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Cotal gearbox – Shifting gears

Cotal gearbox overview: why a mustard pot?

The Cotal gearbox is an electromagnetic gearbox. This means that the gear change is triggered by an electrical signal and not by a mechanical action (lever on the floor, dashboard or steering wheel).
So, in theory, all you need is a 4-position switch to operate a Cotal gearbox. However, the choice that has been made – probably in order not to break too abruptly with tradition – is a switch disguised as a very small gearshift.  This one can be manipulated without forcing, without cracking, with two fingers or with the palm of the hand.

Its funny little spherical head and the thinness of the stem on which it is perched have led to its being called a “mustard pot”. A trivial culinary comparison but, it must be admitted, quite justified.

How to shift gears in a car equipped with a Cotal gearbox?

How to shift gears in a car equipped with a Cotal gearbox? For our example, we have chosen the Delahaye 135M Cabriolet Grand Luxe of 1948, bodied by Chapron.

First an explanation: yes, there is a big and long lever on the floor. But it’s just a “forward – reverse” lever.

That is to say that there are actually – in theory – 4 forward gears and 4 reverse gears. By the way, it is advisable to always shift into 3rd gear for reverse.

Otherwise, the use is very easy. For example, in steady speed, shifting up a gear does not require disengagement or deceleration. To downshift, it is still recommended to disengage the clutch, which makes driving smoother.

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