Skip to main content

I just received delivery of my long awaited purchase of a 356 from vintage motors of Calif.  The car is awesome and the finish is great. Took her out this weekend for her first 140 miles. Only one problem, I am having the hardest time getting into reverse. The first day it seem to go in reverse, no problem, then as I was trying to back up at the gas pump, I could not get reverse.  I have been averaging 5 to 10 tries each time I go for reverse. Its the type where you pull up then over and down. Any ideas or suggestions to this problem?



Images (1)
  • 356
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Welcome to the madness. X 2 on contacting Greg.

but if you want to give it a shot yourself...

sounds like you may have to adjust the shifter and/or plate.  Attached for your information are the Vintage speed instructions ( which include adjustment & torque settings for the two bolts you will need to loosen to make adjustments), and some hints on how to move the plate/shifter based on your particular shifting issue.  Adjustments are very slight.

If you are having problems with:

1st gear - Adjust the shifter back

1st and 2nd - Adjust the shifter to the right

2nd gear - Adjust the shifter forward

1st and 3rd - Adjust the shifter back

2nd and 4th - Adjust to the front

3rd - Adjust back

3rd and 4th - Adjust left

4th - Adjust forward

Reverse: adjust the shifter right or front; but just a little.

congratulations and happy driving!!!


Last edited by Lfepardo

Are you sure you're supposed to pull UP on the shift lever to get over to reverse?

I think a lot of shifters similar to the original VW style need to be pushed down in neutral, then over left and back for reverse.  Try that to see if it works - yah never know.  If not, try Luis' instructions above.

The only way to describe a VW Reverse selection for me,  is to Push down and draw a C with the Stick from the top down going left.  Anyway, it works for me.  

Yeah, the VS shifter is a pull up and a nice short shifter.  Unfortunately, it killed my shoulder to pull up and I had to lean in a little for first and third.  Mine should have been bent more I guess.  I sold it to a guy with a bug and it was perfect for him, sitting more upright.  My old trigger shifter works for me and I never worry about bouncing off reverse when shifting to second.

We installed a VS shifter in the wife's Thing (pull up model) but the concept is the same regardless of the action. 

Loosen the allens slightly and use a flathead and lightly tap to position. More to the passenger side if you can't get reverse, more to the drivers if can go into reverse without pulling up on the lever. 

I'll add that I didn't really crank down on the allens when installed and I think my wife is hammering the short shifter into gear. It loosened over about a month and I had to go back and adjust again. 

I had to readjust mine a month or two after I got it. On hard acceleration, third gear would sometimes disappear temporarily, and I ended up replacing the allen head screws with proper hex nuts and washers. When that "didn't work" to keep it in adjustment I tightened my engine and trans mounts. That was five years ago; haven't touched it since.

Really nice piece of equipment. Much better than the mechanic who installed it...


It can take a few tries to get it right, and you won't know until you drive it. You may also find that things change a little once the transmission warms up.

As you probably noticed when you loosened the screws, everything  is free to move at once - the shifter body and the silver 'stop plate' underneath it.

The stop plate is the key.

It's the relationship of the stop plate to the shifter body that determines how far left or right the shift lever is free to move. Making fine, final adjustments is usually a case of keeping the shifter body from moving while you nudge the stop plate left or right, a very small amount.

Another confusing thing is that the stop plate is BELOW the ball while the end of the shift lever you move is (obviously) above the ball. So, to get the lever to move just a bit more to the left (for example), you need to slide the stop plate just a tad to the right (while keeping the shifter body from moving at all).

Hang in there, and you'll find the 'magic' spot eventually.


I know this may sound strange... but years back I printed and laminated the attached (4x4 photo from Corey).   I keep it in my car.   When I drop it off at the shop, or valet park at one of the local hotels/ restaurants (typically car is left up front but they always want the keys just in case they have to move it) — I hang it from the whipper  button... to avoid the “ I could not move your car because I could not get it into reverse” comment.  And most importantly avoid a damaged knob. of the wood woodcraft was cracked in a mechanics efforts to find reverse. ( my knobs don’t have the gear pattern on them).


 I was using the tradition M10 356 knob until I installed one of the woodcraft knobs,



Images (3)
  • 5DEB0F32-AD0B-41AE-BEAE-3EAEABF92624
  • 7C5E8A54-A980-4D2F-AF3D-E75140846E20
  • 56C85FC4-0CD1-4FAD-9CE7-288A2909F6EB
Last edited by Lfepardo

Add Reply

Post Content
Link copied to your clipboard.