When you consider how important the functionality of a shifter is when operated behind a high-performance engine, then figure in the aesthetic and tactile impact on your senses, it's a wonder they don't cost many times as much as they do. Just think about it this way: How many bolt-on parts are there for a couple hundred dollars that can transform a car so significantly—even on the lowliest junkyard jalopy?

Yet in spite of their visual appeal and our dependence on their reliability, it seems like most people don't give a second thought to picking a shifter—when they even pick one at all. And while shifters for automatic transmissions are certainly one of the most pervasive commodities in the muscle car marketplace, there's no reason for treating the purchase of your cog selector as cavalierly as shopping for bread and eggs. After the steering wheel, the shifter is the main point of interface with your car—something car designers call a touch point.

Aesthetics aside, aftermarket shifters exist for a reason—they prevent errors in gear selection that can result in engine or driveline damage, and they can even prevent bodily damage. OEM shifters are designed to select the gear range while the car is stopped—set it and forget it. On rare occasions, an OE gear selector might be carefully moved at a modest speed, but not at or near the redline of a high-performance engine. Accidentally overshifting into Neutral, concentrating too hard on watching the gearshift indicator, or downshifting too many gears can lead to disaster, so don't chance it. Get a shifter that's gated for safety, and that has a confidence-inspiring linkage that you don't need to focus your eyes on at triple-digit speeds.

We've collected our favorite automatic shifters here—16 in all. They all offer safe, gated operation with a rock-solid feel for high-performance use, and we've included units at a variety of styles and price points. Don't trust the ancient gear selector in your classic to protect your driveline investment—check one of these out, and let the good times roll! —Johnny Hunkins


ATI PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS

Automatic Shifter

Born in the pits at national event-level drag races, the ATI shifter is a gate-type unit with extremely smooth action. It uses high-quality parts throughout, comes with a Morse cable, and it'll work on any two- or three-speed automatic transmission. The shifter assembly is 15.25 inches long, 5.5 inches wide, and 9.25 inches tall, if space is a concern. It looks full-race, too.

Applications: Powerglide, TH350, TH400, 700-R4, Ford C6, C4, Chrysler TorqueFlite 727 and 904.

Street price: $265 (C4 with reverse pattern)

Source:
ATI Performance Products
877-298-5039
www.ATIRacing.com


B&M RACING PRODUCTS

MegaShifter

B&M's MegaShifter (PN 81035) and QuickSilver (PN 81025) are both designed to fit the '68-69 Chevy Camaro console. The MegaShifter features full ratchet action performance, a lighted gear position indicator, neutral safety switch, chrome stick and trigger assembly, a satin-finish aluminum B&M T-handle, and a reverse lockout feature that meets NHRA and IHRA requirements. The QuickSilver does the same without the hassle of a trigger. With both shifters, all the mounting hardware and a 5-foot precision B&M shifter cable are included.

Applications: any domestic two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmission

Street price: $246.97

Pro Bandit

Built for high-performance vehicles, the Pro Bandit Shifter (PN 81045) features a billet aluminum Magnum Grip handle, an 8-foot-long super duty race cable, B&M Powerglide pro lever with quick-disconnect and cable extension (a CO2 cannister or an electric solenoid may be used on this shifter for a Powerglide). All Bandit shifters use the same gate plates as found in the Pro Stick shifters.

Applications: any domestic two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmission

Street price: $354.97

Hi-Tek Street Bandit

B&M says its Hi-Tek Street Bandit (PN 80797) is the ultimate shifter for high-tech Pro Street cars and street rods with automatic transmissions. The Hi-Tek Street Bandit features a gated mechanism with a narrow aluminum housing, neutral safety switch, backup light switch, and an interchangeable billet knob. It also comes with all the mounting hardware required.

Applications: any domestic two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmission

Street price: $340.97

Pro Stick Magnum Grip

B&M says it Pro Stick Magnum Grip (PN 81040) is the ultimate shifter for most two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmissions. This gated shifter features a reverse lockout that meets NHRA/IHRA requirements, a neutral safety switch, and a lightweight brushed aluminum cover. We dig the pistol-grip handle too!

Applications: any domestic two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmission

Street price: $260.07

Pro Ratchet

The B&M Pro Ratchet (PN 80842) is easy to operate and features NHRA/IHRA reverse lockout, backup light switch, neutral safety switch, brushed aluminum cover, a white plastic shift knob and 5-foot super duty shift cable. It features a single-hand-operated reverse lockout that meets NHRA and IHRA requirements, it's quick and easy to operate, the stick will always return to the center position, and it's the easiest shifter to double shift with.

Applications: any domestic two-, three-, and four-speed automatic transmission

Street price: $272.97

Source:
B&M Racing Products
707-544-4761
www.BMRacing.com