If you can make it into a bolt-on, it would make it easier to fine tune it and possibly, you won't be forced into cutting your plastic floor bezel.
There's two different shift handles I've seen on those 97 and older manual tcases. One is a solid rod. the other is a screw on rod....the ball and upper half actually screws off the bottom part of the linkage. Depending on what kind you've got, will determind how easy the exention would be.
'01 XLT disguised as a '03 Fx4 Level II.