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Automatic floor shifter 97+ Upgrade and Mod.

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Here is a fairly quick and easy Mod that has been done by others so I'll not drag it out too much. The stock floor shifter in pre 97+ XJ's and all of our MJ's are less than ergonomic. The 97+ floor shifter puts it at a better angle and a little higher up. The ZJ shifter handle is in my opinion a better grip. So to get the best of all, here is the Mod.


The problem with the standard floor shifter is that it sets a little low and when in park, it is really blocking easy access to the ash tray. Here are pictures of the Pre 97, 97+ and ZJ shifter in comparison.


You can see the height difference between all of them.



Also here you can see the difference in location in park.



Here is each one in the truck. (My MJ is still in the build process so the lower panel is off the dash.)


Pre 97






And the ZJ shifter. This pic will answer the question, "if you want the ZJ handle, why not swap the whole thing?" Well as you can see, it sits too close and will actually be on the dash.



The only difference in the shifter bases is the location of the console mounting bracket. Since the ZJ one is out, here is the Pre 97 and 97+. The red arrows show the bracket difference.



To get the bracket off the Pre 97, just drill out the two pinch welds. I used a small bit at first then stepped up two more bits to make it easier. Then you have to pry it off carefully as to not mess up the bracket.



Mine did distort just a little but I used the bench vise to flatten it back into the right shape. Now you need to cut off the bracket on the 97+. I just used a sawsall and cut it even with the base. Be careful not to cut into the shifter. I slid the blade inbetween the bracket and shifter and cut outwards to avoid this.



You then need to attach the Pre 97 to the 97+ base. Now at first I thought I'd just drill two holes and use small bolts, but them I remembered that the base needs to set flat and also that there is a gasket on the other side to keep crap from coming up throught the hole it sets in.



So I started to brainstorm on how to get it on there. I guess you could weld it. That’s it, weld it, JB weld it.



So I prepared the base and the bracket with a little wire wheeling before I mixed up some JB Weld. Measured the location from the Pre 97 so I could mark where to put it on the 97+



It comes out to 3 inches to the front of the bracket if you measure like this.



Mixed up a small amount of JB Weld and applied it to the base then set the bracket on it. I plan on using a clamp to hold it in place while it cures so I then used a small piece of Duct tape to cover the bracket so the clamp would not have to be chiseled off and to protect the gasket from getting any JB Weld on it.



Put the clamp on it and make sure the position is right. There is no moving it later. Now go away for 24 hours so it can cure.



Well 24 hours have past and here is the result. As you can see the JB Weld did come through the holes so it was good that the tape was on there. Also learned that you should use painters tape because it did pull a thin layer of the gasket off but it should still be ok.



Now at this point you would re-install the shifter and put the console back over it prior to putting the shifter handle back on but since I'm a little ways away from putting things back together, I'll step through the handle mod. To remove the handles from all the shifters, you just need to pull them up real hard while pushing the button. Now the ZJ shifter rod is a little different from the XJs as it is a smaller diameter farther down the rod.



This allows the longer base of the handle to slide down. Now you don't need to get out the lathe to make the 97+ smaller but this will make getting the handle on quite a bit harder. Once your shifter is installed and the console back over it with the selector panel, put the ZJ handle on as well as you can by hand and then use a rubber mallet to bang it the rest of the way on. It will look like this basically.



And in the truck.



Mine is not completely on all the way because I still have to get the console in but you get the idea. Make sure you have everything in place before putting the handle on all the way. They are a real bear to get back off.


So now when I need to access the ash tray, which is actually a coin tray, I can without problems. Plus with the ZJ handle and the better position of the 97+ shifter, it should feel real nice to shift and give a beefier look.



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Mine was a manual so I swapped everything over from the donor which had the floor shifter for the AW4. I don't believe the column shifter cable will work for the floor shifter. Seem to remember a thread about it not to long ago.


Now if your referring to the other cable from the column that locks the shifter until the switch is turned, that one would be totally different from a column shift and would have to come from the donor of the floor shifter.



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