Okay, the attempted fix didn't really work; the shift quadrant kind of glows dimly, but I don't think it'* really any better than what I started with.
Once I got the console cover out of the way, I could see the problem as described, where the plastic "wick" that'* supposed to curve down to line up with the opening over the bulb housing actually misses it by 1/8"-3/16" or so.
The quadrant is mounted on top of the shifter assembly with two screws, front and back, spring-loaded at both ends so that it presses upward against the underside of the console opening. Its retainer screws install upwards from underneath. The bulb housing is held on to the underside of the forward mounting by the forward retainer screw, and moves up and down with the lens assembly that it'* supposed to illuminate.
Okay, this gets kind of complicated below, and isn't important to understand anyway, but for the record, here'* what I think happened.
I think the design screwup is that somebody measured the design height of the bulb housing from the bottom surface of its mounting flange instead of the top surface. Since it attaches to the underside of the forward screw mounting, not the top of something below it, its design height is reduced by the thickness of its mounting flange -- at least, the gap where it misses the wick up top looks to be about the same distance as the thickness of its mounting flange at the bottom, so there you are. If the mounting flange was even thicker, the bulb would be even further down than where it'* supposed to be, etc.
(For the record, I also didn't see an "X" molded on the socket or the housing anywhere, in case that was supposed to indicate either the original design or the revised one; I forget which.)
First, I removed the bulb from the housing, and then used a pencil-point soldering iron to melt a slightly-larger hole in the housing right below the wick, thinking that maybe I just needed to get more light hitting the wick. This didn't seem to make much difference at all.
So I said, "Self, all we need to do here is to fill in the gap with something clear that will carry the light up to the wick above it." (This is where things started to get seriously goofy.) So then I figured, I'll just find a piece of glass big enough to jam into the gap between the bulb housing and the underside of the plastic wick, and that'll carry the light upward to the wick. After some rummaging around in the recycling bin, I found an empty glass bottle of Newman'* Own Salad Dressing (Creamy Italian, for those of you taking notes) with relatively flat sides and a thick bottom. I washed it clean inside and out, wrapped it in several layers of newspaper, and dropped a sledgehammer on it.
SPOILER ALERT: Do NOT do this! This was a BAD idea! Keep reading!
After carefully unwrapping the newspaper just enough to see inside, I poked around in the debris and found a nice chunk of flat, clear glass from the base of the bottle which was just the right thickness to wedge in between the top of the lamp housing and the underside of the wick. (Another warning: The cheap glass bottle breaks into millions of teeny tiny shards, not just big pieces. Don't handle anything like this without gloves and/or making darn sure that stuff doesn't fall out of the newspaper. Wrap up the newspaper again as soon as you've got the piece you want.)
So I put it all back together, parked the car and went in to read other BC stuff until it was dark out.
Unfortunately after all that, it'* really no better than when I started. So when I have more time, this is what I'm going to do:
I'm going to take the console apart far enough to actually remove the whole shift quadrant assembly, and shorten the forward mounting tube (the part that goes through the forward spring, with the screw in the bottom that holds the bulb housing). If I trim it by 1/8", this will lift up the bulb housing in relation to the wick that it'* trying to illuminate. From eyeballing the console cover as I lower it down, I can see that the springs compress more than 1/8" when the cover is installed, so I can get away with it. I'll add 1/8" worth of washer(*) under the head of the mounting screw so that it doesn't bottom out in the shortened mounting tube.
Yeah, yeah, this is probably engineering overkill, but sometimes it'* fun to improvise a solution.