Your transport lever sounds like it is working properly. You must pull the lever out somewhat to wind the camera, and then fold it back in after use, not much different than the lever on Nikon SLR cameras.
There are three versions of this camera, the SP, UC, and SPN. With the exception of the battery test lamp on the SPN, and the color of the lens housings, the cameras are mechanically the same. The levers work the same on all three (I have several examples of each csmera). I am not sure about the production years of these cameras, I have never bothered to check it out.