Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 8, 2014

Personalization of one's classic Mustang or Ford is one way to make your ride entirely yours. From wheels and exterior trim to underhood wiring and the interior, there are literally dozens of ways to make a project or recent acquisition your own. Sometimes a previous bit of personalization, or perhaps the previous owner's idea of a certain upgrade or modification, doesn't jive with your current plans. That's cool too, and one reason why you can often find lightly used performance and styling parts all over eBay and Craigslist!

Case in point on this '65 Mustang is the automatic shifter someone added to control the AOD four-speed automatic overdrive in the tunnel. While it's a quality piece, it flat just doesn't go with the '65's interior theme. If the coupe was more drag car than cruiser, perhaps with some racing seats and a rollbar, it would work. But with a stock interior (save for the aftermarket gauges in the dash) the plastic shifter housing and bulky ratcheting race-style shifter just muddies the look the current owner is attempting to pull off and it has got to go.

In place of the ratcheting race-style shifter needs to go something classy, yet functional. We're big fans of Lokar's line of shifters, knobs, and transmission control accessories. We've lost track of how many Lokar TV cable kits and carb brackets we've installed with AOD conversions, not to mention their great cable throttle kits, which come in handy for engine swaps. Thankfully, the AOD is a very popular transmission in the street rod market (and uses a similar shift pattern and linkage setup as the venerable Mustang C4 three-speed automatic), and Lokar has everything you could think of to shift one of these overdrive transmissions in just about any Ford. Lokar even tooled up a custom universal/adjustable transmission manual lever, which solves all the problems associated with column-shift versus floor-shift AOD transmissions. Now it doesn't matter what your AOD came out of, Lokar can shift it!

1 Our ratcheting race shifter got the job done, but just didn’t fit the interior’s “vibe” and has to go. Once the plastic cover is removed just four bolts hold it to the floorpan. We’ll be replacing the carpet too, as the new Lokar shifter has a much smaller footprint.

2 The Lokar shifter comes in several styles and heights. We opted for Lokar’s floor-mount nostalgia-style shifter with an 8-inch long shifter handle.

3 To finish off the floor-mount installation, we’ll be using Lokar’s shift boot with billet rectangular boot ring with LED gear indicator. To create some contrast to the chrome shifter handle, we opted for the Midnight Series boot ring.

4 To control the LED gear indicator and to provide a safe and easy connection for backup lights and neutral safety interlock, we’ll be pairing Lokar’s billet LED gear indicator with this cable-operated shift indicator kit, which mounts on the side of the transmission.

5 Lokar’s AOD manual lever conversion kit requires cracking open your transmission for installation, which can be a bit daunting. However, the benefit of having the adjustable lever installed far outweighs the extra work and is a key part to a smooth and successful installation.

6 After loosely assembling the shifter’s mounting tabs, the shifter location is determined on the transmission tunnel. A silver Sharpie is used to mark the four bolt-hole locations to be drilled.

7 Once the holes are drilled, bolt the mounting ears down loosely to determine where to cut the floorpan for the shift lever bracket. You’ll need a slot long enough and wide enough for the lever to move freely through all gear positions.

8 Once the opening is marked, a cut-off wheel makes quick work of the new opening that is needed for the shift lever to pass through the floor sheetmetal. Bolt on the appropriate shift lever for your application and test fit the shifter until the hole is of the proper width and length.

9 Once the slot is cut, it’s time to return the shifter to the tunnel and secure the shifter (we used longer bolts than those supplied due to the floorpan’s stock shifter reinforcement lip). Verify the shifter is positioned straight and level and then tighten the horizontal Allen head bolts securing the shifter body to the mounting ears.

10 In order to install the AOD manual lever, the transmission pan must be removed and the fluid drained. After draining all excess fluid remove the AOD’s transmission filter and wipe down the area. A new filter and pan gasket will be required for re-installation of the pan.

11 Begin shaft removal by removing the retaining nut for the TV lever on the side of the case and disconnecting the TV lever and cable.