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.