It is actually much easier, yet more difficult than all have posted (if that makes any sense).
Yes, you have to remove the wood console panel, however the process is for whichever chassis you have. Next you have to be able to access the lock nut for the shifter, the only way to do that is by splitting the shiftgate assembly. The shiftgate assembly is held to the tunnel by four 12mm (I think, might be 10's) bolts.
Using a 1/4" drive ratchet with 6" extension and a socket, remove the four bolts. I suggest using 1/4" drive as one bolt is slightly recessed under the edge of the shiftgate and with 1/4" drive you have easy access. Upon pulling the last bolt the shiftgate assemble will split in two, with the top half trying to turn 90 degrees on you. Lift the top half slightly and you have access to the 17mm lock nut. Loosen slightly and unscrew the shiftknob and rod. Assembly is the reverse.
It might be easier to disconnect the shift rod to the tranny at the bellcrank and completely remove the shiftgate assembly from the car. Only a few extra seconds to do. Under the car, follow the shift rod from the tranny to the bellcrank, undo one clip and slip the rod from the bellcrank. Now the whole unit will come out of the car after removing the four bolts. A great time to replace the hard to reach shift rod bushing too.
Hope this helps
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72
'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis
2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI...at least its a diesel
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