Why the Switch?


When Studebaker got on the road way-back-when (7 years!), I’d insisted on making the original column shifter work. Being that it was originally linked to a manual Studebaker transmission and needed to be retrofitted to my automatic 700R4, it worked but it never worked well. At first I took it as one of those enduring traits, a nuance that only I, it’s rightful owner, knew how to deal with – if a stranger had gotten into my car they would have had an issue getting it into gear, it just took a very special touch.

Eventually that “special touch” had degraded into 5-minute battles jolting the shift lever this way and that to get it into Park or Reverse (god forbid I needed to make a 3-point turn or parallel park!) The shifter was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back for this whole Operation Stude to happen! Even though the engine work was badly needed, THIS is the core issue that made me send Studie to the garage.

Choosing a Solution


What were my alternatives? I could simply try to make the retrofit work better (I’d of course checked into the linkages already). Or I could also swap the entire column out to a different one – vintage or modern. But it was the floor shifter which I eventually decided upon. When I was first putting my car together I liked the idea of keeping the inside as original as possible as well as keeping the floor space clear – but those things aren’t as important to me anymore. Besides, a floor shifter can be a fun driving experience and it provides another bit to personalize (I have big plans to create an amazing custom shift knob… but I’m getting ahead of myself).

When it comes to floor shifters there are a number of options to think about. Where are the linkage levers on the transmission, and where would any given shifter need to come up out of your floor? Will it fit with your current seat? A direct connection shifter has some flexibility of where brackets are placed, and is the most preferable way to go, but space issues as well as forward-thinking towards changing out my drivetrain in the future led me to choose the increased flexibility of a cable-operated shifter.

A cable-operated shifter means that the portion connecting the shift lever to the actual transmission is a cable instead of a series of rods.

Making the Shift


Although I’ve changed my transmission and helped Ethan install a B&M cable-shifter in the Falcon earlier this year, I’m coming at this job as a cable-shift install beginner. I decided to go with Lokar because they’ve got a solid reputation in the hot rod world and their products are both good looking and high quality. After looking over their various shifter heights, I measured out what I thought would fit comfortably in my Stude and chose to go with the 16″ Standard Cable Operated Automatic Trans Shifter 700-R4 (Part # COS6700B) with Mushroom knob. While Lokar’s shift knobs have a fantastic finish and feel to them, ya’ll voted that I create a custom knob in an earlier post – I’ve been brainstorming up a great idea for that and will be adding it along with Lokar’s custom shift knob adapter a little later.

As soon as the box of parts arrived and I put my hands on it, I was super stoked about my choice to go with Lokar. It feels solid and well-engineered to work with a lot of different set-ups. I laid everything out on my front seat and began reading instructions. Although complete, I did have to read and re-read them – making sure that I understood what needed cutting and where things needed to be before tearing into the metal of Stude’s floor.

I’ll return next week for a post on the Lokar cable operated automatic transmission shifter install, until then – let me know if you have any specific questions OR leave some advice from when you did this yourself!

2 Responses

    • Kristin Cline

      Yes! I actually took a vote for what I should do for this shift knob – and ya’ll voted I create my own custom one. I have an awesome idea, but is (of course) quite out of the box… so that will be coming to a Studebaker near you after she’s solidly back on the road!


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