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"Grabbing the 914 by the Tailshifter and Looking it Straight in the Eyes

Pelican Technical Article:

"Grabbing the 914 by the Tailshifter and Looking it Straight in the Eyes

Tim Polzin


3 hours3 hrs






MIG welder, welding sticks, welding gas, sand paper, metric socket set, metric wrench set, flathead screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

Porsche 914 (1970-76)

Parts Required:

Plastic ball cup, ball cup bracket bushing, bulkhead bushing, transmission support bracket bushing

Performance Gain:

Your tail shift linkage 914 transmission will shift smoothly again

Complementary Modification:

Replace your gear oil and replace your clutch
     Anyone who has the opportunity to drive an early 914 knows the true meaning of what is politely described as a "vague" shift pattern. My 72 914 was no exception. A clipped reverse on a shift into second, finding second when I hoped for 4th (ouch, that one hurt). With a little bit of experience, I was able to fairly regularly shift each gear in sequence, but to say the shifting was enjoyable would certainly be stretching the point.

     What were my options? The most obvious, but also the most radical was completely replacing the transmission, engine mount, linkage, bushings etc etc with a 73 or later side shift. Considering myself cost conscious (some people including my wife call me cheap), I decided to carefully look at the tailshift mechanism to see where most of the free play was. Certainly Porsche would not build a car that shifted like mine! What must it have been like when it was new?

     As I disassembled the shifting linkage, I looked for obvious problems and signs of wear. The first problem I encountered was a cracked plastic ball cup connecting the gear shift lever to the linkage. Replacing it was my first step. Quickly reassembling it, I found nearly half of the vagueness gone! Success! With that being so easy, I thought to myself, with a little more work, I'll have this thing shifting like a ....... er, like it was meant to.

     Looking a little farther down the linkage, I found several bushings, one on the bracket that supports the ball cup, one on the bulkhead. Wiggling the shaft in both, more of the dreaded slop! Surely new bushings will further improve the shifting. In go new bushings on the ball cup bracket and the bulkhead. Another new bushing on the transmission support bracket. Quickly grabbing my Haynes manual, I realigned the shift linkage all the while thinking of the crisp and tight shift pattern I was surely going to have. Into the drivers seat, clutch to the floor, reverse slides nicely into gear, first feels ok, second feels....., hum, remarkably like reverse. Back to the drawing board!

     What's left. There are two ball and cup joins used to link the forward shift linkage to the back. Having my willing wife wiggle the gear shift, I saw more signs of slop. Surely this must be the cause of the remaining scourge. Out comes the back shift rod, and on go two new balls. Hum, they seem about as loose as the old ones. Reassembling everything and not anticipating much improvement, I was not surprised.

     The final assembly I had ignored up to now is the rather ingenious shift finger and cage mechanism at the transmission. Lateral movement on the transmission shift lever is generated by a ball like pivot against the sides of the shift cage. Forward and back movement is transmitted by means of a finger inserted between two parallel rails on the bottom of the shift cage. Once again prying my willing assistant gracefully from her needlework, I watch carefully as the gear shift lever is wiggled. I could quickly see three wear points. The first is wear on the rod as it passes through the bushing on the bracket. The second is wear on the pivot ball, the third is wear on the shift finger and cage. Strategically placed shims confirm my suspicions, I've found the remaining slop. Now what to do about it.

     Again pulling off the rear shift rod, I can quickly see asymmetrical wear on the rod where it passes through the bushing. Looking at the pivot ball, two flat spots stand out. Further wear is obvious on the end of the shift finger and parallel rails on the cage. A friend who is a welder by profession offered to see what he could do. He filled in the wear on the rod with brass, filed even the wear on the cage, and built up the flat spots on the pivot ball and shift finger. A little final sanding and filing and back it went into the car.

     The result? Most of the vagueness is gone. Each gear has a distinct gate. So far, I am quite pleased with the shift pattern. To date I have not missed a gear. The shifting, although not perfect, is now quite crisp. Total cost, about $20, a few hours of my time, a few owed favors to my friend the welder and the promise of a couple minutes of undisturbed needlework time for my wife.

Comments and Suggestions:
brett Comments: I need the hose clamp for the cover at the end of the shit rod.
Where can i purchase one?
June 7, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Monday Comments: Hey I'm installing a rear shift trans in my 69 bug what's the way you would hook up the shifter rod can I cut where it connects to the rod and move it to the top I alreDy flipped the hub
May 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't done this procedure. SO I can't be of much help I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Nic Gold Comments: Every 914 Ive looked under has had a plastic cover concealing this 'linkage'.That hose clamp hanging on the shift rod leads me to believe that something was there. This particular car has been sitting for long time and I'm not sure what this is missing other than bushings.
August 9, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hello, yes there is a plastic boot that covers the linkage where it connects to the fork sticking out of the transmission. Unfortunately that boot is no longer available from Porsche and they were our only source for it. - Glenn at Pelican Parts  
Nic Gold Comments: I'am going to purchase the bushing kit for my previously mentioned tail-shifter. I notice that all 914 tail-shifters I see have a plastic shroud covering the linkage at the end of the shift rod. You see this linkage exposed in the previous photo I posted. Do you have this plastic shroud available? and which bushing kit do I need?
August 9, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think the tail shifters have a cover, the side-shifters do. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Biker Bob Comments: Help can someone please respond to my question posted June 3, 2009 Biker Bob
June 11, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Email me at, I'm slightly confused by your question. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Nic Gold Comments: can you tell me if this is a side shifter or tail-shifter?
June 2, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's a tail shifter - the shift mechanism goes into the rear housing. On the side shift transmissions, the shifter is about six to eight inches forward from the start of the rear housing. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Biker Bob Comments: I purchased your tail shifter bushing repair kit and have replaced all of the bushings. The black balls on the original linkage are good but I have new ones and I think I should replace the old ones. How do I remove the old ones and replace them. Thanks Bob McCool
June 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Which specific part number are you referring to? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Biker Bob Comments: Thanks for your follow-up. I purchased your bushing repair kit for my tail shifter. I have installed all of the bushings but not the black balls. How do I remove the old balls and replace them on the linkage?
May 26, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Put the linkage i na vise and pull the ball off. it will pop off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Biker Bob Comments: Could you add an exploded view of the tail shifter assembly and do you sell the bushings referred to in the article. I see you have parts for the side shifter how about the tail shifter? Thanks
May 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Parts for the tail shifter are typically non-replaceable (that was one of its problems). Diagrams of the tail shifter can be found here: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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