Automatic Shift Knob
Adding to my arsenal of newbie car mods on my first car, a ’94 Mazda Protege, I replaced my OEM shift knob several times. Nothing was wrong with my stock shifter, in fact looking back at it now, I think it looked the best out of all of the aftermarket ones I replaced it with.
My stock automatic shift knob utilized the HOLD feature, which would downshift from the gear you are currently in. This would allow you to get some more gear flexibility with an automatic transmission. Most of us who had this feature probably used it to pass others on the freeway.
You can see that the automatic shift knob looks like a long rod sticking out of the center console. At the time I was probably influenced by all of the short shifters out there that existed for manual transmissions. Plus, I thought these aftermarket ones looked cool… not sure what I was thinking.
These are the two shift knobs that I used on the car. Eventually I realized that the one on the left with the fake carbon fiber was still too tall, so I went with the fake leather one on the right. Small upgrades, right?
Both aftermarket shift knobs came with set screws that would screw onto the shift rod. These shift knobs would always come undone. I would normally keep an Allen wrench inside the glove compartment in order to tighten regularly.
Because these aftermarket shift knobs are simply just a shift knob without the option of adding the HOLD button, I had to re-wire the button to a custom switch that I picked up at the local Radio Shack. I drilled a 1/2″ hole through the center console to mount the switch, which held to the trim with the supplied bolt on the back end.
I did learn a lot from doing these modifications. Aftermarket shift knobs from Ebay usually tend to look cheap and don’t work very well (at least for the cheap automatic ones). Also, it’s usually better to keep the OEM parts as it simply looks better than cheap aftermarket ones do.
Although I have a hard time thinking about these modifications I did on the first car that I owned, I know that at the time I was having a blast doing it all. I finally got my very first car and I was doing just anything to be able to work on it with my own two hands. Now that, I can empathize with.