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MG MGA - 1800 and 5 speed conversion

Hi All,

I recently bit the bullet and decided to have an 1800 motor and a Ford T-9 5 speed installed in my 58 coupe. I LOVE IT!!! It runs soooo much better on the open road. Drove it home to central Oregon from the shop in Portland and it ran like a dream. Absolutely no problem going over Mt. Hood or another very steep, long climb out of Warm Springs, Or.

There is one minor, but annoying, problem. The boot that was put on the shifter is not a very good fit and it occasionally causes the tranny to pop out of 4th gear. It is not much of a problem except when I really need to keep it in 4th gear for a bit. (like when forced to slow down on the steep hills.)

I know that the tunnel had to be cut back a little due to the location of the shifter. Does anyone have an idea as to what kind of boot (maybe from an MGB?) that I can install to lessen the tightness?



I had the identical problem back in 2000 when I did my conversion. In those days the Hi Gear kit had a long throw gear stick. I was under the impression that the later shorter throw stick cured the problem. I made myself an MGB style boot which solved the issue.

I will post a photo and details if you wish.

Steve Gyles

The issue is caused by the original boot being under tension on the slightly fatter T9 gear stick. If you remove the Chrome Ring around the top of the boot the problem will vanish. The standard boot has enough room to slide down the stick and relieve the tension you are seeing as long as the chrome ring is not fitted. The chrome ring designed for the original stick keeps the boot higher up the gear stick, with the result that it pulls the car out of gear.

If you are interested, there is also a Jaguar gear knob that has the correct pattern engraved but is the same shape as the original MGA knob. Details on Barney
dominic clancy

In addition, a smear of silicone brake fluid on the boot and lever allows it to slide very easily.

And I can vouch for the Jag "lookalike" gear knob which Dominic mentions. From (a bad) memory I think it came from the Jag Owners spares website and is a perfect match for the original, just has the five speed pattern engraved which is reassuring, but pretty much unnoticeable. Looks good.
Bruce Mayo

Thanks All,

I don't think that lubrication will do it, as the boot pulls back pretty tightly on the stick. But I'll give that a shot first.

The chrome ring must be under the carpeting because there isn't one on top. I'll check that out if the lube doesn't work.

Steve, I would be interested in seeing the boot picture. The one they put on is kind of 'funky'.

Thanks for the responses,



This is my home-made boot made out of a number of triangular leather cloth pieces sewn together on the wife's sewing machine. I slid it on inside out with the apex inverted. I used a cable tie to secure the neck to the gear shaft, then pulled the cone of fabric down over it and secured around the base with self tappers into the tunnel. I used an old instrument bezel to tidy up the round carpet edge and the finishing Octagon surround is a trunk lid MG emblem.

Sorry, it's all due a vacuum and polish!


Steve Gyles

Pat, I did not have to cut out the tunnel opening. To alleviate the problem I I used 1/4" foam tape under the tunnel adapter around the shifter opening. This raised the opening slightly. ( had to elongate the original attachment holes ) The boot sits in better and more "relaxed". Not noticeable at all.
C.R. Tyrell

C.R., I wish they had not cut the tunnel opening but it's too late now.

Steve, thanks for the pic. That looks pretty good. If nothing else works, I might give that a shot. It would be kind of a fun project.

Thanks guys!

P.S. Added a pic of the coupe.


I was wondering about Pat having the tunnel cut. That was certainly a requirement with the early long throw stick, but I thought that the later short throw stick alleviated the need for that. Makes me wonder if Pat has the earlier gear stick?

This is the later stick.


Steve Gyles

I would suggest you contact Peter Gamble at Hi-Gear. He has many parts for any combination of engines,trans and shifter. I have the short throw shifter and it works perfect. You could buy the short throw shifter from Peter and just get a used tower cover for the shift lever. The amount you would normally have to shave on the tower is VERY LITTLE. Again, talk to Peter. Just go to the archives to get his number.

Jeff Becker
61 MGA

Just looked at my receipt from 2010 for the short throw lever (he calls it an MGA Quickshift gear lever). It cost me 65.00 ($100) plus tax + postage.

Peter's UK Phone/Fax is (0)1332 514503

Steve Gyles

This thread was discussed between 28/05/2014 and 03/06/2014

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