Ford Toploader and Shifter Article by Kevinstang

Originally published by Kevinstang in 2003


  1966 Mustang Toploader HEH-BW



  Tailstock correct for early Mustang with shifter at very rear, shown upside down so part number can be read

  Correct Mustang case

  Correct early T handle 4 speed toploader shifter for Mustang 1964.5 to 1967 models (67 ball is slightly different)


1967 style shifter ball

  Correct original Mustang rods and shifter body -note length of all three rods

The complete assembly

  Again an original handle and ball


Above an early Fairlane/Falcon T10 4 speed shifter body-view from front, note the small 5/8 inch main body pin used with these early shifters, because of this legs do not interchange with later boxes

Below – Backside view of same box, difference between it and later shift box is clearly seen here in shape

Above view shows the mounting location of reverse light switch in body .

Here’s a 63/64 Fairlane T10 4 speed shift box with original rods and reverse light switch in place

These are two of the later Toploader 4 speed style shift boxes (above)

A view of the same two boxes from rear shows the different shape and length of legs between Galaxie / Mustang (below)


This is the typical Mustang small block / Dagenham / T10 shift box for 4 speed trannies (*Note extra hole in base mounting-this is a later 67 and up box-it will fit either the C4ZR or C7OR tailshafts)

Above is the Galaxie box, I believe this to be a 68 model, it has the larger lower shift lever bolt spacing (2 inches center to center)

These are the “lower shift levers”-what the handle bolts to and pivots on inside box, not the difference in size, most all boxes will be the smaller – 1 13/16″ center to center bolt spacing, the larger lever uses a 2 inch center to center.

Something to watch out for on the lower levers (especially when purchasing)is cracks or complete breaks around mounting pin. Notice the crack on the one above and the poor attempt to reweld it. Good news if you found your box has one of these is that the 3 speed unit uses same piece and they are much more common and cheaper to find and borrow part from.

The 67 and 68 Big Block Mustangs and Cougars utilized a special shifter box (actually the same box with the same 1st+2nd and 3rd+4th arms-just a different reverse arm)to clear the mounting bolt on the special shifter plate they needed because they used the Fairlane/Torino C7OR casting tailstock on their toploaders.The plate located the shifter to the correct Mustang/Cougar postion in tranny tunnel. The reverse arm on this box is special, it is bent slightly to the rear and is most noticable when all arms are aligned in neutral postion-as shown in photo above.Because of this angle backwards, the Big Block cars used a special reverse rod which was about 1/2 inch longer than the small block cars and bent slightly different for clearance. The other two shifter rods were the same between big block and small block.The photo below shows shape of arm from backside. Arrow #1 shows location of neutral pin alingment hole, arrow #2 shows position of rod attachment hole when aligned.

The typical 3 speed shifter box is nearly identical to the the four speed, except for early Mustang, where the reverse switch mounting hole is not centered but mounted towards bottom center of rear base. Starting in 67 this was standardized to the same position as the four speed box-center/center of back.

Ford shifters went with a radical change in 1969, both 3 and 4 speed, the 4 speed box would be short lived- with Ford going to Hurst 4 speed shifters in 1970.Shown above are both 3 and 4 speed 69 boxes.Below the 69 4 speed box by itself, all shift boxes were the same as far as I have seen for 69- no difference in big or small block.

Notice what looks like a crudely welded rod on box for support, this is a factory piece, often it is mistaken for an add on.

The boxes look similar, and so do the handles they use, but the 3 speed boxes from what I have seen use the bolt spacing of 1 13/16 inches, while the 4 speeds use the 2 inch handle bolt spacing.See above photo.

Shown above are the early 65 (includes 64.5)and late 65 to 68 Mustang 3 speed shifter handles. Notice the sharper bend in early handle,the early 4 speed handle was also so bent this way.

Above is the typical 65-67 Mustang 4 speed handle (shown with 65-66 style shifter ball-note chrome base on lower half). The Falcon handle is similar but is about one inch longer overall.

Below are examples of early Fairlane / Galaxie , the bent one is for a car with bucket seats and console


In 1968 Ford changed the style of all its 4 speed shifter handles, dropping the “T” type reverse lockout in favor of a more durable fixture – as shown above on a Mustang handle.

Ford completely changed the shift handles in 1969 for both 3 and 4 speeds, dropping the reverse lockout feature on 4 speed handle altogether. While the 3 and 4 speed handles look the same, the four speed handles utilized the 2 inch center to center bolt spacing, while the 3 speed handles utilized the 1 13/16 inch spacing still. Notice especially in pictures below of a 69 Mustang 3 speed handle how flat the base has become and that the sides of handle base no longer contain the shifter bushings etc.

To go along with the new handle in 69 a new shifter boot as well.Note its more rectangular shape (Mustang)

Shown above a typical Mustang handle with shifter boot and boot retainer (which mearly slips over bellows in boot and does not fastten itself to floor-some early boot retainers were pot metal and did fasten to floor).

Here’s a 65-67 toploader 4 speed shifter box and rods as installed on transmission.(above)

Early Galaxies and Fairlanes used a shifter with reverse pattern of up and over, while all early Mustangs (regardless of T10,Dagenham or Toploader),Cougars etc. used a shift pattern of reverse and down

In 1967 Ford dropped the chrome base on 4 speed shifter ball and went with a slightly larger and more bulbous ball.For 67 this was the only ball- starting in 68 cars with deluxe interior got a brighter ball with simulated woodrain body and a top with white background with a shift pattern in bright blue.


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