We discovered these unique shifters via Dalton Summitt of Pole Barn Garage when talking about his 1970 Pontiac GTO, aka The Holey Goat, which is ably equipped with a Pontiac Rallye Shifter.
The shifters looked just like the standard floor shifters in models such as Firebird, Chevelle, GTO, LeMans, Grand Am, and Grand Prix. But these unassuming shifters held a secret — the ability to be used as a ratchet shifter on the drag strip or on the street.
Thanks to an essentially hidden set of side detents, the shifter could be pushed laterally to the right and bumped up one gear at a time in an offset pattern to prevent skipping a gear or accidentally hitting neutral at full throttle. The videos below show how the shifters work.
After doing some poking around, we’ve learned that these shifters had their own option code, and it also seems that there are quite a few folks that either didn’t know these shifters existed or were confused about what models and years these shifters were available.
Pontiac called this a Rallye shifter and it showed up on their models starting in the 1969 model year. Going forward they were available in A-body models from 1973-1977 and then Pontiac picked them back up around that time and made them available through the early 1980s, essentially until the advent of the third-generation F-body Camaro and Firebird.BangShift.com
This video from YouTuber Oldsmob455 shows how a factory ratcheting shifter can be used for racing…
Factory 1972 Pontiac Ratcheting Shifter
Pontiac Ratchet Shifter Work Slap Shifter
This ’73 Pontiac Trans Am is in the garage for the winter, and Oldsmob455 takes a closer look at the shifter…