Understanding the 1965 Gear Shifter - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Understanding the 1965 Gear Shifter

I have an automatic 1965 and wanted to fully understand the meaning of the last 3 sections on the gear shifter.

On the shifter is says P-R-N-LittleDot-BigDot-L.

-Little Dot from what I’ve read, is mostly for starting in areas where there’s snow. So living in LA I’m assuming its safe to say I should never use this. (Funny because I was driving solely in this gear the week I got the car)

-Big Dot is Low- 2nd -3rd shift. Generally I should be only driving in this correct?

-L I’m a little confused on. It’s lower gear? I’ve been using it when I go down hills to give the breaks a rest. Does that sound right?

Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 12:03 AM
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In theory that's correct. But for some reason my big dot doesn't shift into 3rd. So I just use little dot. (Ford actually called them drive 1, drive 2 and low - in order from Neutral down).

I also don't know if saving your brakes is worth sitting in the low gear. I only really use the low gear setting in my other car when I don't want the car to shift up (ie maintain steady speed going up hill, towing something heavy) - but if it isn't adversely affecting your engine, then makes sense.

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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 01:40 AM
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If you're ascending / descending steep hills and want to keep the engine revs up without as much gas or need to slow the car or a large load, sure, but I wouldn't do it a lot. Without knowing the condition of the trans, if and when the last build was and what level of components were used it's safe to assume it is bone stock and has some wear. The condition of your fluid and filter and any material found in the pan will tell you a lot. An additional external trans cooler is not a bad idea in any case but remember that will require a little more fluid for the system to be full on the dipstick. Best place to simply find how to use the C4 auto is an original or reproduction owner manual.

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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 06:32 AM
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You are correct, the small dot eliminates 1st gear to reduce wheelspin in mud, snow, and rain. Yes, with the original tires, you could spin the wheels in the rain even with a six-cylinder engine.

P
R
N

O
L

Low shifts the trans down to whatever is the next gear down. I can tell you this system actually works very well, but has always led to confusion, which is why they simplified it in 67. The P-R-N-D-2-1 shifter will do the same thing, actually, if you manually shift it constantly, but few drivers choose to do so.
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 07:21 AM
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Confusing!?? You're not the only one. The majority of the public was confused too back in the 1960's when the "Green-Dot" Transmission was introduced. Ford could have made a commercial on the sole use of the "Green-Dot" Transmission alone which is what they should have done, but never did. If you look closely at the 2nd (Big Dot), There is a little "Green-Dot" inside a Big White Circle right above the "L" (Low Gear). That's the one that you need to DRIVE on.

The confusion was so much so, that people kept driving on the "White" Dot (2nd and 3rd) because it was right next to Neutral (Like in most cars) and people kept blowing C4 Trannies...including my own father (twice). If they had ever read the Owners manual (which barely noone ever does), They would have clearly seen that they have to correctly drive on the "Green-Dot" which is right above the "L" (Low Gear).

Ford got tired of fixing C4 Trannies and tired of trying to explain themselves, so beginning in the 1967 Model year, The C4 Gearing and Valve Body was actually changed and the Shifter Bezel updated. See pics of '64-'66 (Above) and '67-'68 (Below). Also, The "Cruise-O-Matic" embossed writing was also removed from the shifter bezel front as the Tranny was really a C4 and not a "Cruise-O-Matic" transmission either like Pre '64 Ford Cast Iron Auto Transmissions.

Just "Remember", Always DRIVE on the "Green-Dot" Otherwise, You'll blow your C4 Tranny driving on the "White Dot" (2nd and 3rd) all the time. If you look at the pics below, You can see that they actually "swapped the "D" and "2" (2nd, 3rd Gear) for '67-'68 from the previous '64-'66 C4 Gearing.

See Side by Side Pics Below:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1964-1966 Mustang Shifter Bezel.jpg (141.5 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg 1967-1968 Mustang Shifter Bezel.jpg (103.1 KB, 14 views)
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Last edited by NEFaurora; 06-10-2019 at 07:46 AM.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEFaurora View Post
Confusing!?? You're not the only one. The majority of the public was confused too back in the 1960's when the "Green-Dot" Transmission was introduced. Ford could have made a commercial on the sole use of the "Green-Dot" Transmission alone which is what they should have done, but never did. If you look closely at the 2nd (Big Dot), There is a little "Green-Dot" inside a Big White Circle right above the "L" (Low Gear). That's the one that you need to DRIVE on.

The confusion was so much so, that people kept driving on the "White" Dot (2nd and 3rd) because it was right next to Neutral (Like in most cars) and people kept blowing C4 Trannies...including my own father (twice). If they had ever read the Owners manual (which barely noone ever does), They would have clearly seen that they have to correctly drive on the "Green-Dot" which is right above the "L" (Low Gear).

Ford got tired of fixing C4 Trannies and tired of trying to explain themselves, so beginning in the 1967 Model year, The C4 Gearing and Valve Body was actually changed and the Shifter Bezel updated. See pics of '64-'66 (Above) and '67-'68 (Below). Also, The "Cruise-O-Matic" embossed writing was also removed from the shifter bezel front as the Tranny was really a C4 and not a "Cruise-O-Matic" transmission either like Pre '64 Ford Cast Iron Auto Transmissions.

Just "Remember", Always DRIVE on the "Green-Dot" Otherwise, You'll blow your C4 Tranny driving on the "White Dot" (2nd and 3rd) all the time. If you look at the pics below, You can see that they actually "swapped the "D" and "2" (2nd, 3rd Gear) for '67-'68 from the previous '64-'66 C4 Gearing.

See Side by Side Pics Below:
How do I tell if the PO swapped my transmission from a pre-67 to a post-67 but kept the same shifter bezel?

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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:16 AM
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It's also possible they may have just swapped the valve body for one from a '67, which I did on my '66 years ago. I also put in a B&M shifter which matched the new shift pattern.
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:28 AM
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This is a very good question. How can you tell if you have a "GREEN DOT" tranny?

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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 01:06 PM
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I found this on my hard drive & hope it helps someone.


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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEHABUR View Post
This is a very good question. How can you tell if you have a "GREEN DOT" tranny?
Count the shifts? If you put it where we're all used to "D", and it only shifts once, try out "2" location and see if it shifts twice or just keeps you in 2nd gear.



I drove my 65 "wrong" for the first couple weeks I drove it, it shifted so smooth I didn't notice it was only shifting once
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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 03:59 PM
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An Owners Manual helps answer many of the operating questions. Good to have a copy in the glove box. Brian
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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 06:38 PM
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I had a '65 I6 Green dot that I must assume had been rebuilt and either modded or messed up depending on your view because no one could explain to me at the time why it did what it did.

Small dot it would start in 1 shift to 2 then 3 at lowish but normal speeds, rather lazily with a bit of flair to the shift. If I floored it from a stop it was the same.
Green Dot I started calling sport mode Start in low and if I floored it would stay in low a long while then shift into 2nd very crisply, same if I held it to the floor and then eased up it would then shift in to 2nd rather crisply. Same with 2-3rd shift it was crisp. Normal driving it would shift at what I'd call a normal RPM but still crisply.

L- I think was normal. No matter dogging it or not when I moved it to the green dot it would go into 2nd very crisply like while in the green dot.
If i wanted to down shift from either dot into L it would go into 2nd and stay there until it slowed to about ~10mph then downshift to 1. Sooner than if I was slowing in green dot mode. In the small dot it wouldn't go into first without a near total stop.

Was that something that could be accomplished with valve or spring etc changes or was something messed up? I was a teen and tried my best to break it but never did.

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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 07:42 PM
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There are basically two valvebodies that are commonplace on the C4. One is the 'early' version used till '66, with the little and big dots, and 'drive ranges'. Little dot = Starts in 2nd, shifts to 3rd. Big dot drives normally, using 1, 2, 3. And then "L" gives you first gear and keeps it there unless you mess with the shift lever.


Later in '67, Ford realized that this design was really pretty dumb for most circumstances, and went to a Select-Shift design, where you had D (which shifted 1-2-3 automatically), 2 (for 2nd gear) and 1 (for 1st gear). This had the advantage of allowing proper engine braking on mountain roads, and holding your car in whatever gear you wanted, instead of what the transmission thought was best.


Generally, any performance oriented C4 will use the later Select-Shift valvebody, which can be retrofitted into the earlier cases without trouble.

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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 08:43 PM
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It’s not only the valve body. The shifter housing is different to lock the shifter into the correct gear. It’s pretty common to find a 65/66 with a later valve body, but still using the original shifter housing. This was te case with my 66. I thought something was wrong with my tranny because it dint shift. Into 3rd until I realized it had a 67 style valve body. So I replaced the shifter housing and bezel to match.

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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flade View Post
It’s not only the valve body. The shifter housing is different to lock the shifter into the correct gear. It’s pretty common to find a 65/66 with a later valve body, but still using the original shifter housing. This was te case with my 66. I thought something was wrong with my tranny because it dint shift. Into 3rd until I realized it had a 67 style valve body. So I replaced the shifter housing and bezel to match.
What do I look for to work out which valve body I have?

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