A Dying Art

The 18 Most Gorgeous Shifters to Ever Grace an Automobile

December 18, 2019 Cars By Photo by Chris Delorenzo
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Not only is the manual transmission creeping closer to extinction by the day, the actual art of shift lever design is all but lost as well. The shift lever is one of the driver’s main points of interaction with the car; just as much thought should go into its placement, ergonomics and design as do the pedals and steering wheel. The shifter is, literally and figuratively, the centerpiece of a car’s cabin — it should look the part.

2002 NSX-R

The titanium shift knob and mesh boot was an exercise in weight savings, but it also made for one good-looking shifter.

1938 Delahaye 165 Cabriolet

You have to respect the column shifter.

2007 Ferrari 599

The 599 was the last Ferrari to have a gated-shifter. Never has the end of an era looked so good.

1970 Dodge Challenger Hurst Pistol Grip

Old West overtones aside, the pistol-grip is the most comfortable shifter you’ll ever lay a hand on.

2006 Giugiaro Mustang

A connecting rod shifter — got to love it.

1970 Datsun 240Z

There’s nothing like the feel of a bare wood shifter in the palm.

2016 Volvo XC90

Modern art.

2004 Porsche Carrera GT

A call back to the beechwood shifters of the 917 race cars, it’s lightweight and good-looking, too.

1967 Toyota 2000GT

Simply elegant.

1955 Mercedes 300SL

A no-frills shift knob perfectly balances the ostentatiousness of gullwing doors.

2016 Pagani Huayra

The auto-interior equivalent of a tourbillon.

1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

Jean Bugatti wasn’t going to phone in any detail of the 57SC Atlantic, no matter how small.

1975 Mk1 Golf

Golf, get it?

2000 BMW M3

An illuminated shift pattern may be pointless, but damn if it isn’t cool.

1966 Lamborghini Miura

Ferruccio Lamborghini’s famous spat with Enzo Ferrari was over a transmission, so it makes sense the Miura’s shifter looks so good.

2001 Honda Civic Type-R

An unconventional placement seen in very few other cars — the Porsche Carrera GT being another — puts this Civic in good company.

2006 Audi R8

One of the last great gated shifters.

1970 Alfa Romeo Montreal

There’s absolutely no need for that much leather, but “restraint” isn’t in Alfa Romeo’s vocabulary.

Engine Bay Porn

You’ll find that if a car’s engine — as well as the bay it sits — is beautiful, then the rest of the car’s design follows suit. Read the Story

Bryan Campbell

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