This is especially true when you purchase a modified car like the 2001 Firehawk Melvin Benzaquen recently acquired. There was really no telling what treasures we would find until we put it up on the rack and started pulling it apart. The one thing we did know for sure was that the clutch was most likely nearing the end of its natural life. Between its difficulties engaging and slipping out of gear, replacing the worn disc was a foregone conclusion. Testdriving the Firehawk also revealed that it still had the stock Hurst shifter that was also quite worn and difficult to get in gear (preventing swift gear changes). I couldn't in good conscience watch this exquisite hot rod sit on the sidelines when it could be getting the track abuse it was meant for.
Thankfully, Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT) and Summit Racing were happy to step up and resolve our T56 gearbox's woes. ACT's new Street Clutch Kit (PN GM9-HDSS) would give the Firehawk the bite it needed for some aggressive launches and powershifting. Its combination of a Heavy Duty Pressure Plate, with hardened diaphragm fingers for decreased wear and a 52 percent increase in clamp load over stock, and a Performance Organic Disc, with a specially formulated friction material to withstand abuse while still providing smooth engagement and consistent pedal feel, enable an outstanding 725 lb-ft of torque capacity. Single organic discs usually have the best pedal feel, aside from dual organic discs, yet rarely (if ever) have this type of holding capacity. So this piece is just begging for abuse-I mean "thorough scientific evaluation."
During "testing" we will be glad that we also called Summit Racing for the Hurst/Billet Plus Shifter (PN HUU-3915061). This piece is not to be confused with the optional Hurst shifter that came in F-bodies; it sports a shorter throw, anodized base, polymide pivot cup to reduce vibration, and a heat-treated billet steel gear. Shifter feel can be very subjective, but the Billet Plus is widely considered to be the middle of the three major shifter options and we felt it time to give it a try ourselves. Plus, I figured Melvin could appreciate the nostalgia of having a Hurst shifter. Follow along as TT Performance in Little Falls, New Jersey installs both products as we prepare for lift-off.