Curing The SN95 Lean With Lokar’s AxiShift Shift Handle Adapter

In a recent article, we showcased a TREMEC TKX transmission swap into our SN95. Now, in that article, we mentioned that the new Fox-style bellhousing moved the transmission about 3/4-inch closer to the back of the engine. That means our shifter is now 3/4-inch further away from the driver. Ugh.

Normally, you might just say, “It’s less than an inch, what are you worried about?” Well, there are two key factors here. One, this is in an SN95, which already is notorious for its poor shifter placement in relation to the driver. Two, your author is a bit on the vertically challenged side. So yet another 3/4-inch of reach makes gears 1, 3, and 5 even harder to reach. Enter Lokar and their AxiShift shift lever adapter.

Adding Some Reach

One of the biggest parts of getting an aftermarket shifter right, is the geometry involved. Simply adding a longer handler can solve the reach issue, but then you are adding throw to your actual shift movement. What the AxiShift (P/N: MSL700) does is move the attachment point of your stock shift handle rearward by 1.5 inches, and slightly elevates it (by one inch), which minimizes the effect on the actual feel of the shift distance at your hand.

In addition to moving the shift handle mounting point back and up, the AxiShift allows for 15 degrees of rock (from vertical) forward, back, and side to side. In addition to that, it allows 360-degrees of yaw adjustment, allowing for a huge amount of customization. In our case, by laying the shifter handler directly back 15 degrees, we were able to net an additional two inches of shift handle reach, for a total of 3.5 inches of additional reach over the stock shift handle mounting.

Since our handle was only drilled for the 8mm bolts on the T5 Steeda Tri-Ax, we chucked it up in the mill and opened the holes up to match the TREMEC’s 3/8-24 mounting hardware.

Installing The AxiShift

The installation of the Lokar AxiShift is incredibly simple, but does come with a few notes to be aware of before you get started. The AxiShift is designed to match the shifter handle pattern of various TREMEC transmissions’ shifters, which is 3/8-24 mounting holes, spaced 7/8-inch apart, on center. This is the same bolt pattern as a stock SN95 shifter, but not the same bolt size. The OEM shifter and handle use 8mm hardware, as opposed to the TREMEC’s 3/8-24 mounting hardware.

For our situation, the fix was easy, as all we needed to do was drill out the shift handle’s mounting holes from 8mm to 3/8-inch. Done and done. Going the opposite direction (with an 8mm shifter base) you’d either need to drill and tap the shifter base for 3/8-24 threads, or reuse the 8mm bolts with a 0.375-inch O.D. sleeve. (Ed Note: You might be able to just use the 8mm bolts with the slop, as the AxiShift has a flat that mates with top of the shifter, and the tension from the bolts, plus that flat might be “good enough.” We’d recommend doing it the right way, though.)

Lokar AxiShift

Here, you can see how the AxiShift mounts in the assembly, and how it alters the mounting location of the shifter handle in relation to the installed shifter assembly. Those four tension screws and two smaller set screws lock the handle base in the AxiShift’s ample range of motion, allowing for an absolutely perfect fit to the driver.

With the AxiShift bolted to the TKX shifter and the newly enlarged holes on the Steeda Tri-Ax forged handle fitted with 3/8-inch fine-thread Grade-8 bolts, we set the shift handle to full recline to test the engagement. Unfortunately, with the shape of the Steeda handle, at full tilt, the body of the handle hit the edge of the shift boot trim ring in second, fourth, and reverse. Not enough to prevent engagement of the gear, but enough to annoy us. So, we gave up a little bit of the recline to clear the trim ring, and with the additional three inches of reach, the location is greatly improved.

On a stock T5-equipped SN95, this setup would give you an additional 3 inches of reach. For us, it’s only about 2-1/4 inches over the stock placement, thanks to the shortened TKX bellhousing, but still, it makes a world of difference. Had we known about the AxiShift 14 years ago when we first acquired this SN95, it would have been one of the first upgrades we made. But, at least we have it sorted out now, and the SN95 lean is no more.

On the left, you can see the additional reach offered with the Steeda handle installed vertically (1.5 inches from the AxiShift plus 2.5 inches of setback from the handle itself). On the right, you can see that maxxing out the 15-degree layback offered by the AxiShift nets another 2.0 inches over the vertical orientation.

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Greg Acosta

Greg has spent nineteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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