I’ve already gone over my reasons for choosing to install a Lokar cable-operated floor shifter for my automatic 700R4 transmission, so now prepare with me to install it. If you don’t regularly follow along here on GreaseGirl, note that I’m in a constant learning process about cars and mechanics – this is the first time I’ve installed a floor shifter on my own, so read this not as an expert’s guide but as an average car hobbyist’s experience.

1. Read the Instructions


First things first, read the instructions fully before doing anything. Make sure you have all the parts and tools necessary. When doing a job for the first time, like me on this cable-shifter install, be sure that you have a thorough understanding of what is being done BEFORE you get started. I know this may sound like it doesn’t need to be said… but you’d be surprised how many operate in “dummy-mode” and just want to blindly follow instructions, if they even get around to reading them. Mechanical work is no time to put on a “dummy” hat – there are so many variables to keep in mind that you must always be on your toes, working with both attention to small details as well as keeping the big picture in mind!

2. Wrap Your Head Around the Big Picture

To begin, here’s the overview of how a cable-operated shifter connects to an automatic transmission and the basic steps involved in installing one in your car.




Working on old “hot rods” means you’ve got a set-up that is usually very unique. It isn’t like you can walk into an Auto Zone, tell them your make and model, and get the part you need! So when you’re installing hot rod parts, keep in mind that they’ve been created to suit a number of different car makes and models – so don’t expect them to always (if ever!) be able to simply bolt-and-go. In my Studebaker, I’m changing from a column-shifter originally intended for manual transmission that was retrofitted to link up with my 700R4 automatic transmission.

So my first step was removing the column shift lever from my steering column. While I suppose I could leave it there if I wanted, having an extra lever coming off my steering wheel that wasn’t necessary seems kind of silly to me. Looking up on the handy Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC) forum, I was able to double check on removing my Studebaker’s column shift lever. It just takes removing the pin that secures the lever to the car, then jiggling it a bit until it disengages, and then the lever should be released.

3. Locate Best Placement on Floor and Attach

Lokar-floor-mounted-cable-shifter-installation-beginner-how-to-06Next, I needed to confirm where on the floor I wanted to mount the new Lokar floor shifter. Before ordering this part, I had already confirmed that it would fit on my car and that I wouldn’t need to alter my front seat at all (some applications require a cut-out to be made in the orignal seats). In my original post about deciding on this cable-operated Lokar floor shifter I explained my reasoning for going with cable rather than direct linkages. When possible, a direct linkage set-up is most ideal.

Above the floor, make sure that the shifter can move through all the gears without impediment and that it’s at a comfortable location from the driver’s seat. Below the floor, ensure that the lever has room to connect to the cable above your transmission and take into account the geometry directions given in the instructions.

4. Get the Started on the Right Foot

Before going any further and actually starting the work of the cable-operated floor shifter install, I want to be sure you don’t make a couple of mistakes that I did. One, because I hastily used an improper tool and two, because my exhaust set-up didn’t allow for enough clearance for the “cable” part of the shifter.

Tools Needed for This Job

Basic Tool Set: The actual shifter components mostly all go together with an allen wrench, but for adjusting you’ll need a larger size wrench as well (I believe it was 3/4″).

Power Drill: For the holes to secure the shifter to your floorpan as well as attaching some brackets underneath. Be sure you’ve got the correct diameter of drill bit for your application as well.

Heavy-Duty Scissors or Box Cutter: You’ve got to cut that carpet somehow. Heavy-Duty scissors provide more control than a box cutter blade… plus they’re one of the best $20 tool purchases I’ve made!

Cut-Off Wheel: Something like this Chicago Pneumatic power tool will do the job. There are a number of different tools you can use to make the cuts necessary in your floorpan to accommodate the shift lever, and I’m certainly no expert in this arena. The hasty mistake I made was using a tool I had available in my garage (an air hammer with cutting attachment) instead of waiting to borrow something which would do the job properly. My cut resulted in horribly jagged edges, which at the time I said “nobody will see them” – but after the fact, I was really disappointed in my choice.

Ensuring You’ve Got Needed Clearance


My dual-pipe exhaust was squeezed very tightly past my transmission and on either side of my driveshaft. So much so, that once I’d installed the cable-operated floor shifter I realized that there was no way for the cable to be routed where it wasn’t touching the exhaust (photo on the right). While a distance between the cable and exhaust wasn’t stated explicitly in the instructions, the cable is surrounded in a rubbery material which will melt with too much heat (I found this out the hard way!) My solution involved heading to the exhaust man and having a section re-routed further from the transmission, and then wrapping the exhaust in heat wrap and the cable in heat tape for added security… as they are still quite close (photo on the left)! While this won’t be a concern if you’ve got a truck or something with tons of space, before buying parts and making plans… make sure you’ve got space for the clearance needed in your specific vehicle.


Okay, now that we’re thoroughly prepared, it’s time to get dirty! Click here to continue on to the INSTALL DIY post…

4 Responses

    • Kristin Cline

      Thank you! This one has been a loooonnnnggg haul, but it’s gonna be worth it!

      • jamesowensart

        Dig it! I’m getting ready to put one of these in my Hudson. Thanks for blogging this. James Owens (Artist at Large)

      • Kristin Cline

        Happy coincidence James! I also just published the actual install DIY, check it out. I still love my Rosie painting every time I see it, shoot over any cool new series you’re doing that you think I should share!

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