Short shifter modification on the 1995 Saab 900. The procedure also applies to all 1994-1998 900, 1999-2002 9-3 and all 9-5 models. The shifter housing has to be removed from the car to perform the modification. For removal instructions on NG900 and 9-3, refer to this guide. A careful alignment has to be performed after re-installation, so it's perfectly centered and does not rub inside the housing. The reverse lock remains fully functional with this modification.

The main idea is to raise the fulcrum point of the shifter by moving the ball up on the stalk and lifting the ball socket on the housing. This results in a noticeably shorter longtitudinal throw and "meatier" shifter feel. If overdone, however, the shifter becomes too heavy to operate comfortably (at least when you're used to the feel of the stock shifter). Use care and consideration when choosing the adjustment amount.

The biggest amount you can raise the ball by is 30 mm. This will shorten the throw almost by half. I measured the knob travel between the 3rd and 4th gear at 6" in stock configuration and 3¼" when shortened to the max. This much adjustment already pushes the limits of the shifter housing, so it needs to be trimmed some, and the action becomes quite heavy. The recommended adjustment for most people would be about 20 mm.

 

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17.06.2007: Reverse lock
Undo the screw holding the reverse lock plate (Torx T30). Detach the plastic lever leading to the ignition lock from its ball socket and remove the plate.

 

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17.06.2007: Linkage rod
Undo the bolt holding the long linkage rod to the bottom of the shifter. Older cars use a bolt with a Torx T30 head, newer bolts come with a 13 mm hex head.

 

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17.06.2007: Spring
Use needle nose pliers to unhook the spring from the plastic housing.

 

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17.06.2007: Stick
Turn the plastic retainer that holds the ball and lift the shifter rod out.

 

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17.06.2007: Knob
Pulling the knob off the rod takes considerable force, be careful not to break it. In most cases you won't even need to do that. Just cut 20-30 mm off the bottom of the plastic sleeve.

 

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17.06.2007: Ball
The ball is secured with two snap rings. Unseat the snap rings from their grooves, and you can push the ball back and forth along the rod.

 

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17.06.2007: Relocating
One option is to cut a new groove 30 mm away from the old upper groove. This is the limit the shifter can be adjusted to. 30 mm will already be pushing the limits of the shifter housing, and the shifter will be very heavy.

 

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17.06.2007: Cutting
The better option would be to cut TWO new grooves about 20-25 mm up from the old ones. This way you will have more clearance inside the housing, and the shifter will feel a bit lighter. A rotary cutter does the job here.

 

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17.06.2007: New position
Move the ball into the new position and secure the snap rings in their grooves.

 

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17.06.2007: MP shifter
A third option would be to use an adjustable shifter rod from MP Performance if you still can source one - they don't make those anymore.

 

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17.06.2007: Pipe
This 2.75" O.D. piece of pipe will serve to raise the fulcrum point.

 

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17.06.2007: Marking up
Mark the pipe to make the flaps that will extend above the plastic latches.

 

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17.06.2007: First cut
Cut away excess metal. Try to be precise, the flaps must closely match the width of the grooves they go into for a tighter fit.

 

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17.06.2007: Cut off line
Mark the bottom flaps and rectangular slots for plastic latches. Take precise measurements, so there won't be any slack with the latches locked. The height of the extender should be equal to the distance you moved the ball, i.e. 20-25 mm.

 

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17.06.2007: Cutting finished
Cutting a fancy profile in a thick mild steel pipe is not a lot of fun. I used up a dozen cut-off wheels and switched to the old good hack saw for the final horizontal cut.

 

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17.06.2007: Deburring
Take your time cleaning and deburring the extender. Check the fit with the plastic ball socket and adjust if needed.

 

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17.06.2007: Ready to fit
The lower flaps should be cut a bit deeper into the body of the extender so they can be bent inward in the middle.

 

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17.06.2007: In position
Position the extender in the shifter housing so the lower flaps fit the holes previously occupied by plastic latches.

 

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17.06.2007: Flaps bent
Bend the flaps outward to secure the extender in place. If you need extra strength, you can make the flaps longer, drill through and screw them onto the housing, but I've found they hold pretty well when bent like this.

 

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01.07.2007: Screws
Here's an alternative version where the extender is secured by four screws. The opening in the shifter housing is trimmed to allow for extra movement.

 

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17.06.2007: Plastic socket
Slide the plastic ball socket in until the latches click. It should fit tightly if you followed the measurements. Again, you can drill through the flaps and secure them to the plastic housing with small screws.

 

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17.06.2007: Trimming
If you went to the full 30 mm on the shifter rod, you might have to not only trim the housing, but also grind the lower bolt so it's flush with the surface of the nut on the linkage rod.

 

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17.06.2007: Old vs new
I had a luxury of having an extra housing to experiment with. Here's the original housing next to the modified version.

 

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17.06.2007: New handle
My wooden knob is transferred to the new housing. The plastic sleeve is cut about 25 mm shorter at the bottom.

 

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17.06.2007: Ignition lock
The ignition lock is installed into the modified housing.

 

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17.06.2007: Reverse lock
Next, the reverse locking plate goes in. Check if it works correctly before installing the shifter back into the car.

 

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17.06.2007: 5th gear catch
The bottom part of the plastic stalk sleeve can be re-attached using glue or a small hose clamp. And the flimsy 5th gear catch needs to be reinforced so you don't bend it every time you shift into 5th.

 

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01.07.2007: New version
An updated version of the modified housing with a metal 5th gear catch. The plastic ball socket is bolted to the extender for extra strength.

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