The stock shifter on the C5 Corvette is pretty good. It's has a pretty short throw and it feels comfortable and tight. With that in mind, it's obvious that there is plenty of room for improvement. The stock shifter does not have a strong positive centering mechanism. It's throw is longer than it needs to be and the rubber insulator robs crispness and reduces your chances of hitting the right gate under pressure. For a while, there was nothing you could do to improve this situation. A few months ago, B&M announced their Ripper shifter for the C5 T56 and I put one on order right away.
My Ripper came from C5 Concepts. I participated in one of their group purchases and everything worked great. B&M includes some photocopied instructions with the shifter and Chris at C5 Concepts has published additional instructions on the Internet. I found both documents helpful. At the same time, both documents omitted information that can save you time and hassle. The whole processes is pretty straightforward and shouldn't take more than an hour.
To get started, get plenty of light (taking off the targa top helped a bunch) and put the parking brake on. Clean everything out of your center console and remove the ashtray. You'll need a Torx 15 screwdriver, a strong pair of needle nose pliers or Vise Grips, a flatblade screwdriver and a socket wrench with a 10mm socket. First pop off the bolt covers at the rear of the center console storage area. Inside you'll find two 10mm nuts that need to be removed. Next pop off the piece of console that has the Traction Control switch (and the adjustable suspension control if so equipped) and disconnect all the electrical connectors. Remove the two 10mm nuts and pull the console to the rear for removal. Before you pull it off completely, disconnect the 12v power and fuel door release electrical connectors. Next, open the ashtray door and remove the two Torx 15 screws inside. Then carefully pop off the interior temperature sensor cover to the left of the ignition.
Now the hard part. Chevrolet must have had some reason to make the shift knob so hard to remove but I have no idea what it is. First pop off the shift pattern with a flatbed screwdriver. Next you'll need to remove the T shaped pin which holds the shift knob in place. It's really wedged in and it'll take some effort to get it out. I grabbed it with a pair of strong pliers and then pried up with the flatbed screwdriver. I was worried about damaging the leather on the shift knob but all my efforts produced no ill effects. Once you remove the pin, just unscrew the shift knob and put it aside. Put the transmission into fourth gear and then remove the center console trim. It should pop off pretty easily. Be sure to remove the electrical connection for the cigarette lighter before you pull too hard.
The next step is to remove the rubber boot surrounding the shifter. This is done by taking off the four 10mm nuts that hold it to the center tunnel. Next remove the four 10mm nuts which hold the shifter assembly to the center tunnel. The stock shifter should come off easily. Be sure to remove any gasket materiel that might get left behind. Remove the black plastic connector from the end of the stock shifter and install it on the end of the Ripper. Install the Ripper using the supplied clear plastic gasket. Be sure to install the Ripper with the cutout (in the shaft) facing towards the rear of the car. If you don't, the knob can't be secured and you'll have to do all of this over again. Bolt the Ripper in using the stock 10mm nuts and tighten. Now you need to adjust the shift stops. Put the transmission in second gear and adjust the forward stop until it touches the shifter shaft. Now back the stop off until you can fit a postcard in between it and the shifter shaft. Tighten the locking nut and double check the setting. Next, put the transmission on fourth gear and repeat this process for the rear stop. Once this is done, cycle through all the gears and make sure everything engages correctly.
Now it's time to put the whole thing back together. Install the supplied rubber boot on the Ripper base and
secure with the supplied pressure clamp. Reinstall the stock rubber boot using the stock 10mm nuts. I turned the
boot inside out to make a better fit. The cover will ride up a bit since the Ripper has a higher base than the
stock shifter. Now reinstall the front part of the console. Don't forget to hook the cigarette lighter
electrical connection back up. Once you have everything lined up, reinstall the three Torx 15 screws and pop
the interior temperature sensor cover back in place. Now reinstall the rear portion of the console. Be sure
to reconnect the 12v power outlet and fuel door release. Reinstall all the 10mm nuts and make sure everything
lines up right. Plug the traction control (and adjustable suspension control is so equipped) electrical
connections back in and pop the console piece into place. Reinstall the plugs at the back of the console and put
your ashtray back in place. The last step is to thread the stock shifter knob back in place. Once it's nice and
tight, line the hole up with the cutout in the shifter shaft. You'll need a hammer to pound the pin back into
place. Pop the shift pattern back in place and it all done!
You'll find that the Ripper takes a lot more effort than the stock shifter. It's worth it. Take it for a spin
and see how fast you can shift with the reduced travel and powerful centering mechanism. Your next trip to the
drag strip will be a pleasant surprise. The only downside is increased noise. It's loudest under heavy
acceleration so I don't think it'll detract from everyday driving and long cruises.
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