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Old 11-15-2010, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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How easy was it to drive these column shift manual transmission cars? Not too many seem to have survived, as when I go to classic car shows, most large cars have automatics, and sporty mid-sizes or compacts have floor shifts.

I would love to try the "on the tree" shifts.
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Old 11-15-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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They were quite nice to drive in my opinion. Remember for years, with the exception of the occasional Hydramatics and then Dynaflows, Powerglides, Ford O Matics, etc, this is what you had. I drove my dad's 1961 Falcon Ranchero with a three speed on the column. It was easy and I know a more expensive car with a 3 speed manual shift was probably better than the cheap Falcon. Check out You Tube. There is a driving video for a 62 Chevrolet Biscayne, a 60 Impala Sport Sedan, and many more. Both the Chevrolets are sixes with manuals. I'll see if I can get the links. Love the sound of these sixes and the manual gears.

Mr. Bill
Hamlet NC

Last edited by Avantiguy; 11-15-2010 at 07:53 PM..
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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My old 65 GMC truck has a 3-on-the-tree. There are a couple of tricks to getting it to work right.

First, as stated in the factory manual, the axial clearance of the mechanism that is part of the steering column needs to be set correctly. IIRC it needs to be right on at .005 inch. The manual makes a point that you have to get this pretty much dead on or it won't work right.

Second is my own "bootleg" trick, I adjust the 1-R shift rod a bit "lower" than the 2-3 shift rod, so that the "H" pattern (as viewed by a passenger for example) is skewed a bit to make the 1-2 shift a little easier and more fluid at the expense of the 3-R shift (how often do you have to shift from high into reverse?)

My "bootleg" trick can be overdone of course.

While a talented driver can shift a column shifted automatic pretty quickly, IMHO it's just not as solid and fast as a floor shifter.

I agree with Mr. Bill, certainly for a pickup I prefer a 6 and column shifted 3-speed - or even better what I have, the 3-speed with Borg-Warner overdrive.

It's interesting to me that with the exception of Pontiac's OHC 6, Detroit just never "did" performance 6-bangers.

That said in small cars like early Mustangs, Valients, or Chevy-II, a 6 with a good manual trans makes a very drivable combo.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:23 PM
 
74 posts, read 567,869 times
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Let me take a moment to clarify what I said about 3 speed column shifts working quite nicely. With this statement, I am referring to when the vehicle was new, or with little use.

Some manufacturer's column shifts could get a little sloppy after they had seen heavy or hard use. I can speak specifically for Ford cars and their shifters. On my dad's 61 Falcon Ranchero, the collar of the column where the shift lever fit into would wear as it was cheap "pot metal" (my dad's term) as the pin that was inserted into the collar and through the lever would cause the surrounding metal to wear. I can remember seeing owners clamp this pin in so it wouldn't fall out. Other manufacturers may have had the same problem as Ford.

I prefer automatics and if buying a car, I would have gotten a V8 with my automatic. Looking back though, when I see a full size car with a six, I smile. The Chevrolet Biscaynes, Ford Customs, Plymouth Fury 1, etc., I can understand why a lot of these were sixes. It is the occasional Impala, Impala SS, Galaxie, Fury 3, etc., that makes me wonder.

I guess that 67 Impala Super Sport Convertible with the six cylinder engine and powerglide might have been an interesting buy after all.

I read somewhere that Pontiac originally considered a larger version of the OHC Sprint engine to be made an option for either the 67 or 68 full size Pontiacs. Pontiac management, however, shot this one down rather quickly.

Best regards

Mr. Bill
Hamlet, NC
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:43 PM
 
Location: Northeast Tennessee
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Oh yeah, that was one thing about Fords back in the 70s... the tilt wheel mechanism was incorporated into the turn signal.... this I learned from our 1970s Lincolns we owned in the 1980s.

Yeah, the design of the column shift manual cars where the sleeve would move I think was one reason they didnt have tilt. Also like you said, the extra pressure on the column on non-power assist cars would probably damage it quickly. My dads 1985 Nissan truck has NO power steering... at a stop, its a chore to turn the wheel and you can easily see alot of pressure is applied to the column... as I am sure it is on all non-PS equipped cars. Dad had a 73 Ford truck with 3-speed on the tree and we had a 62 Mercury Comet in the mid 80s that was 3 on the tree... I drove that car a couple of times on our farm as a child... around 1985, I was 9 years old, but could drive and shift that car. Fond memories.

You know, now that you mentioned no cruise on Mrs Gs car, I remember that 71 Caprice with the manual shift didnt have cruise either... no cruise, no tilt, but looked to have everything else. So strange looking... and rare indeed!

I would love to have seen that 73 Bel-Air you mentioned... that was the base Chevy full-size by 73, but by then, 3-speed manual was kinda rare on the big cars. True too... seemed like more of the older Chevys had 3-speed manual than the Fords... especially on like the Biscayne and Bel-Air. I did once almost purchase a local 73 Bel-Air back in the 90s... strange thing was it was opposite as the one you mentioned... this one was a high optioned car... it even had power windows and power locks and a vinyl top! Wonder why they didnt spring a little more $ and go for the Impala or Caprice, then load one of those up. Perhaps they only had the $ to go with a loaded up Bel-Air or a low-optioned Caprice. Back then, it wasnt really trim lines that determined options... trim lines was like extra chrome or nicer seating materials... options were all over the place back then... some low level trim models were loaded, while some high trim lines were low optioned. Give me a loaded high end model though.


To answer your last question, I have seen a 1972 Buick Electra 225 4dr WITHOUT air conditioning... it was a northern model though. Down here in the south, even most of the older cars, even in the 60s were ordered with A/C... I know up north, back then many people didnt get it... even on some fancier cars. Dont know why though, because even in the north gets hot in the summer... guess its where its shorter lived than in the south.

That reminds me... someone once told me they had seen a 1967 Buick Electra with a 3-speed manual... special order no doubt, because I think automatic was standard on Electra in '67.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Avantiguy View Post
Mrs. G was a very kind lady and quite a "happening" one too. I remember she used to trade at the drug store where my mother worked and she liked to come in late during the evening and stay until it was just about time for the store to close. This was back when the local, small town drugstores did a good business. I used to like to see Mrs. G drive away in this Ford. I can still see this now, in on the clutch, shift to reverse, slight revs of the engine to back the car up, in to low gear, hearing the engine rev and seeing that big luxurious Ford move in the different way that a car with a manual transmission moves out. She was a smooth gear changer too. You know, all Ford had to do was use a 3 speed column they would happily use in a Custom, or perhaps a Galaxie and send the car down the line. They sure didn't want too though.

Regarding the tilt wheel option on cars in years past, I was told that power steering was a required option because the "flexibility" of the tilt mechanism would not stand up to the extra pressure exerted on the column to turn the wheels of a non power steering assisted car. This makes sense to me. For some manufacturers, I don' think it mattered what kind of transmission a car had in order to get a tilt wheel, you just had to have power steering. I can back this up by saying that I have seen quite a few full size 4 speed GM cars with a tilt wheel. In fact, there is a commercial on You Tube for the tilt wheel option on 1965 Chevrolets. It is an original commercial from Bewitched showing Gladys and Abner Cravitz on the sidewalk watching someone getting into a new Impala and tilting the steering wheel. Abner did the voice over and said the tilt wheel was available on Chevrolets and Chevelles with power steering and powerglide OR 4 speed transmission.

Regarding Mrs. G's LTD Brougham, it did not have cruise control, that I am sure of. I do not know if it had a tilt wheel, but I am betting that it did not. I can just figure there was something different about a manual column that would make an adjustable column impossible, or at least impractical to tool up for. Very few Fords came with a tilt wheel during these years. I can probably count the ones I've seen on both of my hands. But, you also have to remember on Ford cars at this time and for several years afterwards, you had to push the turn signal lever towards the front of the car to release the mechanism to adjust the wheel. There was not a separate tilt wheel adjustment lever to look for as a dead giveaway. A lot of people who had these cars so equipped may not have ever known they had a tilt wheel because of the way the column operated. I could look at the mechanism where the lever went in to the column and tell if was a fixed or adjustable column. In fact, a co-worker purchased a 77 Thunderbird used and didn't know she had a tilt wheel until I showed her.

Oh, on ebay a few weeks ago was a 14,000 mile original 1973 Chevrolet Bel Air with the straight six and three speed manual transmission. Its been on there twice lately, didn't sell because of the starting bid. Watch for it, will probably be back on there again. Solid black, blackwalls, hubcaps, I think it had a radio. Interesting car, and this was the last time, until 1977, that Chevrolet offered a full size car in the states with a six cylinder engine. If I'm not mistaken, the six cylinder was available as an option only on Bel Airs and there was only one transmission choice, the 3 speed manual.

I'm going to ask about something that interests me and I haven't seen this before here. "What is the most unusual car you have seen with factory air conditioning or without factory air conditioning?"

Best regards

Mr. Bill
Hamlet, NC
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:55 PM
 
74 posts, read 567,869 times
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The 1973 Chevrolet Bel Air 6/3 speed manual is back on ebay. I didn't include a link, but search Chevrolet for 1973 and you'll find it. In my opinion, what they wanted for it in the past was a little steep, but I hope whoever winds up with it doesn't mess it up by yanking the little 6 out and replacing it with a V8. I'd really like to have this one.
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Old 01-16-2011, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Northeast Tennessee
7,305 posts, read 25,854,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avantiguy View Post
The 1973 Chevrolet Bel Air 6/3 speed manual is back on ebay. I didn't include a link, but search Chevrolet for 1973 and you'll find it. In my opinion, what they wanted for it in the past was a little steep, but I hope whoever winds up with it doesn't mess it up by yanking the little 6 out and replacing it with a V8. I'd really like to have this one.
I will go check it out. Thanks
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Old 01-16-2011, 12:40 AM
 
Location: Northeast Tennessee
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Cool! Here is the link and pics

This was the LOWEST price full-size GM car offered in 1973.... it said only 1400 had the 3-speed manual!

Chevrolet : Bel Air/150/210 - eBay (item 300513922564 end time Jan-17-11 16:27:32 PST)

http://i.ebayimg.com/22/!CCY(doQEGk~$(KGrHqV,!hME0fcp2rRcBNK6EmMTzw~~_3.JP G (broken link)
http://i.ebayimg.com/07/!CCY(12!EWk~$(KGrHqJ,!iQE0Gj6E(bPBNK6GMjIlw~~_3.JP G (broken link)
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Old 01-16-2011, 01:06 AM
 
Location: Northeast Tennessee
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I wanted to add... there were some really nice Bel-Airs that year...

in the 90s I almost bought a local 1973 Bel-Air. At first glance, I thought it was an Impala... it was an unusually high optioned car... it had a vinyl top, side molding trim, bumper strips and gaurds, etc... interior even more interesting... it had power windows, power locks, cruise and tilt! Very rare car I bet.
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Earth
4,237 posts, read 23,060,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avantiguy View Post
The 1973 Chevrolet Bel Air 6/3 speed manual is back on ebay. I didn't include a link, but search Chevrolet for 1973 and you'll find it. In my opinion, what they wanted for it in the past was a little steep, but I hope whoever winds up with it doesn't mess it up by yanking the little 6 out and replacing it with a V8. I'd really like to have this one.
I agree....either that or one of those clowns that puts a lift kit on it, some 26 inch rims and then paints it some funky psychedelic color with a big Skittles logo on the side then installing a custom interior full of TV's and stereo equipment.

Tenneseestorm, how were you able to post those pics off eBay to here? I've tried doing it before but usually cannot due to eBay's having them protected from copying/pasting....we need to post some engine pics and especially that rear bumper....very rare indeed.
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