Some of you may already know a little-or a lot-about the Specialty Equipment Market Association show. For those who don't know a thing about SEMA, in a nutshell, it's the first of two major automotive-aftermarket trade shows (early December's Performance Racing Industry show in Orlando is the second) that brings thousands of gearheads and product manufacturers together in Las Vegas every November for a week of hard-core, show-and-tell about the latest aftermarket parts and accessories for cars and trucks.
Finding cool parts for '79-'09 'Stangs is our main mission when we're at the SEMA show. The coolest-of-the-cool pieces are scoped out and reported on. Sometimes we take our coverage a step further by installing a product-of-interest in a Mustang and bringing you the details right here. (Editor Turner and Editor-at-Large Tom Wilson represented at SEMA '08. Check out our website's blog section for Steve's highlight blurbs, and keep your eyes peeled for his full rundown on the big show in an upcoming issue.)
We saw the subject of this month's Tech Inspection, TVK Industries' Sure Shifter, at the '07 SEMA show. The shifter, which actually is a shift knob that's officially referred to by TVK as an "illuminated gear-position indicator," was affixed to the five-speed shifter in an S197 Mustang GT on display in the company's booth.
We're testing a prototype...
We're testing a prototype Sure Shifter-equipped, B&M Ripper, short-throw, five-speed shifter on an '03 Mach 1 that B&D Racing had in the shop for a clutch replacement. The device's illumination logic is contained in this sealed ring, which is affixed to the top of the shifter assembly. Sensors inside the ring process the shifter's position (i.e., which gear the transmission is in) and trigger a green-to-red color change for the LED gear indicator.
How does it work? Basically, with Sure Shifter, green LED beacons illuminate and show the transmission's five-speed shift pattern once power (9-to-12 Volts) is introduced to the device or a 'Stang's ignition has been turned on. Six-speed knobs are also available.
However, it's not just the green LEDs that make this knob cool. The thing that caught our attention is the way that the LED (for any selected gear) changes to red once a gear is selected/engaged. This, according to the folks at Sure Shifter, helps alleviate driver confusion while shifting gears-such as those times when you're cruising down the freeway in Third or Fourth gear ... and you really meant to be in Fifth-and especially inside a Mustang's dark cockpit while driving at night.
Simple enough, and effective as well. TVK Industries recently gave your Tech Editor a prototype Sure Shifter-equipped, B&M Ripper, five-speed shifter for '99-'04 Mustangs. TVK has been in the process of working with B&M Racing and Performance by providing technical and manufacturing support for B&M shifters equipped with Sure Shifter knobs.
Since the actual how-to mechanics of a T-45/Tremec 3650 shifter swap are pretty straightforward (remove shift knob, remove shifter-trim bezel/boot, unplug power point, unbolt/remove dust plate and then unbolt/remove shifter handle and shifter assembly, clean/resillicone shifter housing on transmission, install new shifter in reverse of these steps), our photos and captions don't focus much on that area of the swap procedure. Instead, here are a few shots and remarks about the prototype Sure-Shifter'd Ripper, which B&D Racing's Mase Rowland installed on an '03 Mach 1
The Sure Shifter shift knob functions with little power, which makes it a cool accessory for enthusiasts who display their Mustangs in car shows and want to keep the device illuminated while their Pony is on display for several hours. Using a quick-connector setup allows you to tie the device into a 'Stang's 12V power system, or simply connect the shifter's positive (red) and negative (black) wires to a 9V cell (i.e., the little square batteries), which can be tucked below the shifter console and out of sight.
After removing the trim cover...
After removing the trim cover and shifter handle, B&D's Mason "Mase" Rowland unbolts the dust cover to access and remove the Mach 1's shifter and replace it with the prototype.
Once the shifter assembly...
Once the shifter assembly was mounted on the transmission, Mase had to unplug the Sure Shifter's knob-to-sensor-ring wiring connector in order to thread the knob onto the shifter. Failure to do this will cause the wires to twist, bind, and eventually break. This connection is the critical link between the Sure Shifter's brain, a power source, and the LEDs, so it's important to make sure it's solid before calling the deal done. This part of the install needs a little more refinement, as it's also difficult to get the wiring to peacefully coexist with the shifter's handle when trying to set the trim cover/boot in place.
A green LED changes to solid...
A green LED changes to solid red for whichever gear the Sure Shifter senses the transmission has been shifted into and blinks when the tranny is in Reverse.
The finished product is a...
The finished product is a clean, stock-appearing, short-throw B&M Ripper with cool, light-up trickery that requires only a peripheral glance to let drivers know which gear they're cruising in.