Project Budget 400WHP S197 Mustang Track Car: Part 10 – MGW Short Shifter

We greatly improve the feel and control of our S197 Mustang’s Getrag MT82 transmission with a short shift kit from MGW.

The Getrag MT-82 is well-known for not being the best shifting transmission out there.  In fact, there is a lot of negativity towards this gearbox, and our Project Budget 400whp Track Car could easily add to that.  The shifter is vague and rubbery and to make matters worse, the rubber isolator in the shift lever is completely blown out, causing excessive slop.

However, the vast majority of these issues come down to the design and quality of parts used in the MT-82’s shift linkage.  When new, these rubber bushings are not all that bad, but they quickly wear out and become problematic.  Fortunately, instead of dropping thousands of dollars on better gearbox, we can replace the entire shift linkage and bushings with high quality, precision pieces to greatly improve the feel and control of our shifter.

MGW Short Shift Kit MT82 S197 MustangThere are a lot of short shift kits out there, but most fall short of MGW’s level of precision, quality, and level of engineering that goes into their products.  Which is what you would expect from a company who manufacturers firearms.  In fact, the brand’s acronym is actually Michigan Gun Works.

We bought MGW’s complete shift kit, including the lower shift base.  This is a comprehensive kit that includes a sophisticated billet shifting mechanism, tight tolerance lower mounting base, all necessary hardware, and sound deadening material to keep NVH to a minimum.

Now I must admit that I’m generally not a fan of short shift kits and don’t like the majority of them (for any car) and usually prefer stock over an unnecessarily short, notchy shifter that requires more physical effort and is often slower to shift.  I have rarely owned short shift kits on my personal cars and when I do, they are well-engineered pieces that aren’t cheap.  In these rare cases, I typically get the longest shift throws possible because I’m looking for the tighter tolerance components, not the geometrically shorter shifter.

This MGW was no different.  I ordered their least-aggressive shift kit with their longest shift lever.  I wanted to minimize the reduction in throw and just wanted the benefits of their high-quality components.  I also would recommend anyone reading this to NOT order anything other than MGW’s longest shift kits, because their medium and super short shift kit are just too short, require too much effort, and will more than likely increase synchro wear for the majority of people who buy them.

MGW SSK S197 MT82MGW’s shifter is a work or precision art.  This billet shifter is of extremely high quality that far exceeds OEM standards.

MGW SSK MustangThe billet base of this shifter is extremely high-tolerance, which is key for reducing slop and making this shifter feel bolt-action rifle precise.

MGW SSK brace S197 MustangMGW’s optional lower shifter mount completely changes the mounting of the shifting mechanism.  This lower mount makes the shifter base and transmission effectively one, solid piece.  By comparison, the stock shifter (and the MGW shifter when not opting for this base) mounts to both the transmission and a big, soft chassis-mounted bushing on the chassis.  This stock layout has more points of movement, slop, and vagueness to the shifting system.


  1. Are you rev matching before you shift? Double clutching definitely helps the gears engage smoothly and should reduce shift effort substantially.

    I assume that you are doing this considering your motorsport background, but for some reason not everyone does it, probably because they don’t have the seat time in to get it down. It can also be pretty loud depending on your exhaust system.

    Cool parts, it’s a shame that the billet goodness is buried in the tunnel. It’s almost worth reshaping the tunnel to have the entire linkage exposed, but that would only be worthy if it was a racecar with the entire interior removed.

    1. Double-clutching is a very rare technique that definitely help smoothen out downshifts for cars with bad synchros. I’m proficient at it but typically don’t do it on the street or in races.

      1. I don’t do it at low speed but I find it absolutely necessary at high speed or spirited driving. Also, it’s imperative to get into lower gears smoothly at an Autocrox.

        People seem to think that double clutching and rev matching are ‘show off’ maneuvers, but if that were really the case then it would be pointless during canyon carving which is when I do it most. In reality, the shifts are so smooth and easy, that it’s obviously a better method to anybody with mechanical sympathy. As an mechanical engineer, I would never waste my time with a technique if I didn’t actually think it performed better.

  2. The shifter mechanism is nice and all, but that lower mount is pure overengineered art and a darn shame it’s hidden.

  3. I’ve got a Blainefab 4″ dildo shift knob on a regular T56 MGW shifter.

    I can’t imagine a short knob on the thing. It also gets the shifter closer to the wheel with the shifter itself angled toward the left. This is on my road race only 4th gen Camaro, I really like this combo but I don’t know that I’d want it on my street driven Corvette.

  4. while I know this shifter is great, just upgrading that giant sloppy bushing to a 2 post bracket will get you most of the way there. When I had my S197 it was literally impossible to shift fast at high rpm. I got a Barton 2 post bracket and I could slam shifts on it like any Honda… Although my Mustang was new at the time, with higher mileage there could be other wear on the shifter and transmission which might reduce “shiftability”.
    Basically its Tremec 100% best, MGW shifter 65% best (based on Billy’s comments on the last page), quality brand 2 post bracket 55% best. And the 2 post brackets are like 1/4 (or less) price of a full shifter setup like this. When I just bought the Mustang I was planning to go ham on the shifter cause of how horrible it was stock, but after getting just the bracket I didn’t see a need to spend more money. And like Billy, I’m also not a fan of overly short throw shifters, I thought stock throw distance was perfect, so not having to go to a short throw shifter was a bonus.

  5. Im looking forward to the rest of this series. If there is one. How does the car handle on the track? I have an S197 and value what I’ve been reading. Thank you for the time putting this together.

  6. I am with Shane above. Would love to hear how the car performs on the track. Thinking for using some of the same parts

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