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Period correct shifters for automatics?... and stall converters

4808 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Cruizer65
Anyone remember what, if any aftermarket shifters were available in the mid to late 60's Gasser era?

I'm shooting for a 4-speed in my Falcon, but necessity and/or budget might call for an automatic, and I'm trying to keep the project generally period correct where I can.

From what I've found in some pics from back then, there were a few shifters with neutral safety and reverse lockouts, but what about ratchet action to keep from sloppy skipping of gears in the heat of competition.

I remember in high school, a friend had a truck with a nasty small block and one of the early, very basic, Hurst Indy automatic shifters in it, and almost every time he'd nail it and shift from low to 2nd, the jerk back from catching 2nd gear would cause him to pull it back into low, and we'd end up with our faces in the dashboard while the engine screamed back into low gear, which also often caused him to throw the shifter all the way to neutral, causing more revs with little forward motion, at which point I'd usually slink down and sit on the floor of the truck where no one could see me.

Later that year, ('79) I bought a 440 Six-Pack Challenger R/T, and miracle of miracles, it had a factory "Slap-Stick" ratchet shifter in the console! If I remember right, it was about then, give-or-take a few years, B&M and automatics came into their own with Z-Gates and QuickSilver ratchet shifters, shift kits and stall converters became all the rage.....but how far back did automatic technology go? When did the first ratchet shifters and stall converters make the drag scene?

You got to really respect the old Dodge boys Super Stockers and AFX'ers that WFO dragged with those push-button Torque-Flight autos back in the day. Can you imagine, trying to point your finger and poke a button barely the size of a dime while getting pushed back in your seat getting sideways down the track at 6,000 RPMs??
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I scored this '60s Hurst Promatic.

Im only using the cover. Wifey's car is running a 'glide,but the cover is big enough to hide the "Quarter Stick"
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Those old PB 727 Torqueflites actually worked quite well if you relocated the pushbutton panel to a normal console position. I helped a friend of mine put an old 413 Mopar and TF in his '55 Chevy back in 1966, and we took a piece of steel tube and mounted it to the trans tunnel, then made a plate to bolt the old pushbuttons to so he could shift it easily.
I'm using a newer B&M Mega Shifter, that's rachet or regular, and this is one area I wont go nostalgic on, as the old shifters all had issues that could mean a overevved engine, or blown trans. I simply built a aluminum bow to cover the shifter guts, as I didn't like the modern look of the B&M plastic box. It works great, and that's more important to me.
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Yeah, safety will always have priority over originality or period correct. I just missed bidding on one of those Hurst ProMatics on ebay last month. I'll have to keep my eye open

So, any history of stall converters?
Hydros have been around since the late 50's, and even back then people had high stall converters. They were usually stock converters that were disected and reworked to higher stalls then. Nowadays the std. 3 speed automatic that mates to whatever brand engine you use is the trans and converter of choice. Trannies being under the car and hard to see allow some leeway to use something modern and not have to run down an expensive old Hydromatic.
I think if I end up going automatic, I'll pick up one of the ProMatic 2's, (since the original PM's seem to be a rare find), set aside the modern case, and mount the guts in a homemade sheetmetal box. From the looks of it, the PM-2's shifter can unbolt from the works, and I'd probably convert a short, straight Hurst 4-speed shifter and an era specific shift knob to give it a period correct aesthetic, with the modern ratchet action hidden inside.

Shift knobs are always a fun subject with Gassers.....the 60's and 70's had such a unique and interesting variety. The classic 8-ball, The skull, Hurst T-handles,.....even saw someone selling metalflake colored Hurst T's on ebay. And a lot of people created some interesting homemade shifter knobs

Though I'm sure it's been done before, here's something I've been thinking of converting into a shifter knob....

Although, maybe using a grenade as a shift knob for a high performance transmission is just tempting ironic fate! LOL
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