The Alfa Romeo Spider - perhaps best known as the car Dustin Hoffman drives in The Graduate - has an odd shifter. I’d seen it in pictures before and thought it strange how the shifter is mounted up so high and how it sticks out almost horizontally from under the dashboard. Yesterday I actually saw one up close in person, and it looked even weirder to see in real life.
I don’t know what the shift lever looks like behind the boot - whether it curves downward in an “r” shape like a Hurst shifter in a classic muscle car, or whether it’s just a straight shaft. But I can’t understand why the good people at Alfa decided to put the shifter there. I’ve googled all kinds of combinations of various words but haven’t been able to uncover any discussion of their reasoning for doing so, when no other car is designed this way.
It is more that the center console is farther back.
The shape of the shifter lever is almost exactly like a 1967 Ford Mustang. The lever also comes out vertically from the tail of the transmission in a fairly normal way.
If you look at an image of a car without the center console it will make more sense.
Right, that’s what I meant when I suggested that it might look like similarly bent shifters on old muscle cars - past the point behind the leather boot, at any rate. OK, so it’s that the center console is further back. WHY? Why did Alfa choose to configure it this way?
I’ve seen shift sticks like on several different vehicles, but always in places outside the USA. The bus service mini vans in Grand Cayman had them like that. I had a rented Opel in Europe that had one.
I don’t Know who would prefer them like that. I don’t.
I’m sure the OP is familiar with the saying that when you buy an Italian car, you’re paying for the engine - the rest of the car comes free. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if the engineering of the car started with the engine, when they put it in the chassis they found it easier to mount the transmission unusually high, and the rest is a product of that - screw the ergonomics, let’s put the roof down and drive it like you stole it!
Sorry for the more IMHO than GQ answer - it is based on the fact that I do know that particular Alfa model, and a lot of Italian cars until at least the 90s, had weird cabin designs, most commonly shown by the pedals being offset considerably from the steering column, in one, two, or all three directions. Comfort was simply down the list of priorities.