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Transaxle


A transaxle, in the automotive field, is a component that combines the functionality of the transmission, the differential and the drive axle into one integrated assembly. Transaxles are near universal in all automobile configurations that have the engine placed at the same end of the car as the driven wheels: the front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and mid-engined arrangements.

Many mid and rear-engined vehicles use a transverse engine and transaxle, similar to a front wheel drive unit. Others use both a longitudinal engine and transaxle. Ferrari's 1989 Mondial t introduced a "t" arrangement with a longitudinal engine connected to a transverse transaxle, a design the company continues to this day.

FR transaxles

Motor Life magazine cover, showing rear view of 1961 Pontiac Tempest chassis, with rear transaxle and front engine.

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. This design was pioneered in the 1950 Lancia Aurelia, and was conceived by the legendary Vittorio Jano. Earlier vehicles had used similar designs, including the 1914 Stutz Bearcat.

Notable FR vehicles with a transaxle design include: