This is the age of the paddle shifter / bump shifter. You can get one in the new Camaro, and you’ll see it on racetracks, as the computer-controlled automatic slowly eats away at the notion that without a standard transmission you have no real control. New automatics can match revs, they can shift through six or even eight gears, and if you want to get really exotic, you can electronically “dump the clutch” for a proper Formula 1 start.
Certainly, you are already aware there are large-number shifters, kits, computers, and even whole transmissions dedicated to helping you achieve the perfect gear change every time. One of those companies is MasterShift based in Fallbrook, California. Around since 2002, the company isn’t new to the automotive aftermarket, but we recently came across a really cool use of one of its products that we hadn’t seen before. It’s a goodie that combines the rite of passage of the ratchet-style gate shifter with an electronic paddle for track control.
One of the 99 Genius Ideas built into the car by Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was concealing a MasterShift bump shifter inside the stock shifter console and controlling it with the stock Basket Handle shifter (See “The Coolest Camaro in the World,” Apr. ’11). Because MCR is planning some road course action for the car, MasterShift paddle shifters were added so the driver never has to take his hands off of the wheel.
The MasterShift system includes all the normal auto transmission safety features, such as overdrive protection (overdrive is disabled on braking or downshifting); neutral safety to prevent the car from starting in gear; brake safety (the brake must be on to shift into Reverse or Park); and, speed safety (Reverse or Park can’t be engaged above 1 mph).
The Bumpshift bump shifter is a sequential-style, surface-mountable shifter that activates a shifter module (mounted in the trunk in this case) that connects to your transmission via a custom-length shift cable. Bumping the lever in either direction will cycle your transmission through the standard P-R-N-4-3-2-1 positions.
The 4L60E automatic, built by Auto Trans Design in Germantown, Wisconsin, could, with the flick of an A-B switch hidden under the dash, operate normally in the standard Drive mode or be manually controlled. In A-mode, MasterShift does not alter the characteristics of your trans; it simply shifts the trans into the gear position you choose. In the Fourth gear position, it will operate the same as normal Drive mode. And positions 1, 2, or 3 will limit the trans just as any other stock shifter would. In B-mode, the transmission only engages the gear you choose. Bumping the lever forward or backward will upshift or downshift the trans manually.
So while a stick is still being moved to shift gears, it can now be a very positive, precise, and repeatable operation. And it only requires a small bump instead of a long vertical swing.
Follow along, as we show how MCR fitted this technology to its ’69 Camaro.
This is the stock Camaro shift handle. Note the plate with the various gates cut into it f
The MasterShift Bumpshift is a very compact design and uses contact-less switches for posi
Connecting the Bumpshift to the stock handle required nothing more than a short adjustable
The shifter unit, commonly mounted in the trunk, connects to the Camaro’s 4L60E via a stan
One end of the 99.5-inch Control Cables shifter connects to an electronically controlled l
The cable passes into the transmission tunnel just behind the shifter location.
A small plate was welded to the shift cable mount so it could be attached to the transmiss
Partly because they look super trick and partly because MCR intends for the car to see som
Even though the stock shift handle is being used to change gears, it can no longer serve a
Muscle Car Restorations
11371 20th Ave.
Auto Trans Design
Control Cables Inc
9816 Alburtis Ave.
Santa Fe Springs
PO Box 1537