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Pelican Technical Article:
Gear Shift Knob Replacement and Upgrade

Time: 2 hours
Tab: $50-$200
Bench grinder
Applicable Models:
986 Boxster (1997-04)
987 Boxster (2005-08)
Parts Required:
Shift knob, boot, finishing ring
Hot Tip:
Be careful not to smack yourself in the face removing the old knob
Performance Gain:
Cooler shifts
Complementary Modification:
Install short shift kit

  This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster.  The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads.   With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Check out some other sample projects from the book: 

Need to buy parts for this project? Click here to order!
     One of the most popular and easiest upgrades for your car is the addition of an aftermarket shift knob. Let's face it, the steering wheel, gauges, and shift knob are the three main items on the car that you have a personal interaction with. Why not spruce them up a bit: I personally find the Boxster OEM shift knob in particular to be quite boring. The shift knob I chose for this article was the MOMO Shadow carbon fiber, available for about $90 from I also used a black MOMO Endurance shift boot, and the Endurance finishing knob that attaches to the bottom of the shifter. Installation takes about 2 hours, as you need to remove the shifter from the car (unless you have the short shift kit installed). Some slight modifications are needed to the shifter handle to make the aftermarket knobs fit, but this is relatively easy to do.

     Begin by removing the existing shift knob off of your shifter (see Project 42 for instructions). If you have the factory short shift kit installed, then all you need to do is unbolt the shifter handle from the inside of the shifter (see the inset of Figure 3). If you have the standard shifter in your car, then you will have to remove it (see instructions in Pelican Technical Article: Installing a Short Shift Kit and Replacing Shift Bushings). With the shifter removed, lightly grind down the edges of the shift handle, as detailed in Figure 1. You only need to remove a very small amount of material. Measure and test fit the knob to make sure it fits on the shaft, and then install the shifter and console back into the car. You also might be able to use sandpaper and/or files to modify the shifter while it's still installed in the car, but that seems like it would be a lot of work and would create a bit of a mess in your interior.

     Attach the boot to the retaining frame as detailed in Figure 2. Install the boot, place the finishing ring on the shaft, and then install and tighten the knob using the three set screws at the bottom of the knob. Finally, screw on the finishing ring, and then attach the top of the boot to the finishing ring by stretching the top of the boot over the bottom of the ring. The final result is very professional looking, and looks better than stock!
The factory shaft is just a little too wide to accommodate most of the aftermarket shift knobs.
Figure 1
The factory shaft is just a little too wide to accommodate most of the aftermarket shift knobs. Using a common bench grinder, simply grind a bit of the handle down on each side until the width is about 13.75 mm. Bevel the edges of the handle so that it will easily fit inside of the shift knob, and test fit the knob on the end of the handle (short shift kit shown in the inset photo). Wear gloves while grinding the handle down: it will easily become hot to the touch.
Large Image | Extra-Large Image
A- Remove the shift boot retaining frame from the existing shifter.
Figure 2
A- Remove the shift boot retaining frame from the existing shifter. B- If you don't want to destroy your existing shifter, then you can simply order the retaining frame, PN: 996-552-655-01 (cost about $8). C- Wrap the new boot around the frame and test fit it in on top of your shifter. Move the shifter into all of the gear positions 1-2-3-4-5-R and make sure you have enough slack in the boot. D- Poke holes in the boot for the tabs on the back of the retaining frame. E- Carefully cut the excess material on the boot using a pair of scissors. F- Finally, using some 3M or Permatex Super Weatherstrip adhesive, glue the edges of the leather to the retaining frame.
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Here's the finished product.
Figure 3
Here's the finished product. The shift boot finisher shown in the photo is chrome, but it's also available in black and silver as well. The final installation looks very professional: as good or better than stock! The inset photo shows a short-cut that you can use if you have the short shift kit installed. Simply unbolt the center shifter from the metal housing and remove it so that you can easily modify it on your workbench.
Large Image | Extra-Large Image
See Bonus Photos
Bonus Photos
Looking for more photos? Click to see bonus pictures for this project.
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Comments and Suggestions:
benstaples Comments: For those press fit knobs that absolutely will not pull off. I had to find another way to get it off. I removed the plaque on toppopped it off. I then took a box cutter and cut the leather boot cover at backside until it came off. Then took a box cutter and sliced from top to bottom the shifter until it peeled off. Cuts easy. Very quick.
February 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
August 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad he could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Random Person Comments: BTW - the 986 shifter knob doesn't come off as your book and website depict - I found the answer from other threads. On my 1999 986 medium build - some frills, mostly basics you must turn the entire knob 90 degrees not the base, it attaches at the top - where did that come from?, place the trans in 2nd gear so that it is in the straightest possible line with your arm muscles while sitting in the driver's seat and pull like heck - slowly.

The end of the shaft is clearly sharply barbed on the 2 flat sides. The other sides are smooth - thus the 90 degree turn frees the rubber center knob from the barbed shaft - very simple if you know what you're dealing with. Again, you might take a look at your materials. First there is a knob on a shaft in the normal position, only with the boot raised, then it's not there. Lots of photos - but how did it come off?
September 18, 2012

Check out some other sample projects from the book: 


Got more questions?  Join us in our Boxster / Cayman Technical Forum Message Board or our Carrera 996 / 997 Technical Forum Message Board and ask a question to one of our many automotive experts.

Or, see what other questions readers have asked about this article...
  Applies to: 1997 Boxster, 1998 Boxster, 1999 Boxster, 2000 Boxster, 2001 Boxster, 2002 Boxster, 2003 Boxster, 2004 Boxster, 2005 Boxster, 2006 Boxster, 2007 Boxster, 2008 Boxster, 1999 Carrera, 1999 996, 2000 Carrera, 2000 996, 2001 Carrera, 2001 996, 2002 Carrera, 2002 996, 2003 Carrera, 2003 996, 2004 Carrera, 2004 996, 2005 Carrera, 2005 997, 2006 Carrera, 2006 997, 2007 Carrera, 2007 996, 2008 Carrera, 2008 997
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