I replaced the stock shifter in the Beetle a few years ago and I’ve been very happy with this EMPI Trigger Shifter. It’s smooth and tight. I did paint the shifter knob to match the exterior of the Beetle, but I always hated that cheap looking plastic base. I’d had plans for a long time to change the knob with a beer tap handle and to add some kind of shifter boot. A few weeks ago, I finally found the beer tap handle that I’d been looking for. There are some really nice and decorative tap handles available, but since Michelob ULTRA is currently my choice of beer (gotta watch those carbs), I decided to go with it! Oddly enough, the brass fitting on the tap handle was the exact same size as the shifter rod, but the threads were different. Since brass is so soft, I just re-tapped it with the correct thread pattern and it fit like a charm. But this being a trigger shifter, the gap needed between the brass fitting on the tap handle and trigger was unsightly. I needed something that would fit over the trigger “tube” but still allow it to be slid upwards. I guess if I had a lathe, I could turn a piece of brass that would work, but I don’t have a lathe or the expertise run one, but I did have some pvc pipe laying around with the correct inside diameter for the trigger tube. I just needed to flare one end to fit over the brass fitting on the tap handle. Nothing a little heat from the heat gun couldn’t handle. I just heated the pvc and slid it over top of the brass fitting. Once I was satisfied and tested it, I gave it a couple coats of brass paint and it looked like it’d been there forever.
Finding a “made” boot for the EMPI shifter was impossible. I searched the web for hours looking for one, but they just don’t exist. There are some pre-made boots that could possibly be modified to work, but I took the cheap route, paid Hobby Lobby a visit and bought half a yard of vinyl (leatherette) material and some contact cement. The template was a total guess and I just winged it. Once the template was cut and sewn together, I secured it to the plastic cover with contact cement. I think the boot looks much better than the plastic trim, but I’m not 100% satisfied with it. I can do a better job. This was more of a “proof of concept” run. But for now, it’ll do. I’m very happy with the end result.