1957 Chevy Bel Air Column Shift Issues – SOLVED

When your automatic 1957 Chevy column-shifter doesn't change gears, and you want to keep the AT,  you only have a few options. 

  • Convert your ride to a third-pedal and install a manual transmission ($$$ Expensive and a difficult DIY project)
  • Replace your steering column with an aftermarket (also, very expensive $$$) 
  • Or, use a shift column stabilizer to counteract the 'play' in the shift collar.

I had "restored" my Bel Air back to an automatic by installing a more modern 700R4 (TCI) overdrive transmission, so imagine my surprise when I couldn't shift a new transmission out of 'PARK'... even after hours of tweaking the shift linkage cable. Turned out that a less than 1/16th of an inch play in the column collar was binding. While you can get a replacement "reproduction" shift collar for a 1955 and 1956 Chevy, they don't make one for 1957.

The Problem

IDENTIFY THE REAL PROBLEM:

Identifying the problem was not so obvious. The reason many of these 1957 Chevy's lose the ability to 'shift' is that the shift collar's inner diameter on the steering column wears, creating excess play. This play in the collar actually binds the shift lever, preventing it from moving properly. There is a simple fix...

The Fix

The solution was a CNC machined part I designed that was (relatively) easy to install, and costs under $50.

The other two options are $$$ thousands of dollars, and  don't even think about a junkyard part, it is still 60+ years old, so chances are very good that you will have the same wear issues with that too.

How to install the 1957 Chevy Column-Shift Collar Stabilizer:

Below is a step-by-step showing the installation of the shift collar stabilizer. It's an in-depth look, but can be done by anyone, with basic hand tools. 

1957 Shift collar stabilizer

The following PDF document is the instruction sheet for the "57 Chevy Shift Collar Stabilizer Kit" that I designed. Contact me if you need one.

1957 Chevy - Automatic Shift Collar Stabilizer Kit Installation2
(2MB PDF - opens in a new page)