Have you ever driven a car with a ‘three on the tree’ gearshift?

Nope. My first car was 4-on-the-floor, not 3-on-the-tree.

I’ve driven a manual 1978 Nova, but it was… modified. With an 850 horsepower engine and 5-speed floor shifter. The shifter was janky, and the first few times I took off, I was unknowingly in third gear. The car seemed to accelerate normally. 850 horsepower kinda does that, I guess. My dad was in the passenger seat and laughed, pointing out what I’d done after a few stops.

Not three on the tree. But three on the floor, yes I’ve driven those. The old military jeeps had three on the floor. And then the Hummvees came and replaced all the old jeeps.

The Hummvees were nice with lots of suspension travel for soaking up bumps. But at times I missed the old jeeps because they were smaller, lighter, and more nimbler. You could get between trees better.

I served before IEDs became commonplace.

Parents had a Holden Kingswood 3 speed column shift when I took my licence in it. Also the farm’s utilities at that time were 3 speed Land Cruisers. The next upgrade were 4 on floors.

Never drove the Kingswood after I got my licence (and frankly only a couple of times before).

All my vehicles since graduation have been automatics.

My first car was a ‘67 Chevy Chevelle, a.k.a. “The Limo,” with three on the tree. It was bought for $250 in the mid-‘80s. After a couple minor accidents, it had the look of a car you don’t want to mess with as it gave off a definite vibe of “owner does not care about his vehicle.” I never really liked that car - in its latter days, it leaked oil like crazy - though its size did prove useful on several occasions. I drove it for 3-4 years in all before it was sold for $65. I don’t miss it.

1967 Chevy C10 pickup. I haven’t driven three on the tree for 40 years, but I still remember: Pull back and down for first, straight up for second, straight down for third. For reverse it was push the stalk forward and up.

Yup. Started driving in the early 1970’s, and most people I hung out with were driving older used cars for quite some time after that. – still mostly true, actually, but now “older” is generally a lot newer than the 70’s.

I never owned one, though. My first car was a four-on-the-floor and I remember being surprised how much more precise the four speed was than the three.

I learned to drive in my dad’s 1962 Ford Custom with a three on the tree. Then in 1971 I paid 600 bucks for my first car, a 1965 Ford Falcon with a 289 V-8 with a three on the tree. I really really really wish I still had that car.

Ranchero three on the tree. My dad got it used in 1972, so it was from the 60’s. Fine to drive. Really no difference than a stick.

Both cars I learned to drive on had it.
A Fury and a Valiant.

I’ve driven a 3-on-the-tree and a dashboard-mounted gear stick. I liked both of them. They’re easy enough to use once you get used to the novelty of them. My guess is that when they came out, they were common enough, but today’s default seems to be automatic transmissions. Of course, I’ve driven the four-on-a floor and automatic transmissions, too.

The thread title reminds me of an amusing (at least to me) incident that happened at my last overseas station. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing it.

My Dad’s Chevy pickup had one, and the truck he had after that may have. I definitely drove both. My brother had a Plymouth Satellite with one, but I wasn’t old enough to drive it.

I started driving in 1955 and never owned an automatic until 1992. Is this topic limited to a tight definition of a 3-speed changer mounted in the steering column? I’ven RHD cars with is, operated with the left hand, which is quite an adventure in the corrrect lane of a round-about. I think most Europeans stayed with a floor-change, but I can’t remember which. My American cars up to the 55 Plymouth were column-change.

Had a couple of French cars with the stick shift in front of the engine, operated by a long linkage bar through a hole in the dashboard.

My dad had some funky Dodges in the 50s with semi-automatics – no clutch, but manual from Low to Drive, and then you had to wait between 2 and 3 for the auto-shift.

Yeah ~60ish Chevy van. Before I had my drivers license. We owned a mobile home park, and I drove all manner of vehicles around it as I was working there as a kid. They where all private roads, but I’m sure a lawyer would have a heart attack if that was done today.

We also lived out in the country, and I would drive with my folks. Had to sit on a pillow in my moms old Chrysler station wagon. All that driving was good for me, it made getting my drivers license a snap.

I learned to drive in a truck with manual transmission. The version on the steering wheel is my only experience. I haven’t tried the shifter on the floor.

I’d struggle driving a manual today. It would take a few tries to get used to shifting again.

With the larger cars of yesteryear, which usually had bench seats, “Three On The Tree” meant that three people could sit up front.

There’s a prewar (New Yorker?) cartoon where the driver says “The gearshift seems to be broken.” The passenger says “Jack, that’s my knee.”

We were a 4-driver, 1-car family when I was a teen, and my dad finally bought a Chevy with three on the tree so my brother and I would have a chance to drive on occasion. We didn’t have it for long, but long enough that I can say I’ve driven one! He replaced it with a Maverick that my sister eventually totalled…

The car I learned to drive on! A 1968 Mazda 1500. It was 15+ years old when I first got behind the wheel.

I’ve forgotten how it worked but I do remember it was a pain. When I switched to a 1979 Toyota Corolla (the “new car” in our family!) it was so much easier with the four speed stick shift on the floor.

This being Pakistan, you did the shifting with left hand. I’m painfully right handed. Wiggling the long skinny shifter on the steering column was annoying as hell.

Drove one quite a in the mid-80s when I was stationed in Woomera, South Australia. It was one of our squadron vehicles. Never drove one until then. I usually drove my 5-speed Honda CRX that I shipped over when I transferred over there. I had a two-minute course on driving a column shift.

Then when I got back and stationed in South Carolina, they had a column-shifter vehicle also.

Yes. An early 60s Ford Falcon. It wasn’t mine, but it was owned by my grandmother and I drove it fairly often. By the time I was old enough to drive (late 70s) she didn’t drive anymore, but still owned the car, and the family often designated me to shuttle her around to family gatherings and other events.

It was kind of a pain, because I’d have to take public transportation to her house, where the car lived, drive her to whatever the destination of the day was, then drive her back, leave the car there, and take public transportation home.

But driving that car, with that gearshift, seemed normal and unremarkable to me. It might have been first car I drove, not sure. But manuals were the norm for me – around that time, I bought a '68 VW Beetle, drove that for a few years. I currently drive a VW Passat with a manual transmission.

2 of my old cars are 3 on the tree so yes, I have. Several times a year.

My wife is not good with manual transmissions whether it is 3 on the tree or 4/5 on the floor despite numerous training sessions so I bought an old car just for her that has an automatic.

I did have the experience of driving a 4 on the tree (it was a SAAB?) and that was interesting.