One of the big pluses of the 944 series of cars is it’s simplicity. It also was designed and built at a time before “advanced resins” and “fiber composites” were common means to weight reduction. You want to save weight? Aluminum. Need to cut more weight? Titanium. Bottom line – metal, not plastics.
The shift linkage in a 944 is a beautifully simple thing. The shift lever is a metal thing, joined to the transaxle by a metal tube, which then works the metal linkages on the transaxle to shift gears. Not a lot of plastics here – good ol’ metal parts without pulleys, wires, cables and such.
There is one wear point in the shift mechanism, the shifter itself. If you were to take the shift boot off the shift lever, you would see the vertical lever with a pin sticking out of the side of it, slid through a tube on the end of the shift rod. Simple, but that pin and tube are what makes the 944 shifter so precise – or so sloppy.
When the shifter pin wears out, it takes on an elongated shape, narrower at each end and fat in the middle. Also the inside of the tube can also wear, making the ends wider. Either or both of these conditions causes the shifter to become “imprecise” to some level. The action of shifting can get bad enough that hitting third or fifth gear becomes an act of pure faith.
The first two images in this diagram shows how the worn pin or worn tube can mess up the shifter action. (Special thanks to Only944.com for this animation.)
Just changing the shifter with a new one may not cure the problem if the tube is also worn. Replacing the shifter tube with a used one is difficult and – it’s used, so it may also be worn.
The answer is this nice shifter from Only944.com. The right side image shows how the pin on the Only944.com shifter uses a bolt to sandwich the tube between two bearings, eliminating any play in the shifter. By compensating for the worn shaft AND the worn tube, this shifter will restore positive shifting to your 924, 944 or 924S.
Oh, yea – Only944 also has a short shift kit and a positive mechanical linkage that mount to the top of the transaxle. These cool parts replace worn items and rubber bushings to finish the job. Want your 944 to shift like a Miata? This is the setup you want.
The shifter is only $67 plus shipping. Add the short shift kit for $97 and the shift linkage arm for an additional $28 for the slickest shifting on the planet.
Only944.com also has some other really nice parts and pieces. Look for an article soon when we install the Only944.com seat upholstery on one of our rescued 924S’s. Nice stuff.