installations, especially on the OHV 226 engine, evades my internet searches so I can’t be more definitive. Pity because a Checker OHV 226 engine would be a neat swap into a Willys.

  12. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks for the sharing Ted. Very interesting insights. I’m not familiar at all with the Checker’s use of the BW transmission. Maybe someone else can add additional information.

    – Dave

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