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Corvette Saginaw 3-Speed Transmissions 1955 Through 1963 Saginaw 3-Speed The 3-speed transmission that Chevrolet used before 1964 was a Saginaw design that had been around since the 1940s. This transmission is side-loaded with a side lever shift, and is found in all early 3-speed applications. Identifying features include a three-step countershaft cluster with the small step in the center, and a clutch-style synchronizer externally splined for the first and reverse shift gear. It is not easily distinguished from the 1964 and later Saginaw 3-speeds, but it is slightly smaller overall and has different gear helix angles. Externally, this transmission can