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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Lokar Muscle Car Shifter Installation - 1967 Chevelle

8/31/2020
Best Interior Product – SEMA 2016

I’ve often said that if I wouldn’t use it myself on my own vehicle, I won’t push it on customers. It’s that kind of “skin in the game” mentality that our industry was built upon. Most times, in the old days, a new product was an evolution from something that started life on a race car or street rod that was owned by or worked on by the inventor. This particular portion of the Chevelle project was along those lines. I wanted the final result to look like a factory equipped four speed, bench seat car. I had one limitation, I wanted the car to remain an automatic so my wife could use it reliably as a commuter car through the stop and go traffic that she encounters.

That left me with a unique problem to solve. I don’t like the look of most automatic floor shifters for a muscle car or sixties vintage setting. I had an idea that if you could build an adapter for a Lokar shifter that would eliminate the center button and mimic the look of a finger triggered lockout on sixties Muncie shifters, we’d have a home run.

Brian Downard of Lokar and I went to work on batting back and forth a design that fit the bill. And as it turned out, it struck a high note with other car folks. Out of 3000 entries, the Lokar 8" Single Bend Muscle Car Shifter took home one of the 30 SEMA new product awards in 2016.

Newly energized from such an industry honor, I went home to start figuring out how I’d use it in my own project.

I suppose I could’ve just bolted the shifter to the floor and utilized a stitched leather boot to cover the mechanical workings and very few people would’ve noticed. By now I’m sure you understand that I couldn’t just let it be that easy.

Instead, I chose to mount the shifter inside of a factory stick-shift floor pan section. This is a part that’s easily available for the repair or replacement of your original gear-car’s rotted or butchered floorboard. In my application, this panel could house and secure the shifter body and then bolt to the floor in the correct location for a floor shift manual. It took a little bit of measuring and test fitting to come up with a good system of bolting the shifter to the sheet metal dome.

That started with trimming out the top of the housing to fit the shifter. 1/8” steel flat stock was also added to the underside to strengthen the mounting points. These bars were welded to the bottom side of the sheet metal dome to provide a solid mounting point for the Lokar shifter.

Once that was accomplished I had to do a small amount of hammer work on the transmission tunnel to accommodate the inside edge of the shifter body. With proper clearance, the floor was marked for a slot that the shifter arm would travel through.

I topped off the setup with a rubber shift boot and trim ring that are actually for a 1962 - 1967 Chevy II but I liked the look, size and fit of these parts better for my application. The boot provides a cover for the upper part of the shifter assembly, allowing the charade to go mostly undetected. All in all, the illusion works pretty well. Once carpeted, it should be right at home in this more than meets the eye resto-mod.

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