Thirteen of the Most Interesting Shifters Ever Made

These things make every shift so, so satisfying.

A shifter doesn't need to be interesting or beautiful to accomplish its task. So when an automaker puts in the effort to design a cool gear selector, we have to recognize it. These are some the coolest shifters in the automotive world, according to you.

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Hurst Pistol Grip

Hurst is famous for its shifters, becoming one of the most iconic names in American muscle. Pistol-grip handles, with indents for your fingers, make for a joy to hold, and look seriously cool.

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Volkswagen
Volkswagen Golf GTI Golfball

The GTI has a ton of neat interior features, but perhaps the coolest is its shift knob. The golf ball texture is a nifty detail to see and feel, and it's a throwback to the original GTI. Clever!

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Fiat
Fiat Abarth 695 Biposto

The Fiat Abarth 695 Biposto uses race-spec dog rings in its gearbox for lightning-fast upshifts without having to use the clutch pedal. The sequential-style shifter itself is a work of art, but don't be fooled—it's still formatted with an H-pattern.

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Getty Images
Chevrolet Camaro Horseshoe Ratchet

We love our muscle cars with H-pattern manual gearboxes, but the Horseshoe Ratchet GM fit to automatic-transmission Camaros and other cars is so cool. It suits this sort of car so well.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Pagani
Pagani Huayra

Everything Horacio Pagani does is a work of art, and the shifter for the single-clutch gearbox in the Huayra is no exception. It uses all sorts of springs and linkages to create a perfect feel, should you decide to use it instead of the paddle shifters. It's also gorgeous to look at.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
FlickrDavid Berry
Cord Preselector

See that tiny chromed piece to the right of the steering column? That's the shifter on this 1930s Cord. It's a : The driver chooses the next gear ahead of time, then the car shifts automatically when the clutch is depressed. It was too complex a system to ever become mainstream, beyond a handful of 1930s luxury cars. But today, it's a fascinating look at how we got to the modern automatic transmission.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Citroen
Citroën SM

Everything about the Citroën SM was strange and wonderful, so it's no surprise its five-speed shifter is unlike anything else. The whole center piece moves with the shifter, and it makes the most satisfying metallic clunk when you engage a new gear.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Spyker
Spyker Open-Linkage Manual

The manual shifter on Spyker's crazy Dutch supercars is so simple, yet so elegant. You wouldn't be crazy to buy a Spyker just for the shifter.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Honda
2002-2005 Honda Civic Si

The dash-mounted shifter on the 2002-2005 Honda Civic Si looks strange, but it's actually ingenious. It puts the shifter nice and close to the steering wheel, while maintaining a nice, short throw, and freeing up space between the seats.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
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1983 Oldsmobile Hurst Lightning Rods

Designed for drag racing, the amazing Hurst Lightning Rod shifter lets drivers go through gears on their automatic transmissions one shift knob at a time. The one on the left is a normal PRND shifter, while the one on the far right shifts from first to second, and the one in the middle handles second to third. With a different stick for each gear change, you minimize the risk of grabbing the wrong gear in the heat of a drag race.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
FlickrStephen Hanafin
Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR

Yes, that little steel nub is a shift knob. This little shifter, found on the homologation special Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, is used to select drive and reverse, while the paddles on the steering wheel control up- and downshifts while driving.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Citroën
Citroën 2CV

The Citroën 2CV might have been an affordable people's car, but it featured all sorts of innovative, interesting engineering. Its shifter is particularly cool: The rod moves side to side and in and out of the dash, rather than up and down. This seems totally weird, but 2CV owners love it.

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Chevrolet Camaro 327 rally sport Convertible 1968. By Simon Clay. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Getty ImagesAuto BILD Syndication/ullstein bild
Audi R8 Gated Manual

The first-generation Audi R8 wasn't the first car to use a gated manual transmission, but it did . Yes, it's beautiful to look at, but it also was intensively engineered to feel better than any gated shifter before it.

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