Knobs & Shafts: Here are 5 of the most interesting and unique gear shifters
Here we take a look at five of the automotive industry's weirdest and most unique gear-shifters and transmissions
5. Spyker C8 6-Speed Manual
Spyker C8 exposed linkage
The C8 was released by Dutch automaker, Spyker in the year 2000. It featured Audi's 4.2-litre V8 mated to an 6-speed Audi transaxle. The naked gear-linkage runs right through the middle of the cabin and very much adds a bit of bling to appeal to the early 00's supercar. The 400bhp mid-engined Spyker certainly stands out in the looks department, and its gear-shifter is no exception.
4. Abarth 695 Biposto 'Dog Ring' Gearbox
Abarth 5-speed 'Dog Ring' gearbox
The Abarth 695 biposto is the hottest, most track-focused, version of the 500 lineup. Offered as an £8,500 optional extra was this 5-speed 'Dog-Ring' gearbox. This gearbox has no synchromesh cones to bridge the gap between gear speeds. The gears have very large 'dog teeth' which mean that the gears are either disengaged or fully engaged. To change gear the driver has to double de-clutch or make sure to match engine speed with gear speed. In other words, it's not a gearbox for your grandmother.
3. Chevrolet's Horseshoe Ratchet (1968-1972)
Chevrolet Camaro Horseshoe Ratchet
When you think of old American muscle cars, you probably imagine a big V8 mated to a classic H-pattern manual. In 1968, Chevrolet had other ideas when they placed this 'Horseshoe Ratchet' shifter in the Camaro, Cheville, Monte Carlo and Impala. Whilst being quite unconventional, the selector had a very satisfying and clunky pull. The 3-speed box was not renowned for coping well with high performance driving, and many have fitted upgrade kits to improve the overall usability.
2. Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Gear Selector
Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
Yes, it looks like someone stole the shaft. That little marble lying in the centre-console is indeed a gear selector. In the CLK GTR, it has the complicated job of selecting 'drive' and 'reverse'. Then it leaves the tricky shifting to the paddles behind the steering wheel. Either way, it's an unique design in a pretty savage car. Who knows why it has no shaft? Maybe it was for weight saving.
1. 1930's Cord 'Preselector'
Cord Preselector Gearbox
What you see before you is the miniature H-pattern 'preselector' gear shifter from the luxury car maker: Cord. Founded in 1929, this American manufacturer rivalled the likes of Lincoln and Cadillac. The idea of this preselector was that the driver would choose which gear he wanted, and then the car would get it ready for when the clutch pedal is pressed. It seems unnecessarily complicated and never really caught on. It, perhaps, is why Cord didn't make it out of the 1930's. None the less, it looks very elegant and is a very interesting piece of engineering.
Which one of these transmissions would you like to experience? Would you like to see more interesting gear-levers fitted to modern cars? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.