As an owner of M&M Transmission and a celebrated race car driver campaigning Jason Carter’s 1978 Malibu in heads-up classes across the country, Mark Micke consistently comes up with ways in which his customers — and he — can be even more competitive.
His latest creation is a shifter which is as beautiful as it is buzzworthy.
“I noticed that there was a need in the market for the kind of shifter we use for our types of customers and our types of transmissions, so I started asking our customers if they noticed that as well,” said Micke, whose wife, Maria Micke, is co-owner of their shop based in Jefferson City, Missouri. “We came to the conclusion that some companies had come close with their shifters, but we were confident that we could lock down a kick-ass piece to offer, especially considering our race background and transmission-building background.”
Micke brought David Wolfe of Wolfe Race Craft onboard to brainstorm in the fall of 2015, and after Micke designed the shifter on paper, Wolfe designed it on AutoCAD. The pair continued to tweak it until it met their expectations and motivated them to begin researching and developing parts.
“David and I spent a year beating up this idea and that idea before coming up with a product we wanted to put out,” said Micke. “Finally, in the fall of 2016, we used what we had come up with to build a few shifters. I tried one in the Malibu and gave them to some customers to try. They went crazy for them when they saw them, which we were pleased about, and they gave us good feedback after they used them. After a few refinements, we started selling them in late November.”
The shifters start out as billet 6061 T6 aluminum that is machined for two hours before M&M Transmission staffer Ryan Stegman cleans and polishes them. They’re then anodized and laser-etched, and stainless steel bracketry, fasteners, hardware and shifter arms are added, as is the cable, which is custom-made by Glendinning Products in South Carolina.
“The cable is high-end, and that’s an important part of the shifter which many people overlook,” said Micke.
After the additional hour Stegman spends on final assembly, the shifter is placed on the shelf.
“Ryan treats every shifter like it’s his baby,” said Micke. “His attention to detail is incredible, and he really takes pride in what he does.”
The shifters are available in a two speed-specific version which work with Powerglides and two-speed Turbo 400s, a three speed-specific safe neutral version which works with Turbo 400s and a standard three speed-specific reverse pattern for Turbo 350s and Turbo 400s.
Customers can choose black, which is the most popular, or black with blue accents or black with red accents. They can also choose custom colors for the shifters, which come with an M&M Transmission logo and have room for additional logos.
Additional selling points for the shifter include the fact that it weighs in at a fit-and-trim three pounds and eight ounces, and M&M Transmission offers accessories to accompany it, including air shifters, line-lock buttons, brackets and mounts.
We’re proud that our shifters are in a lot of record-setting cars, and we’re proud that racers have told us how functional they are, how easy they are to use and how smoothly they operate. – Mark Micke
Among the many drivers already relying on the M&M Transmission shifter is Mark “Woody” Woodfuff, whose 2010 Corvette ZR1 is powered by a Sonny’s Racing Engines Semi Hemi-headed 522ci Chevy engine fronted by twin Precision turbos and backed by an M&M Transmission-built two-speed lock-up TurboGlide 400. Additionally, Dragzine’s 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which is known as Project Blown Z06 and is being built to be piloted by Power Automedia CEO James Lawrence in Outlaw/Limited Drag Radial, Pro 275 and NMCA competition, will feature an M&M Transmission-built Turbo 400 and one of the company’s new state-of-the-art shifters.
“I love the new M&M shifter,” said Woodruff, who has wheeled to a 3.83 and 212 mph in the eighth-mile. “It’s so smooth with positive shifts. It’s quality at its best, and it’s all American-made with billet aluminum. What guy does not love billet? It’s simply the best shifter ever made. The shifter along with M&M’s customer service is a win-win in my book.”