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Row, Row, Row the Gears

How-To Install a Shifter

Photography by Cullen Clutterham

Few factory cars can claim better acceleration times with an automatic trans- mission. Those that can are priced in the six-figure range, well out of the reach of most people. Pricing, however, isn’t the only problem with these cars. Another larger problem is that in most instances, it is down-right idiotic to modify them. That poses a huge issue with MAXsters the world over, and this must be why we love our Volkswagens. With awesome potential from the factory, they are great canvasses to begin building an automotive masterpiece, that is, of course, if you purchase your car with a manual transmission.

B&M Racing of Chatsworth, California, found that, while preferable to their automatic counterparts, the VW shifter begs for aftermarket improvement. The OE design has quite a bit of slop built into it through the reverse selection mechanism, something that negates the awesome feeling a manual transmission can give. The VW shift mechanisms can sometimes feel as slushy in your hand as an automatic transmission feels under your foot. B&M’s unit does away almost completely with that slop and shortens the shift throw. Designed for pushdown models (Golf IVs, Jetta IVs, and New Beetles.—MAX), the unit is constructed from aluminum and steel and includes all necessary hardware with detailed instructions for installation.

B&M’s history extends back to the 1950s and ’60s when the company’s transmissions and transmission accessories were dominating several racing series, especially drag racing. B&M products are still used in race and street cars from this era, but B&M has expanded its line to cover the Euro market. B&M’s short shifter is used by Ford Motor Company in its race-ready SVT Cobra R, a testament to the innovation and quality of the products that B&M manufactures. But you don’t want to hear about Fords, you want to know about the latest product from B&M for your VW. The most noticeable part of the shifter is how large the lever seems when you pull it out of the box. Part of this is due to the fact that the shifter comes with its own shift knob. The other part of it has to do with how B&M eliminates much of the slop that is in the stock shifter mechanism. Rather than retaining the stock pushdown mechanism, the new short throw shifter uses a spring-loaded sleeve that is pulled up in order to shift the car into reverse. The shift knob is a nice aluminum piece that fits in the palm perfectly and includes a textured billet insert adorned with the B&M logo.

Once installed, the shifter felt awesome, definitely allowing quicker shifts. Aside from the inherent performance improvements in installing the short throw shifter, aesthetically the impact is huge. Follow along as we take you through the install of the new B&M short throw shifter on a 2001 GTI VR6 GLX.

B&M Racing
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