CC Floor Shift Chronicles, Part 1: What Was The First Car To Have A Floor-Shifted Automatic?

Corvette 1953 Roadster_Interior

I ask that because I’m currently reading an interesting book in German (“Blick Aus Der Grube”) by a former Mercedes and Audi Development Engineer (Fritz Nauman) in which he says that he essentially invented the floor shift for automatic transmission by accident in about 1961 or so, when he was testing a number of different American automatic transmissions in an old W189 (“Adenauer 300”)  Mercedes test mule fitted with the V8 engine for the upcoming W100 MB 600.  Hooking up a column shifter for the Chrysler Torqueflite was proving to be very difficult, so he just cut a slot in the transmission tunnel and grafted on a crude shift lever, and sealed the gap with some strips of rubber. Mercedes top engineer Rudolf Ulenhaut drove it once and loved the directness of the floor shift, and that led to the 1963 “Pagoda” 230 SL having a floor shifter for its automatic.

Nauman says “it was to my knowledge the world’s first floor-mounted automatic transmission shifter” (my translation). Well, he was off by almost a full decade, at least. The very first 1953 Corvette only came with a Powerglide, and with a floor-mounted shifter. The question for you is this: was there another production car earlier than the Corvette? And what was the first non-sports car application for a floor shifted automatic?