180SX – Getting it Shifted

This cars had a long history of different gearbox’s. Firstly I had an S14 5 speed, it was a great feeling gearbox but didn’t stand a chance against my clutch choice of the ORC Twin Plate, I tried my hardest to drive it smoothly and it broke within a couple of meetings. From there I converted to a Z32 300ZX gearbox, the only thing I didn’t like about the Z32 box was the twin universal outboard shift arrangement. I kept this gearbox in the car for over 2 years and it never had any issues, I then went to the RB25 gearbox for the nicer change feel that was very similar to the stock S14 gearbox the car once had. The issue was the shifter sat so far forward it needed a dog leg bend to have it sit in the right position. After a year with the dog leg bend I thought I would try something a little different.

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In my research for gearbox’s with the Hilux I came across a few race cars with these external body mounted shifters, the more I looked into it the more I thought I could do with one in the 180SX. I spent some time gathering the bits and making what I could, all the bits I couldnt make I drew up and my friend got busy on the CNC machine, I can see why many race teams have a small 5th axis mill in the shop because I am at that point where so much could be done so easily with one of these mills. The rose joint is a QA1 allumium teflon lined piece the same as on the Hiluxs suspension.


This is the connecting rod between the handle and…..


The gearbox selector, you cant afford to have any side to side movement but you do need up and down movement, I would have liked to use roller bearings but this will work fine.


With the connecting rod attached I can now put the dust cover it all.


With the dust cover (tie rod boot) and inspection panel fitted (this was part of the new tunnel I built into the car last year) it all looks pretty neat.

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The tabs for the handle I TIG welded onto the body, its such a crap job TIG welding onto the factory body, this is the exact reason I started the Hilux from scratch.


With everything back in position I could jump in and test it up the drive, feels amazing although the shift is a little short, I think Ill make another handle with more adjustment or just shorten this one.

  1. Looks good man, Very good idea instead of a Dog leg as a friend recently did the same as you with the Dog Leg as he put a RB25 box on his SR20 in his 14 and if you had to go into 1st,3rd or 5th he smashed his centre console. This would have been a perfect alternative!
    Very creative Nigel!
    Keep it up and you should definitely come across to the UK at some point 🙂

  2. Does running the connecting rod at such an angle not increase the amount of force needed to select gears?

    • Yeah it would, but like a short-shifter the angle reduces the travel required to shift.

      Also has to clear what is left of the interior so probably can’t come down any lower.

  3. im kinda confused on how this works…

  4. is it just a foward and back movement to shift?

    • The rose joint allows side to side movement enough for the H pattern and there is no play in the connecting rod side to side so that movement is transferred directly to the the factory ball joint the same as it normally would.

  5. Do you run solid engine/trans mounts? I think this is really cool but I would be concerned about the fact that the shifter is mounted to the body and not the trans. I would think the movement between the trans relative to the car could cause the trans to potentially pop out of gear?


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