The VW Beetle too had a similar shift I remember. As one of our relative had it .. it died a natural death when he bought a newer car and let the beetle rot to death ..
in the VW I maybe wrong, but you had to put in neutral, then push it down and then you move to R.
Ah-ha! I think you've nailed it!
My 'best friend' at school bought an ancient (c1957?) Beetle when we were about 12, cost him £50 or something*. Their house was at the end of a small country lane, that then morphed into a dirt farm track, that then went down a large hill with a lazy swoop left past fields. That was our 'burn it up' circuit... up and down we'd go aiming to slide through the bend... usually ended by a bollocking from his mother for pilfering petrol out of her lawnmower ... happy days...
* Never mind the joke from Little Britain about the 'chocolate brown' car. This car was
! Not only that but someone had painted it with domestic gloss paint that had turned semi-matt with age, but it still had all the bristle brush marks in it, with the occasional stray bristle stuck on.
Ironic, as that would be quite a rare car now. It was the model with the tiny (40cm?) oval rear-window...
--- That was an 'unadopted road'; so essentially a private road. Hence no need for licenses, road tax, MOT, insurance ... 'have a pint of fuel => will go!!'
Pretty much like this...