I decided upgrade my shifter, shift boot and shift knob. For the shifter I decided to go with a B&M 45044 precision sport shifter. The shift boot & knob are OEM two tone cobalt red & ebony.
First things first. If you decide to swap out your stock shifter here are the tools you’ll need: 3/8 & 7/16 hex head socket bits & T-25 torx bit. You’ll also need drivers for the hex and Torx bits as well as a pair of pliers. Optional but also recommend: some high density flame retardant foam and pair of scissors.
Shift knobs come and go. The stock shift knob has a great feel, but I felt like the throw was too long and didn’t particularly care for the color on the gear pictograph. I swapped to a ball knob last year -which has the effect of lowering the shift knob thus reducing the throw- and I liked that okay, but when I saw the red & black boot and shift knob I knew it was time to swap again. One one little issue: the new knob was for a 2008+ Vette and I have a 2007.
I have actually had a B&M short shifter for a year or so, I just never bothered to put it in since it wasn’t compatible with my ball knob. I had originally considered the B&M shifter and a Hurst shifter, but chose the B&M model because it seemed to have a better design (more closely resembling the stock Z06 shifter).
In any event, I was determined to get the OEM 2008 red & black knob onto my B&M shifter… B&M makes a 2008+ shifter model but no one was able to tell me if the shifter itself was compatible with my 2007 Vette (the transmission was changed on the 2008 Vette so it’s possible the shifters would be incompatible). I did the only thing I could think of- I bought the 2008 B&M shifter and swapped the shafts. Now I have a B&M shifter that I know will fit a 2007 Corvette and will take a 2008 shift knob (visually there did appear to be a slight difference between the two shifters).
Swapping out the shift boot is cake. It’s easiest if you remove the Corvette center console (which you have to do anyway to swap shifters). The leather boot is attached to a plastic ring with tabs. From underneath you just pop out the tabs from the console. Then pop in your new shift boot. Oh two tone shift boot, how did I live without you?
Swapping out shifters is also pretty painless. Once the console if off it should only take about 10 minutes. Just pull off the yellow rubber cover and unscrew the four bolts (3/8) and move aside the black rubber seal (your car isn’t going to have the wires coming out from the transmission- these are for my wideband). Next remove the 4 screws that hold down the stock shifter (3/8).
The stock shifter just pulls right out (put the car in neutral while you make the swap). You need to take the black plastic cap off the stock shifter (pliers) and then pop it on the B&M. Next bolt down (7/16) the B&M where the old shifter was (I left the stock gasket) and put your black seal back on. There are a number of other steps you might need to take if you’re working with a C5 Vette but they are documented in the instructions. Shift through your gears to make sure things are working okay. Since the B&M doesn’t seal quite as well as the stock shifter I used foam to make a sound dampener.
Make sure everything is nice and tight, shifts well and is put back together correctly. Then you can reassemble your console and admire your work [One side note that I didn’t document with any pics- the shifter screw included with the B&M kit is a T-25 and the head was so large I had to grind it down a ton get it to fit over the boot collar]. Personally I love how the new shift boot & knob match the seats and door handle wraps.
B&M 45044 precision sport shifter (Corvette) Review
Now that I’ve used the shifter for a few days I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. The shifts with the B&M are short and crisp. The shifter centers tightly making it much easier to get into third gear, as well. It takes a little more effort to move through the gears but the shorter throw makes up for this hands down. In fact, there’s almost something appealing about the extra force that’s required (especially when using an OEM shift knob). There’s no extra noise from the B&M and vibrations are about on par with my old stock shifter (in other words, very minimal). The stock Z06 shifter is very easy to move, but it always felt spongy and it was too easy to miss-shift. The B&M has and does everything I felt was missing and really makes the car more fun to drive. I would recommend the 45044 to anyone who’s considering it.
Posted by Cam, September 24, 2011