Okay, you already have a good-sounding, free-flowing exhaust and a much-better-than-stock, free-breathing induction setup on that six-speed C5. The OEM tires and wheels have been upsized and upgraded to something more performance oriented, something more attuned to a C5's capabilities than a set of run-flats. That Fifth-Gen is becoming a little more yours, less The General's, and slightly more of a ultra-performance sports car rather than a highly competent grand touring car. But there's still the matter of the factory-installed shifter. It's not that the stock shifter is bad-it just isn't as taut, as business like as the rest of the car is becoming. You want to shift rather than vaguely rowing the lever around. There are several aftermarket, short throw shifters available for C5s. To the best of our knowledge, all of them are good quality and all will offer improvements over the factory-installed unit.
One of the oldest, most-revered, and best-known makers of shifters is Hurst. The late George Hurst was engineering and building some of the best shifters in the world way back before many of us were even born. There are still lots of older Corvettes, those with T10s or Muncie four-speeds, that have a flat-sided, chrome shifter handle with "HURST" spelled out on each side and a white knob, with the shift pattern engraving, poking out of the floor. In the '60s and '70s, it seemed as though everyone with a manual gearbox installed a Hurst Competition Plus shifter in their cars.
Corvettes have changed, manual trannies have changed, and Hurst, now a division of Mr. Gasket Co., still makes some kick-ass shifters for Corvettes. For a lot of the 40- and 50-something crowd, a Hurst shifter is still the first choice. And that's the case with one of our local car guy acquaintances, Tony Correia.
Ol' Tony fits right in the middle of the aforementioned age category, his beard has gone gray, as has what hair he still has up top. After a lot of years away from Corvette ownership, he picked up a six-speed '99 convertible last year and almost immediately started making the usual minor changes and upgrades to it. The most recent of those was to buy and install a short throw shifter. He checked out the several different C5 shifters that are on the market and found that most are fairly similar-CNC-machined from billet aluminum, have adjustable stops, and the shift throws are shortened up by around 20 to 25 percent. The prices for the various shifters are close-around $250 on average-and at least a couple or three are available through nearly every Corvette parts outlet that handles C5 parts and accessories. He opted for the Hurst for several reasons-above and beyond sharing similarities with the other aftermarket C5 shifters, it has features like multiple-adjustable bias spring loading for the gate (how much pressure or effort it takes to move side-to-side, like from Second to Third, etc.), and a whopping 35 percent reduction in the shift throw.
Back in the good (?) old days, installing a custom shifter in a Corvette meant jacking it up and resting it on jackstands; undoing the knob and boot from the top side; wriggling underneath to unfasten three (most of the time) rods from the trans case and from the shifter body; then unbolting the shifter itself from the transmission and dropping it out-followed by the same procedure, in reverse, to install a new unit. Swapping shifters on modern gearboxes with internal rail shift controls and the shifter body bolted to the top of the case (or on an extension in C5s, where the gearbox is actually mounted behind the driver and bolted up to the differential housing) is much easier. A shifter change in a C5 does NOT require jacking up the car or crawling beneath it, does NOT require disconnecting then reconnecting-and adjusting-a bunch of linkage rods, and does NOT require a huge array of tools.