There are certain pieces in hot rodding that reign supreme, they're king, top of the heap, and there's no chance of dethroning them. Be it a full-house Flathead, the big, bad Hemi, or the entire '32 Ford family of cars, certain iconic pieces of hot rodding endure. When it comes to third members, the quick-change rear will forever be king.

How can anything top the quick-change? After all it has unsurpassed good looks, its function and versatility are legendary, and it even sings to you when you're driving. That's a lot to ask of a pile of gears and two axles. Like most hot rod parts and pieces the quick-change rearend evolved over time. In early hot rodding, homemade quick-change rears were found using the centersection of a flanged early Ford rear axle assembly and others used 3/4-ton truck gears. That was followed by a cast-aluminum centersection with Halibrand Engineering being the early pioneer for quick-change rearends. But like all hot rod parts soon there was competition in the rear axle field and Frankland, Winters, and others were soon making their own versions of quick-change rearends, and today's offerings are far superior to those early versions.

While these rearends were originally designed for racing, today finding a quick-change rear end under a street rod is as much a cosmetic statement as a performance statement. In the early days dropping in a set of race gears for the dry lakes, Bonneville, or the local drags was important because many hot rods were also the owner's only mode of transportation. Oval racers loved the quick-change because they could select the perfect gear ratio for track configuration.

Today one of the leaders in the industry is Winters Performance Products in York, Pennsylvania. While they still service a huge contingent of racers, they are also very in-tune with the street rod crowd and their special needs. It was this awareness of street rodding needs that inspired Winters to release a new, tapered tube quick-change rearend and frankly, it's simply a thing of beauty that looks absolutely correct under any hot rod, but we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

Buying a quick-change rear involves choices and when we began speaking with the good folks at Winters is became apparent there are many choices available to provide a cool quick-change rear for every street rod application. From vintage to high tech there is a quick-change rear prepared to handle your horsepower needs.

The V-8 Center Kit
Two things to consider when selecting the rear gear for your car is the weight of the finished car and the horsepower of the engine (and allow for any future engine mods). If you're running a lightweight car, say 2,500 pounds or less with vintage power of under 300 horses you might consider the Winters V-8 Center kit. This quick-change centersection is machined to accept classic early Ford axle tubes and stock-style Ford axles. The kit was developed in conjunction with Dick Spadaro and is sold exclusively through his shop, Dick Spadaro Early Ford Reproductions. The unit is based on an 8-3/8-inch, 3.78 ring-and-pinion with a heat-treated lower shaft and a stock-style differential. The kit ships with one set of straight-cut final gears in the ratio of your choice. For early hot rods the use of an early Ford bell axle housing will look very traditional painted or chrome plated. If you're up to the task you'll end up with a quick-change rear suitable for that Flathead-powered roadster.