We were chatting with Gray Fredrick at American Powertrain a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming SEMA show and asked if they had any big announcements or new products that would be on display. He said, “Actually, we are going to have some new shifter handles, knobs, boots and rings [from Finch Performance].” American Powertrain recently teamed up with Finch Performance and had started carrying all of Finch’s items for their 5- and 6-speed transmissions. Gray was excited about showing them off at this year’s SEMA show. Of course, we couldn’t help to joke that a Finch Performance setup would look killer in our newest project car “Orange Crush.” Gray asked, “What color do you need?” and next thing we knew, UPS was knocking at our door!
We unboxed the shifter handle, knob, boot and ring and were instantly impressed. The Finch Performance kits put incredible detail in the components and are incredibly lightweight. Whether you’re into auto crossing, road racing or just want a custom pro-touring look for your streetcar, the Finch Performance shifters and boots hit the spot. And what’s best of all? They are made right here in the USA! American Powertrain offers the shift handles in multiple lengths and two different styles. The shift handles come in 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-inch lengths, all of which are available in a straight or angled design, depending on what your needs may be.
Above: The complete Finch Performance shifter kit from American Powertrain is pretty straight forward in its design. We went with an 8-inch straight-angled, black-anodized shifter handle and 5-inch round boot.
Above: As you can see, the handle can be offset 1-inch forward or backward or straight up. Note that when we were trying the different slugs the holes still lined up perfectly. It’s great having that extra little bit of adjustment for perfect shifter position.
They also come in three different color options; black, clear or black diamond anodized. Just as we wondered, many of you are probably curious what the black diamond anodized is. Black diamond consists of anodizing the whole part black and then diamond cutting highlights back to exposed aluminum. It’s pretty sharp-looking. The shifter rings and boots come in a couple sizes also. They offer a large 6″x9” and a 5-inch round ring. The 6”x9” is a great option for anyone who is wanting easy access to their shifter and the 5-inch round is a nice option for a more subtle presentation. Both styles of rings and boots come in the same colors as the handles and have a bottom plate that can be welded or screwed down.
Last but not least, the gun-drilled billet aluminum diamond cut black-anodized 5- and 6-speed knobs are lightweight and hard anodized, so they’ll take some abuse. Not to mention, they look and feel incredible when shifting. American Powertrain sent us an 8-inch straight-angled, black-anodized shifter handle and 5-inch round boot for our autocrossing ’72 Dodge Dart Swinger, “Orange Crush.” The Dart was already equipped with one of American Powertrain’s Tremec Magnum 6-speeds a few years earlier and has made the world of difference with how the Dart drives.
Above: As you guessed, the shifter knob is simple to install also. It comes with a 3/8-inch stud and jam nut to screw into the handle. You can insert a 1/8-inch hex into the stud to help tighten it. There’s a good amount of thread on the stud before it bottoms out into the handle. Next, thread on the jam nut and then the knob. After twisting the knob all the way on, the shift pattern was crooked. Our attention to detail kicked in and we had to make it straight. We backed our knob off until the shift pattern was even with the shift handle and then tightened the jam nut to the knob.
Above right: In the Orange Crush we ended up using the offset slug to position the handle 1-inch back.
The shifter handle was pretty straightforward due to the simple 2-bolt design. There were no issues with the alignment of the bolts like we have encountered in the past with other shifters. The holes matched up perfectly and had minimal play. The shifter handle also stood out among others due to its ability to be adjusted forward or backward 1-inch. Finch Performance built a recess into the bottom mounting hole for two different slugs, a centered hole and an offset slug. The offset slug can be flipped to move the handle forward or backwards.
For the guys who access their shifter mechanism often, there is the option of the 6”x9” boot and ring. This may seem a little large but with the newer 5- and 6-speed transmissions, the shifter mechanisms are large and bolted on from the top. Some mechanisms like American Powertrain’s White Lighting shifters have an adjustable spring bias for reentering the shifter and with a smaller boot would not be as easily accessible. The majority of other boot and ring setups we have seen do not offer this amount of accessibility and style.
Above: The last piece remaining was installing the shifter boot and ring. Unlike most shifter boot rings, the Finch Performance piece has a base plate to install first. You have the option of welding or screwing the base plate to the floor. Once the base plate is installed you never have to worry about removing it ever again! You can easily access the shifter mechanism and not worry about stripping screw holes that you have used time and time again in the floor pan. Or, if you’re like us with black carpet, you can’t find the holes to install the boot in the same spot.
Above: Here’s a little “before and after” between our outgoing shifter and our new Finch Performance shifter from American Powertrain. Not only is it lighter and more responsive, but definitely adds a cleaner look to our project car.
After road testing the new shifter knob, handle and boot, we are ordering one for every vehicle we own. Not only is the look a great addition to our autocrossing Dart, but when shifting with the lightweight shifter handle and knob, the shifts felt better and maybe even a little quicker thanks to the improved angle and weight savings. Not to mention that we gained a .0001 of a second on the track. At the end of the day, the Finch Performance line available through American Powertrain is a excellent option for your vehicle no matter what you are driving. If you happen to be at SEMA this year, stop by and check out the lineup in person at the American Powertrain booth. If not, then head over to their website and get your hands on one today.