in Alfa Romeo, General, Industry, Volkswagen

The Most Unique Gearboxes Ever Sold

If there’s one thing the automotive industry is good at, it’s finding new and unique ways to get us from A to B. Every year, manufacturers create new and improved makes and models that try to build on and innovate previous releases, and today’s modern gearbox is certainly no exception. Over the years, we’ve seen a huge range of unique and differing gearboxes in cars, but some really take the trophy for ‘weird and wonderful’. Here, we’re taking a look at some of the most unique gearboxes ever sold.

The Alfa Romeo Q-System

The Alfa Romeo 156 was a gorgeous car, but with an optional but very unusual twist – while the automatic gearbox was as good as you might expect, and the manual five-speed ‘Selespeed’ gearbox was nothing to shout about but functional, it was the unusual Q-System derivative, featured in the 2.5-litre V6 that really drew the attention. This system essentially featured both a 4-gear manual, and automatic drive system. It featured the standard PRND controls of any automatic drive vehicle, but had a fully-functional H-style manual gear system on an adjacent plane. This particular system didn’t last very long in the standard market, but it was an interesting take on a dual-drive system.

Suzuki 14-Speed

While this particular gear system was found on a racebike rather than a car, we’re still impressed by this incredible vehicle. The Suzuki RK67, built in 1967, was part of a very narrow power band and much of that can be attributed to the 14-speed gearbox it was fitted with. The racebike pulled 17.5HP and a 17,300 RPM redline from a simple 50cc water-cooled twin using the 14-gear system, making it one of their best championship winning bikes at the time.


Preselector gear systems were common in and around the 1930s, and were often considered to be the starting point for the gearboxes we see today. A preselector gearbox required the driver to select the gear ahead of time, and the car would then shift into the chosen gear when you pressed down on the clutch. However, despite the sleek look, the system itself was considered too complex to ever make it to mainstream production, only ever really being used in a number of luxury cars at the time.

Abarth 695 Biposto ‘Dog Ring’ Gearbox

The Abarth 695 Biposto was an expensive car, with some serious expensive upgrades and extras to go with it. Starting at £32,955 for the basic model, buyers could expect to pay out almost £2,000 for polycarbonate windows, carbon styling kit for £3,7000, a track kit with racing dash and helmet for £3,700 and even the ‘124 Speciale’ pack for £2,990. This was without the unique, racing-style Dog Ring gearbox, which was worth £8,500 alone. The exposed lever is something to behold all on it’s own, but it’s the lack of synchromesh and addition of ‘teeth’ on each cog that gives this system one of the fastest gear shifts around. It’s not the smoothest of changes, but in some cases, if the car was travelling fast enough, drivers could change gears without ever needing to touch the clutch.

VW Autostick

The VW Autostick, also marketed as the Volkswagen Automatic Stickshift, was a unique hybrid of a manual and automatic transmission. The three-speed manual transmission was connected to what was essentially a vacuum-operated clutch. The gearstick was set up to easily depress and activate an electric switch, meaning that even just touching the gear would disengage the clutch and allow for a gear change. Removing your hand from the gearstick would re-engage the clutch.

There are plenty of unique and wonderful gearboxes out there, from how they look to how they work and we are always eager to see and learn more about each and every one. For more information about servicing a unique gearbox or to book in your car for gearbox repairs, feel free to get in touch with a member of our team, today.