My Honda Civic Feels Much Cooler With This Retro Shift Boot

My Honda Civic Feels Much Cooler With This Retro Shift Boot

Honda Civics might be the most commonly modified cars in America—there’s not much you can do with one that hasn’t been done before. But I’ve never heard of anybody backdating an eighth-gen by running an accordion-style shift boot. While small and simple, this little project put a nice twist on the cockpit’s look. And it was really fun to do.

I care about performance tuning, but my real car-customization passion is in design. Specifically, details—easter eggs, aesthetic themes, tiny pieces of personalization that seamlessly blend into a car yet elevate the vehicle’s distinctiveness. This shift boot retrofit job I did here is very much in that vein of modding.

Flip through our whole catalog of project car adventures here.


Most manual-transmission cars have what is basically a little leather napkin between the shift knob and center console covering the linkage—this is known as a shift boot. However, in the ’80s and early ’90s, it was common for shift boots to be rubber with hard edges and a defined shape, looking like pyramids.

This is what I’m talking about—my Nissan Z31 300ZX has the classic accordion-style shift boot. Andrew P. Collins

These accordion-style boots largely fell out of fashion when car interior design evolved to be less geometric, and I don’t think we’ve seen one as a factory feature on a car for almost 20 years.

To give my FG2 (eighth-gen two-door) Civic a more retro vibe, and for the sake of being different, I wanted to see if I could replace the napkin-style boot with an accordion one. While conceptually easy, it was actually pretty tough to find just the right boot and then work out how to mount it.


Funny enough, it took me a lot of research to realize the Civic Si that came out right before mine (the EP3-chassis hatchback from the mid-’00s) actually had the part I was looking for.

My first searches for an accordion boot came up with a few results for muscle cars (those were too big), semi-trucks (way too big), and some old Nissans and Mitsubishis. Quite a few old SUVs used accordion-style boots on their 4WD and transfer case gear selector, too. I also learned that these boots sometimes can be found on tractors and other agricultural machines. I even thought about trying a boot made for an axle or steering rack, but nothing I found quite made sense dimensionally. If you’re inspired by this project and want to try something similar on another car, try some of the things I just mentioned as search terms to get your research started.

I guess if money is no object you could get one custom-molded, but I can’t imagine that’d be worth the effort for anyone. Speaking of expensive though, at least one semi-recent Singer Porsche has an accordion-style shift boot. So clearly I’m not the only person who’s still into them. I wonder where that one came from … would they admit it if they lifted it from some old tractor?

I feel validated in my love of accordion shift boots knowing Singer has used at least one, as seen here in a recent factory tour from Top Gear. Top Gear/YouTube screenshot

At any rate, most of the accordion boots I was finding were square-shaped at the bottom, and my Civic’s plastic shifter bezel (the little piece that frames the boot) has a circular hole. I considered trying to make my own bezel or doing away with it entirely, but before I could figure out how to do that I found the obvious answer for the boot I needed I should have thought of from the beginning: The stock shift boot from the EP3 Civic that I mentioned earlier!

The EP3 Civic isn’t remembered as one of the better-performing Hondas, but I really like the look of it. Image made from Honda press photo and parts catalog

It’s accordion-style, it’s round at the bottom, and it’s a factory Honda part. Heck, it’s even a factory Civic Si part—good odds for compatibility in both dimensions and vibes. Later I learned that the manual-shift Honda Element used something very similar, which probably would have worked too.

Unfortunately for me in this particular situation, the EP3 and Element have atypical shifter placement. Instead of coming straight out of the center console like most cars, they protrude from the dashboard at an unusual angle. This was the only thing that made me skeptical about fitment. “But it’s rubber,” I said to Bramble the dog, who was sleeping under my desk while I surfed eBay. “Surely it’ll just bend to the orientation I need.”


I got one, Honda part number 77275-S6A-G04ZB, from some dude in Miami who thankfully included the little plastic retaining frame that goes on the bottom—I couldn’t find this plastic piece listed Honda’s parts catalog, but it became essential to the project so I’m glad I had one. The eBay seller also sent me the chrome outer trim piece (part 77298-S5T-G01ZB) which would have gone on top of the boot on the EP3’s dashboard, but I didn’t end up using it.

I could tell right away it’d be possible to pop this in—the sizing was so close! Andrew P. Collins

Once I had the boot, I fiddled with a few different methods of test-fitting while Bramble climbed into the back of the car and slept. Straight away I could see that the sizing was pretty much perfect—I was stoked! The boot was clearly designed to rest at the EP3’s odd shifter angle, but as I played with it I was confident it wouldn’t mind being bent a little.

With the size and shape confirmed as viable, I began to realize the most challenging aspect of this project would be getting it to attach to my car’s console without popping out when I changed gears.

The EP3 housing didn’t quite work. Andrew P. Collins

After removing my Skunk2 shift knob, cutting a cable tie that held the standard leather boot at the bottom of the shift knob, and pulling up the stock shift boot, I realized that the leather was stapled to a plastic retention frame which was then screwed into the console bezel with four Torx screws. With the screws out, the plastic bezel (plastic thing that visually frames the shift boot, has the big circular hole) came free from the stock boot and its plastic frame.

I pulled the staples and compared the FG2 boot frame with the EP3 one. The sizes were similar, but the shapes … not so much. Namely, the EP3 unit only had three screw holes for attaching to the bezel. Hmm.

First I thought I’d use the plastic under-frame from my car’s normal shift boot, knowing the shifter doesn’t run into that. But I couldn’t make it work — the rubber boot just wouldn’t fit nicely over the plastic piece made to go with the leather one.

Next, I tried the EP3 boot with the EP3 frame and my car’s stock bezel, but that didn’t quite work either. The shifter itself was bumping into it and that was completely unacceptable. Eighth-gen Civic transmissions are fragile enough as it is, no way could I be missing gears because of some stupid little rubber doohickey.

Then, I decided to adapt the EP3 boot frame by cutting it and trimming it. This version fit together nicely and looked great sitting static, but as soon as I shifted, the whole console came apart. I needed to figure out how to attach the new boot and modified new frame to the car’s existing shifter bezel without disrupting the little clips that hold it to the console.

Intermission—Bramble break. Yep, this is where she goes whenever I’m working on the car interior. Andrew P. Collins

I rummaged around my magical miscellaneous hardware bin and struck pay dirt, finding some metal strips with holes in them that were firm but malleable in my vice. I cut them down and turned them into short little fingers; I bent them to clutch the shift boot and frame to the console bezel, and then screwed them into the bezel itself using the screws and threaded holes that had previously held the stock shift boot.

I’m embarrassed to say I lost my pictures of this critical step and it’s way too cold out to take the console apart again right now. But what you need to know if you’re doing something similar: Have some sort of way for your shift boot to firmly attach to a frame that firmly attaches to the console bezel. Or, if your bezel is shaped in such a way that allows for it, affix it directly to the bezel. You need something stronger than just gravity, though.

Very close, but needs a lot of cleaning up. Andrew P. Collins

A test ride confirmed about 97{49e09b23eae7466ccc7574c19ebb3019301c9a11d2999feff81a3526451546a5} of perfection on fitment. With the EP3 boot and modified EP3 boot frame in place, the FG2 bezel doesn’t lock in as perfectly flat as it did with the stock boot—it’s like it doesn’t quite make it over the plastic lip it sits on. But it doesn’t move, it doesn’t interrupt shifter action, and best of all the minor misalignment is not visible from the driver’s seat.

Finishing Touches

Before screwing my shift knob back down and calling this job done, there was one more finishing touch required—a shift boot collar. That’s exactly what it sounds like: A little retention piece that holds the top of the boot neatly in place and mates up to the shift knob.

The EP3 boot I got on eBay didn’t come with the factory one, and I wasn’t crazy about the stock unit’s look anyway (it’s chrome, as I’d seen in pictures) so I pawed through the plentiful aftermarket options. Accordion shift boots might be rare, but custom boots and knobs are quite common so I had plenty of custom boot collars online to pick from.

I settled on this unit from a company called Acuity that specializes in Honda tuning products because I really liked the satin red finish. Once it arrived I was blown away—the packaging was gorgeous, and the company even had a super-clear installation video I watched (not that I needed to; the only thing easier to install than this would be a floor mat).

To install it, you screw on a little metal piece to the threaded shifter, set it at the height you want your shift knob (this helps you orient your knob correctly if it has gear position graphics on it like mine) then the collar through the small opening at the top of the boot, the boot attaches to the collar with a simple super-thin cable tie that Acuity included in its package and the collar snaps onto the small metal piece with a satisfying click.

I mean come on, how slick is that? I upgraded (removed) my seat covers too, and you’ll also be hearing about those amazing CocoMats floor mats soon. Andrew P. Collins

With my Skunk2 knob screwed back on, we can call this iteration of this project complete.

Project Pieces

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  • Research parts, dimensions, potential compatibilities
  • Dismantle stock shift boot and retention
  • Test-fit custom boot, identify weak points
  • Fabricate custom boot retention
  • Re-install and let it ride



  • Husky folding Torx radial tool ($13.99 on Amazon)
  • Chicago Electric rotary tool ($24.99 on Harbor Freight; it’s a knock-off Dremel)
  • Tin snips aka metal-cutting scissors ($14.05 on Amazon for a nice-looking Irwin unit)
  • Cable ties aka ZipTies ($11.86 on Amazon for a nice set of low-profile ones, which you’ll want for snugging a shift boot up to a boot collar)
  • Hack saw blade (suboptimal for plastic, but we got it done)


  • No helpers needed, just Bramble the dog doing supervisor duty

Next Moves

I know that was a lot of words about a minor mod, but I hope you appreciated the combination of art, science, and shadetree engineering in this little project. There are bigger Civic write-ups coming including suspension and engine computer tuning.

Directly related to this project you just read about, I’ll share some more ways the car’s being cosmetically backdated and more impressions on some new Acuity products including the company’s brand new eighth-gen Civic short-throw shifter and shifter cable bushings.