Jamie Passon’s Mopar roots run deep. His immersion into the wonderful world of muscle Mopars can be traced back to his Dad’s purchase of a ’65 street wedge Plymouth. After some years, and much fun of ownership, the senior Mr. Passon let the old Satellite take up residence in a family property barn. Years went by and the car collected dust until 13-year-old Jamie and his brother decided to revive the old girl for their Dad’s upcoming 50th birthday. A Mopar maniac was born as the young Passon helped his brother get the Satellite road-worthy once again.
Jamie figures his interest and passion for Chrysler’s 4-speed New Process transmission sparked when a pilot bearing issue reared its head in a Dodge Dart he owned and raced. The intricacies of solving the problem, which required a bit of home-spun engineering, was intoxicating and soon he was tearing apart 4-speeds to see what made them tick. Along with helping others figure out their shifty challenges.
Above: The car that started it all for Jamie Passon, his father’s ’65 Plymouth Satellite, which grew into a small fleet of Mopars for the Passon clan. Dad did race it on a rare occasion back in the day but never really competitively.
Above: The White ’65 Satellite is still in the family, which is impressive considering how Jamie and his brother treated it in their youth. The car still has less than 20,000 miles on it and has the original paint and interior.
Above left: This is a semi current (about 2 years old) picture of Jamie’s ’70 Dart. It has (of course) an A-833 4 speed in it. The Dart runs high tens. Above center: Jamie also has managed to keep his first car, a ’72 Barracuda. Above right: Jamie is hard at work and doesn’t have time for our foolishness. Smile!
Jamie put together some rebuilt units for re-sale and found that the market was there for his tough transmissions. A friend’s tent at Carlisle provided a venue to launch into the hobby at large. From those beginnings, grew the business we know today as Passon Performance, one of the most innovative and knowledgeable companies in the Mopar world.
The Passon Performance product portfolio includes rebuild kits, conversion packages for automatic-to-manual, shifters, and A-833 parts. But if you think this is some mail-order parts kit company, you are quite wrong. Innovation is part and parcel of the Passon name. “Our goal is to keep pushing the envelope, with products that make sense for people who really want to get the most out their Mopars. It’s bigger than parts,” says Jamie.
Above left: Large Mopar events are always big business for Passon, and the team brings out a large spread of transmissions in a variety of completion. Above right: Passon Performance are authorized by Hurst to rebuild the factory shifters in house. The demand for authorized Hurst shifters is high, and even with this many prepped shifters for a show, they usually sell out.
Above: The vast majority of Passon’s work is focused on restoring vintage Mopar manuals, be them 18 or 23-spline A-833 4-speeds or even A-230 3-speeds.
Above: Many looking to restore their classic Mopar, or those wanting to change from an automatic to a manual turn to Passon Performance for all of their 4-speed needs.
Their dedication to the Mopar manual transmission knows no bounds. Want proof? How about the only overdrive transmisions based on the tough Hemi 18-spline A-833. It corrects all the problems associated with Ma Mopar’s original over-baked overdrive (in fact, there’s no comparison). “It can be installed in your factory case with just a gasket set. It’s for the people who actually want to use their cars. It makes a Mopar that much more enjoyable on long trips. Highway cruising becomes a joy and it’s pretty much unbreakable.”
Passon Performance also has a proprietary, patented aluminum case 5-speed designed by Jamie and his crew that represents the epitome in shift-it-yourself Mopar technology. This is a clean sheet product, designed and built at Passon’s own shop in Pennsylvania. “We could pretty much sell every one of these we make,” says Jamie. “The demand is high. From pro-touring cars to rotisserie restorations, it really doesn’t matter – our 5-gear makes it modern.” And it’s completely engineered to mate with all the mounting apparatus of a vintage Mopar – from the flywheel on back, it’s a basic bolt-in.
Above: Here is a 4-speed cutaway transmission that Passon made patterned after the cutaway engines back in the day.
Above: Passon stocks quite a bit of original, numbers-matching parts to properly restore its customers’ transmissions back to as-factory condition…or better!
Above: Passon products have found their way into top level builds include Pure Vision’s “Hammer” ’70 Plymouth Road Runner, which was most famously seen in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.
By now you should be getting the sense that Passon is the ultimate craftsman. “Everything we make has to work for our customers. Not everybody can bring their car to our shop and have their trans installed or converted from automatic to manual. It has to be perfect – like a factory install.”
This attention to detail is what sets Passon products apart. Everything goes in like it was done by Chrysler itself. Their 4-speed conversion kit, once installed, results in a car that looks like it was manually-equipped from day one. And every piece Passon produces is Made In The USA parts and steel. “We believe in providing products that are made right here. It can be a challenge, but it is one of our core values.”
Jamie Passon has built a company with determination and know-how that any car enthusiast can admire. And he’s built it around something we all love: rowing your own gears in a Mopar!