Short shift kit for Vanagon syncro


New member
Capt Mike,

I have an '88 Van syncro. I purchased a Gene Berg short shift kit, but it does not seem to fit. A collar gets hung up on the bend in the shift lever.

Other than getting the collar past the bend, are there any other problems with installing this on a syncro? The guy at Gene Berg claims it's not a problem, but I'm not too sure. Thanks again for any help!

Capt. Mike

Yes, basically it will damage the transmission. VW's long & slightly sloppy shift is the result of the long linkage. The cures are worse than the disease. When you put in these 'kits' & extensions to change the throws, they all put pressure on the linkage that translates into pressure on the internal shift mechanism. This in turn removes the clearances designed into the shifting forks and gear clusters, accelerating wear.

Considering the added cost and complexity of a syncro tranny, is it worth it? My opinion, NO. Properly adjusted, most of the shifting woes are just a matter of getting used to it's quirks.
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Tim Hannink

New member
I have installed the Berg short shift kit and lever extension on my '87 camper and would recommend it highly.
The kit works by raising the pivot point of the shifter lever by about 1", nothing else. This reduces the amount of travel (throw) at the top of the shaft without changing the amount or angle of travel at the bottom of the shaft. When you add the 6" shift lever extension, the throw length is the same as the stock shifter, except now, the shifter is higher and there is no need to reach down for it any longer.
Make sure all of your shifter bushings are in good condition before adding the shift kit - it won't correct any slop in the linkage.
This was easily one of the best modifications I have made to the van. The drive train page of my website has an photo of the shifter with the kit and extension installed if you're interested.

Tim Hannink
Goldibox - 1987 Vanagon Camper, Wolfsburg Edition
Winter Park, Florida My" TARGET=_blank>[url] Web Page</A>


I have to laugh at the idea of "short shifter" mods for a Vanagon. I used to own a 1958 Kenworth Pacific 60 passenger bus. It was rear engine, rear transmission. The trans was a 5 speed, with a 2 speed splitter. The shift pattern was reversed from standard, ie 1st was up and to the right, 2nd down etc. The shift throw was at least 12" between gears. It took the gigantic engine days to wind down to match the engine speed with the gear speed. I drove that rig thousands of miles.

The long and short of it, (no pun intended) is that you are never going to "quick shift" a vanagon without wearing out the syncos. Besides, matching engine speed with gear speeds requires time for the engine to slow down to match (or speed up if you are down shifting) It seems no one double clutchs any more. You can gain tens of thousands miles on your gearbox syncos by learning to properly double clutch down shift.


Capt. Mike

The Goldibox link of 12/26/01 is dead. Attempts to contact him at the posted email for an updated link were rejected. Kit manufacturer Gene Berg has a web site but it has a virus or bug that causes it to recycle continuously.

Tim Hannink

New member
My webpage <> is still active, the photo is still on the DRIVELINE page. Somehow the formatting in my signature on that particular message has screwed up the hyperlink.

Mike, you have contacted me before on other subjects via that email address, so I don't know what the issue might be. I can also be reached at; I check that address more often and Yahoo does a much better job at blocking spam (and not real messages) than Earthlink does. I also log on to the board weekly.

The Gene Berg website link cycles but if you hit stop enough times it will provide the following information:

Vanagon Quick Shift

This nifty set shortens the shifter travel by about 25%. The extension gets the handle up and over, closer to the driver so you do not have to keep reaching for the shifter. Makes it a pleasure to shift, the way it should have come from the factory. Originated by Gene Berg in 1984. Made in USA by Gene Berg Enterprises.

GB 6780 Easy shift kit for 12mm shaft. Includes GB 6790 and GB 6782. SW 5#

GB 6782 5" extension for 12mm shaft. SW 2#

GB 6785 Easy shift kit for 14mm shaft. Includes GB 6790 and GB 6787. Mid 1984-on. SW 5#

GB 6787 5" extension for 14mm shaft. SW 2#

GB 6790 5" Easy shift riser kit only. SW 2#

My original transmission has 253,000 miles (100k with the Berg kit) on it; would double-clutching really help me "gain tens of thousands miles on my gearbox syncros"? I thought that fully syncronous transmissions eliminated the need for double-clutching.

Also the kit only shortens the length of throws. How quickly you choose to shift is up to you, with or without the Berg Kit.