When you think of the little Saginaw transmission, your first thought may not be racing-but maybe it should be. After all, if you're racing a Street Stock class that requires you to run an OEM transmission with few modifications, a Saginaw may be your best bet.

Lots of entry-level racing classes have rules intended to keep racers from using expensive high-end parts or spending lots of money modifying stock pieces. As a result, the rulebook often says you have to run a transmission that appeared as original equipment in the car you are racing and all forward gears, as well as Reverse, must be operable. We've even heard of racetracks that have put in a $250 claim rule for transmissions.

If that's the case, then the Saginaw-with just three forward gears-already has a lighter rotating mass than just about any other trans you'll find. They appeared in a wide variety of General Motors products, including Novas, Camaros, Firebirds, vans, trucks, and others. So finding a core in a junkyard is still relatively easy. It will also bolt right up to a standard Chevy small-block bellhousing.

And finally, it's dead simple-at least as far as transmissions go-so just about any mechanically minded person can rebuild one if he or she is careful. With that in mind, we dragged the camera over to Jim Cook Racing Transmissions and got some shots while he tore down and rebuilt a transmission for a Street Stock racer. Cook also shared a lot of quality tips for working with these transmissions which we will pass on to you.

One quirk of the Saginaw is that the cast iron housing is quite heavy. But fortunately, it mounts low and in the center of the car, so if you're going to have to use heavy components, this is definitely the place to do it.

If you do consider rebuilding your own Saginaw, just make sure to take plenty of pictures during the teardown. This will help you remember where everything goes when it comes time to put it back together. You should be able to find stock replacement parts at your local parts house or even a Chevrolet dealer, but Cook also has rebuild kits available with upgraded components specifically for Saginaws. That way you can get just the stuff you need and don't have to worry if the 16-year-old kid behind the counter was looking at the right screen on the computer when he pulled your parts.