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Replacing the OEM Shifter with a B&M Type Short Throw Shifter

The installation of a "short throw shifter" (usually abbreviated to "short shifter") has the benefit of reducing the distance travelled by the gear stick to engage gears, making gear shifts potentially faster. It also has the benefit of shifts feeling more positive and direct.
To achieve this, the distance between the pivot point of the gear lever is extended on the underside, therefore requiring less movement at the gear knob to achieve a larger movement on the underside and to the gearbox.
There are generally two ways to achieve a shorter shift: adapt the OEM stick or install an aftermarket shifter such as B&M or Pacesetter.
This howto is based on the straight replacement of the OEM gear stick with a B&M shifter. This shifter is of outstanding quality and replaces the whole pivot mechanism with a metal housing and pivot joint (the OEM bushings are plastic). Both the Pacesetter and adapting the existing stick will rely on reusing the OEM bushings.
The method of how you wish to achieve a shorter throw is personal and dependent on the amount of movement you want to restrict between gears. Personal decisions can be based on such variables as cost and future adjustability.

 

 
 

The B&M Short Throw Shifter:

The package includes the shifter (complete with replacement pivot housing), grease and a circlip (unused for installation in a 30X).

Also recommended is 2 x shifter bushes - available from Mazda for about $5 each.

Tools Required:
Philips head screwdriver
Flat head screwdriver
2 x 12mm spanners

 

   
 

Step 1
Remove the console section by removing the 4 screws (2 on drivers side, 2 on passengers side) located as shown. For easy access to the screws, slide both the drivers seat and passenger seats fully forward to access the rear screws, and fully backward to access the front screws.
Once all four screws are removed, remove the console assembly by lifting over the handbrake lever and remove from vehicle.

 

   
 

Step 2
Remove the 2 screws and 2 “push plugs” (one of each on drivers side, one of each on passengers side) from the front of the gear stick plastic surround as shown. Remove the gear knob by unscrewing anti-clockwise. Detach the leather gear stick shroud from the groove in the gear stick knob. Gently remove the surround piece by lifting over the gear stick and maneuver the surround so as to see the rear of the cigarette lighter socket. Unplug the cigarette lighter wiring and unplug / unscrew the illuminator light wiring (for the cigarette lighter socket surround). You can now remove this piece of trim from the vehicle.

 

   
 

Step 3
The recess where the shifter goes through the floor may be full of lubricant. Wipe away excess grease with a rag and identify the retaining spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using a flat blade screwdriver, gently prise the spring from the retaining collar.

Leave as is and go to step 4.

 

   
 

Step 4
Jack up car and place on stands.

Locate the underside of the shifter and using the 2 x 12mm spanners, remove the bolt holding the shifter to the linkage arm.

Note: Photo shows shifter after bolt removal.

 

   
 

Step 5
From inside the car, gently pull the shifter arm out of the housing and remove from vehicle.

You can see from the photo the difference in length between the pivot ball and the bottom linkage, with the new shifter being about 30mm longer. This length difference is how the shifter throw is shortened.

Remove the rubber dust boot from the OEM shifter and place on the new shifter.

Install the new bushings to the new shifter.

Note: You will not be using the two white plastic OEM bushings that housed the OEM pivot ball.


 

   
 

Step 6
Apply grease to the O rings on the new shifter and insert into the gear stick receptacle. Firmly push to the bottom of the housing and reinstall the retaining spring.

From under the car, reinstall the linkage arm to the base of the new shifter and tighten with the 12mm spanners.

Note: Do not overtighten this bolt as the linkage arm bracket will compress against the shifter bushing and prevent the linkage moving freely!

   
 

Step 7
Reinstall console, trim and gear knob.

 

     
  Note: This modification was carried out on a vehicle with a modified exhaust. Because of the larger piping and muffler placement, the bolt in the base of the shifter was more difficult to access than with a stock system. The exhaust was unbolted at the front of the catalytic converter to provide more convenient access. (Tools required 2 x 14mm ring spanners and a bit of extra swearing.)