You have power, you have control...now you need to deliver the power to the wheels. The AE102 does this through 4 transaxle options: C50 5-speed manual, C52 5-speed manual, A131L 3-speed automatic, and A245E 4-speed automatic.
The manual transaxle is a compact, two-piece, lightweight aluminum alloy housing containing both the transmission and differential assemblies. The C50 and C52 manual transaxles are essentially the same. Both are carried over from previous Corolla designs. The C50 is used with the 4A-FE engines while the C52 is used with the 7A-FE engines. The reason for this (I believe) is because the C52 has stronger input and output shafts with larger diameter bearings on some of the gears and updated synchros. The C52 also has a different first-gear ratio (with all the other gear ratios being the same). In addition, it has starter mounting bosses on both sides of the bellhousing (good after you have melted several starters mounted on the exhaust side of the engine). As you can probably tell, the C52 is the better one. As an extra bit of information, in the past, C50s typically came with 4A-GEs with a smaller diameter clutch than later (87+) 4A-GEs that came with C52s.
The A131L is a 3-speed automatic transaxle with its shift points controlled by the governor and the throttle valve. Having only 3 speeds is quite...lacking. The A245E is an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transaxle with fourth-gear being an overdrive gear (gear ratio less than unity). Overdrive is great for lazy highway runs. Shifts are attained by the use of shift solenoids which are controlled by the Powertrain Control Module. Both transaxles utilize a lock-up torque converter. I find these automatics to be too conservative. They shift too early, failing to utilize the power higher up in the band, and the kickdown is too slow to respond. Once again, the A131L is used with the 4A-FE while the A245E is used with the 7A-FE. (I really dislike the 4A-FE.)
Now to discuss mods to the drivetrain. I haven't really done a lot in this area, so I can't say much. Various clutch upgrades are available, such as from Centerforce, ACT, and Broward (and maybe RPS). TRD has a close-ratio kit for the C52 if you want to shift a lot. =) This would actually be quite nice if you could get a sixth gear. If you mod your engine extensively, the C52 will most likely be able to handle it. I'm not sure about the C50, however. I'm not sure about the A131L either. For that matter, I don't know how much power the A245E can handle. Anyone have any ideas? The point is: If you're putting down good power, make sure your tranny can handle it...some strengthening may be required. The C52 is the best bet as a starting point. As for mods to the automatics, I currently know of none other than using race ATF (Redline, B&M Trick Shift, etc.) or swapping in a C52. =) If anyone else knows of more, please do tell.
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