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Schematic from Courtesy Nissan web site
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How to Install
TopSpeed Short-Shifter
(short-throw shifter)
on a 300ZX ('90 - '96)

Introduction: First, let's clear up some misconceptions running around the 300ZX world about short-throw shifters. Seems a lot of folks are installing shortened stock (or aftermarket) shifters and calling them a "short-shifter." They are not true short-throw shifters—they reduce the shift travel by lowering the height of the shift knob. A true short-throw shifter is longer than a stock shifter—the lengthened portion is below the control socket (fulcrum). The shift knob will remain at stock height; in fact the only way you will know that it's a short-shifter is when you shift—it will be a shorter throw. (See the short-shifter install article on the 350Z for a photo comparison.)

Notes: Your 300ZX may have one of the control socket bolts welded in. If this is the case, you will not need one of the bolts in the kit. The kit we got from Courtesy included a GReddy-like shift knob—we don't know whether this was a special deal or if the kit always comes with the knob. You can also use this "how to" to replace worn stock shifter bushings—the bushings on our 300ZX were worn to nothing which explains the very sloppy shifter.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Phillips and flat head screw drivers
  • Channel locks or vice grips
  • Thick towel
  • 12 mm open end and ratcheting wrench
  • 1/4" drive ratchet
  • Short 12 and 13mm 1/4" socket
  • 3/8" drive ratchet
  • Any 12 mm 3/8" drive socket
  • 3/8" extension
  • 23mm open end or crescent wrench
  • Magnetic pickup tool (in case a nut or bolt falls down)
  • Grease (white lithium is good)

Shifter Removal and Installation:

1. Fold a thick hand towel and wrap around neck of shift knob. Place vise-grips (or channel locks) on the shift knob. It should be tight enough so it won't slip. Turn knob counterclockwise. It may take quite a bit of force.

2. Remove the center dash section (4 screws). Two screws under two small trim pieces above the air vents, and two screws under the trim between the air vents and audio. If you want to completely remove the section, you will have to unhook the connections to the center dash components.

3. Remove the center console (3 screws). The rear screw is under the ash tray—remove the ash tray to access it. Unhook the electrical connections.

4. Remove the upper and lower dust boots.

5. Remove the holder bracket (four 12mm bolts).

6. Remove the control socket nuts and bolts (one bolt may be welded in).

7. Remove the 12mm shifter attach bolt and remove the shifter.

8. The new shifter is actually three pieces. Take the bottom piece with the hole though it and place the bushings and the stock metal spacer that holds them in place. Put some grease inside the spacer and bushings.

9. Pass this piece through the transmission link assembly, and attach, using the stock 12mm nut and bolt, to the shifter linkage. You may have to spread the shifter linkage arms slightly in order to slide the shifter in. Do not over tighten the bolt; 15 foot pounds at the most.

10. Then take the control socket (flanged side down) and attach using one of the 13 mm nuts and bolts that come with the shifter. The other nut and bolt that come with the kit may not be needed if one of the bolts is welded on the transmission link assembly.

11. Next use the piece that looks like an offset hour glass (middle shifter section) and slide that over the threaded rod on the bottom piece of the shifter. Pack some grease around the middle piece before you slide it into the control socket.

12. Lastly, put the top piece of the shifter on. Tighten that by using a 23 mm open end or crescent wrench.

13. Slide the holder bracket over the shifter and secure with washer and nut.

14. Secure the four 12 mm bolts on the holder bracket to the body of the car.

15. Attach the upper and lower dust boot together and place over shifter. Make sure the arrow on the upper dust boot is facing forward.

16. Slide the metal C-clip over the shifter and into the upper groove of the top shifter piece. This compresses the upper dust boot and holds it in place.

17. Hook up the center console electrical connections and install the center console piece with the shift boot (3 screws).

18. If you unhooked the center dash pannel electrical connections, hook them back up and install the radio trim (4 screws).

19. Screw on the shift knob and now instead of playing "tag-you're-it" with the dash board from 4th to 5th, you're making nice smooth, minimal flicks of the wrist. Gosh, what a difference.

Note: You can further reduce the shift throw distance by using a shorter shift knob—the stock 300ZX shift knob is very tall. We opted for the shorter MOMO Combat with red insert (close match to the AH3 paint) shift knob. The MOMO is ergonometrically designed and has a great feel to it (looks good too).

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Shift knob removal procedure is the same as for the 350Z shown above
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© 2003 Z Chickz
Last updated: Sunday, January 14, 2007 8:45 AM