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Shaving Time with Challenger Short Throw Shifters

Shaving Time with Challenger Short Throw Shifters

There are a lot of ways to make your third-generation Challenger a faster car. Building the engine, adding bigger tires, lower ring gears, and weight reduction are all great ways to help the car move more quickly under its own power. But what about you? How can you make you faster? Manual Challenger drivers are stuck to having to manually shift gears like white on rice. This can be especially frustrating when you’re up against an automatic car set up with a ratchet shifter.

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As enthusiasts, we always focus on making our builds faster, stronger. We rarely focus on making ourselves better drivers or faster drivers. A short throw shifter might not make you a better driver, but it will improve shift times, a factor dependent mostly on us drivers. If you're looking for more engagement with your Challenger as well as a way to shave seconds from your track times, a short throw shifter will do the job.

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Shifters in Racing

Aftermarket shifters have been fitted to racecars since the beginning of hot rodding. Automatic transmissions are constantly matched with shifters and shift kits designed to help the driver run through gears as fast as possible.

Manual transmissions have drivers up against the odds of clutching and shifting that can take up a lot of time. There isn’t much out there to help these guys make a fluid motion out of this aside from just practice. Even with all the practice in the world, shifting gears can eat up a lot of time with a manual transmission.

Short Throw Shifter: 44% throw reduction

Short throw shifters are readily available for Challengers to help reduce the amount of time it takes to switch through the gears. With a short throw shifter you will find that the throw is reduced up to or around 44%. This means that you will only have to move the shifter about half the distance in order to get into the next gear.

Shaving Time: The amount of time saved by moving your hand into the next gear faster may be minimal in one movement, but if you’re shifting three or four times in a drag race or however many times you will on a road course those tiny increments stack up. This is a great way to shave time of your ET.

Are Short Throw Shifters Dangerous?

Short throw shifters shouldn’t be hard on any parts in theory. They only reduce the distance you have to move a lever to engage gears. When you begin accelerating more rapidly and dumping the clutch more frequently because of your increased speed, this is what leads to things being broken. Otherwise they’re nothing but a simple level mechanism attached to your Challenger’s transmission.

Why Do You Need One?

A short throw shifter is a perfect match for a manual Challenger. These cars are designed to blast through gears as fast as possible. With a beefed up engine under the hood, you’re only holding yourself back by not helping yourself improve your shift times.

What’s Needed to Convert?

Short throw shifters are bundled into complete kits. This means you will get away with using only one part number in order to buy what you need to get the job done.

If you plan on making other shifter modifications like adding a line lock to the brake system with a button run to the shifter, this is also the time to make the upgrade. 
Though, you will want to consider a kit with buttons already built into the handle as they will provide a much cleaner look.

Short throw shifters serve a purpose in all sorts of precision driving. Autocross, road racing, drag racing, and even burnout competitions will become much more enjoyable with a quicker shift pattern.

How to Install

To install a short throw shifter on your third-generation Challenger you will need to remove the top of the center console to access the shift lever mounting point on the transmission. You will also want to make sure that the shifter is in neutral before removing the old shifter from the transmission; otherwise leaving the transmission in gear will make it hard to line up the new shifter correctly. 

This job will be very time consuming and you will be dealing with a lot of small parts. It’s also a job that requires a clear mind free of any stress so you will want to set aside a couple of hours to avoid running into a situation where you are rushing and may lose parts or install the shifter wrong leaving yourself in a total mess.

Professional Help: This is one of those jobs where experience is key. The nature of the job requires a keen eye and a trained hand that is familiar with the systems. Professional shops deal with these types of upgrades every day and will have it turned around for you faster than you could book the appointment. There’s no shame in turning to professionals for help.

It’s not so much hooking the shifter up that makes it a major pain as it is getting to it in the first place. The Challenger has a lot of plastic trim that will need to be removed to access the shifter, and without the proper tools it’s very easy to break something. If you wind up cracking the trim and losing your head the shifter install will become much more aggravating and may drive you to walk away. It’s a minor job and there’s nothing wrong with letting the pros handle it.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon