I know this is an old post, but I had a rather nasty surprise this afternoon as I prepare for my Elite's first engine start in 15 years.
Got in to check that the clutch, etc. was still working, waggled the gear lever around and noticed that it seemed to have a lot of upward slack. After removing all the usual bits to get access to the gearbox cover to check everything was tight and the locking tab in place, I discovered that I could lift the gear lever from the box. It was quickly replaced and gears can still be selected although the last time I drove the car the gear change was horrendous. It appears that the ball under the collar has disappeared and probably now resides in the bottom of my box.
Anyway, searching for solutions, I came across this thread and wondered if anybody had any updates on the functionality, etc. also does the Escort quick shift gear lever look out of place as the ones I have seen look longer that the Elite stick?