Pushbutton Transmissions I Remember JFK: A Baby Boomer’s Pleasant Reminiscing Spot

Packard introduced it with their 1956 Caribbean. It was the electrical one, and it had problems. If you parked on a steep hill, the shifting motor would lock up trying to get the car out of Park. It would trip a breaker, and you would be stuck. To make matters worse, when Packard’s production ceased that year, the manufacturers of the shifting mechanism destroyed the tooling. Replacement parts became impossible to obtain.

The king of the boneheaded electrical shifters was the Edsel. Not only did the shifter have lots of problems, they mounted the buttons in the middle of the steering wheel Guess what would would happen when drivers made an emergency move for the horn.




  1. Art says:

    BigBoyBC said, on April 20th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    “I don’t know much about cars, I was wondering that with computers in cars and modern transmission technology. Is there still a need for manual transmissions?”

    Real men drive stick shifts (MANuals), girlie men drive automatics (said in my best Arnold voice). Show me an automatic that can downshift automatically to power thru a turn. Show me an automatic that doesn’t downshift when you accelerate slightly to get in the left lane on the freeway, revving the engine, thereby giving the guy in the middle lane, that you just swung around, the idea that you want to race. I could go on and on …

    In my car, as in my office, I am in charge, not the computer!

  2. Kris says:

    Forget about 1950s and 60s. I rented a 2006 Taurus that had sun shades that obscured the rearview mirror and when you turned the steering wheel, you couldn’t possibly see the gear display as it was totally obscured by the steering wheel. Came in handy when parking…..

    And the previous generation of Citroen C5, circa 2006, had a handbrake operating FRONT wheels, handy in emergencies…..

  3. Peter says:

    Check out the new Lincoln MKZ…pushbutton is back!!