The sound of a V-8 at the top end of the R's is like music to our grease monkey ears. If there's a set of fat pipes and performance mufflers in the mix, it's even better. The best way we know to hear that sweet sound of horsepower is to mash the gas and manually shift the transmission. If you have a manual tranny or a floor-shift automatic muscle car, this is pretty convenient to do. For the folks that have the gear select hanging off the column it gets a bit more difficult to do. While that location is convenient for normal driving, when it comes time for race mode it basically sucks.
One thing all of the factory automatic cars have in common is the ability to easily miss or skip a shift. The factory shifters usually do not have positive gates for each gear, so it's pretty easy to go from Low and just slip right past Second into Third. To cure the miss shift issues and make the motor sing by taking control of the trans, we will be installing TCI's affordable Fast-Gate shifter assembly.
The car we are installing it in has a different problem altogether. Our subject Camaro was an original four-speed car that was converted to a TH400 at some point in its life. Whoever did the conversion used an aftermarket shifter that bolts to the tailshaft of the transmission and came though the original four-speed hole in the tunnel—with a little sheetmetal hacking, that is. The issue with this is the stick hit the dash when the car was in Park so the arm was heated and bent making it functional, but it looked horrible. While it may have worked OK when it was installed some time in the early '80s, now it was just plain worn out and sloppy.
We didn't want to empty our bank account for the shifter, so we decided to pick up TCI's Fast-Gate shifter assembly that retails for just $140.63. It is universal in design, so it fits the GM TH200, TH250, TH350, TH400, 200-4R, 700-R4, 4L60E, 4L70E, and 4L80E transmissions. It also includes a durable injection-molded cover, a 5-foot shift cable, 1.900-inch-diameter shifter ball (T-handles are also available), neutral safety and reverse light switches, and all required hardware for installation. It's compliant with NHRA and IHRA safety regulations thanks to the reverse lockout mechanism. With the help of a buddy, we had the old shifter out and the TCI unit installed in an afternoon, so it shouldn't be an issue to get it in your car over the weekend.