The following post comes to us courtesy of Mugen aficionado Jerimiah Styles! Many thanks to him for another contribution of his time and insight!
In this post Jerimiah covers some of the differences he's observed with the Mugen "Formula" Shift Knob:
This is the way the shift knob is described in our King Motorsports / Mugen 1999 Mugen Pricelist for Integra:
"Formula Quality" is the essence of Mugen's approach to production, since we also manufacture components for formula engines. This machined shift knob exemplifies our high manufacturing precision. Each product is machined individually from aluminum, and then given an alumite hard-coat finish before the Mugen logo is imprinted by laser. This is a sports-type shift knob for the discerning eye. Available in five colors: blue, black, gold, silver, and red. Supplied with a shift pattern plate. For five-speed manual transmission only.
The Mugen formula shift knob (discontinued) is a commonly replicated item that comes up often on Mugen part searches. While this knob was made in five colors by Mugen, I am going to stick to the black knob for this blog.
Comparing the window box package, they are basically identical from the front. One important thing to look for is the inclusion of the round shift guide badge. Fakes will not include this badge.
The back of the packaging shows more tell tale signs. While the top left corners appear identical, the bottoms are different. The Mugen package has a sticker with printed description and the fake does not. The fake is also missing the Mugen part number.
Comparing the knobs themselves, the first thing to look for is the shape at the top. The Mugen is smooth and rounded. The fake is usually flat and often shows rings from poor machine work. The hard-anodizing of the genuine Mugen part is stunning and shows a depth that the painted surface on the fake can not compare to. A closer look at the Mugen logo/kanji shows that the fake uses a thinner font for the MUGEN logotype.
The genuine shift knob's logo/kanji come in both a raw-metal engraved version ("gen 1") and in white ("gen 2"). Below is an image of two genuine shift knobs. You can see the silver knob has a raw-metal logo/kanji.
In the image below you can see how the genuine knob is domed/rounded on top, while the fake has a flat spot. Flat spot = fake.
One more thing to look for is the vertical placement of the Mugen logo/kanji. On the genuine knob, it sits higher than half way on that section of the knob. On the fake, the logo/kanji is vertically centered within that section.
Here are instructions that are included with the genuine shift knob. Fakes do not include instructions:
Why does it matter?
Because of the slipshod manufacturing on the fakes, they are known to actually cut driver's fingers. Needless to say that's a nasty surprise. The authentic knob is far better quality that will pass the test of time and add a touch of class to any enthusiast's build. While the hard-anodized finish on the genuine knobs can unfortunately fade over time, it is another way to determine authenticity when buying a used part. The painted finish on the fake knob very easily scars, resulting in an unsightly eyesore in your interior.
Minor update: As you might expect, even fakes have their exceptions. Vivian R. shared this fake knob and package that even includes knock off shift badge and instructions!
Visit the King Motorsports store for genuine Mugen shift knobs!