Alternative gear shift levers through the years

1956 Packard pushbutton transmission control

1956 Packard pushbutton control

Packard introduced their “Touch Button Ultramatic” transmission control pad on 1956 models. It was standard on the 1956 Caribbean and a $52 option on the Clipper and lesser-priced models. The mechanism was built by Auto-Lite, a major Packard supplier.
Unlike Chrysler Corporation pushbutton controls, Packard’s was electrically actuated and used an electric shift motor (essentially a modified starter motor) to physically move the gears. At times, it would prove to weak to move the car out of Park on a steep hill and cause a circuit breaker to blow. The system was problematic, but because 1956 was Packard’s last year before bankruptcy, the system was never perfected.

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