Fitting a short-shift kit – one that reduces gear-lever travel – was once a job that was harder than it first looked. I well remember driving a car that had a short-shift fitted, a modification that also caused an oil leak from the top of the gearbox! But now, especially if you have a FWD Volkswagen (or a car that’s Volkswagen-based), it’s a no-sweat job suitable for even the beginner modifier.
The kit we bought was from Forge Motorsport in the UK. Called the “Quickshifter for early VAG 5 speed and later 1.4 6 speed transmissions”, the kit cost £68 plus £16 for freight to us here in Australia. (Kits to suit other transmissions are also available.)
The company was good to deal with and the freight that we negotiated is cheaper than normally listed. It was quick too – less than ten days.
The kit initially looks rather more complex than it actually is. That’s because several parts are supplied so that the kit will suit all versions of the VAG 5-speed. In fact, only three parts - plus the supplied grease - are used.
The main part is this hefty machined piece of steel. It looks well-made and strong.
The most time-consuming part of fitting the kit is accessing the top of the gearbox – but even this takes only minutes. Depending on the car, you may need to remove the airbox and/or the battery – in this Skoda, we chose to do both.
With those parts out of the way, the gear-mechanism is revealed. This is the view looking straight down from the top of the engine bay – you don’t need to get down onto the ground at all.
The gear-change cable then needs to be removed from its stud. In the provided instructions Forge show a ball joint being removed; in this car it was as simple as pulling off this clip….
…that allowed the cable fitting to be slid off.
The other cable (the one associated with the side-to-side movement of the gear-lever) could be then be pulled off without removing any clips.
The 13mm nut that holds the lever to the gearbox can then be undone. The lever then pulls off its splines; you’ll need to rock it back and forth before it comes loose.
The removed lever looks like this. We assume the large weight on the bottom left is to aid gear changing; the Forge replacement doesn’t have this extension.
The next step is to select the correct spigot from the three provided in the kit and attach it within the slot as shown here.
Where you place the spigot within the slot will determine the gear throw length. Here it is positioned to provide the shortest throw; at the other end of the slot the throw will be standard (or standard for this Skoda anyway; other VAG products may vary in their standard gear-throw).
With the new spigot in place, the moving parts are greased and the new bracket is placed back on the splined shaft. There is a key present (arrowed) so the bracket can go on in only one orientation.
Here’s the finished article – just replace the parts removed to gain access (eg the airbox and battery) and you’re ready to hit the road.
We set the spigot position to give the shortest throw – and on the road the shift throw is clearly reduced. The gearbox is therefore notchier and the effort higher – there’s less leverage so these changes have to apply.
But the gearshift also feel far better and is more precise. We love it!