By all accounts the C6 is the best of the breed. The motoring press hasheaped accolade after accolade on the car, praising its "awesome power,""superb handling," and "excellent creature comforts." Yet for all thatis good, there is one area that has caused many a C6 owner to grouse:the manner in which the six-speed manual transmission goes through itsgears.
For openers, most every Vette owner takes issue with its 1-4 "skipshift" feature. There's nothing more annoying to a reasonably proficientdriver who's endeavoring to nurse his or her car away from a stoplightthan to have it unceremoniously dumped into Fourth at the gear change,causing an obnoxious bog.
Secondly, the shifting mechanism itself leaves a lot to be desired.While it gets through the gears OK, there are hints ofuncertainty--particularly on downshifts--that more demanding driversfind unacceptable. Did it wallow from Fifth to Fourth or to Second?
Fortunately, there are ready cures for these two minor annoyances thatwill make the C6 a pure joy to drive in all situations. The forced 1-4shift is easily overcome by installing a Skip Shift Eliminator from SLPPerformance Parts (PN 21008). A true "plug 'n' play" product, nothingmore is required of the installation than to elevate the rear end of thecar, crawl underneath it, and plug the unit into its appropriate placebetween the tranny and loom.
When it came to selecting a shifter, the nod went to B&M. The companyhas expanded its product line greatly in its 50-plus years and now ranksas one of the world's leading manufacturers of shifters. In fact B&Mmakes shifters on an OEM basis for some pretty discerning marques,including Porsche. Having already earned a reputation for its C5shifter, the company recently expanded the model-year coverage of thispopular kit (PN 45044) to include C6 applications. When you compare theB&M unit with the OEM Corvette shifter, the differences are apparent.CNC-machined billet pieces stand in sharp contrast to factory stampings.
The installation isn't quite as simple as plugging in a Skip ShiftEliminator, but the whole operation should take a competentdo-it-yourselfer no more than two hours, using commonly availablehandtools.
To its credit, B&M has done a nice job chronicling the installation bymeans of a fully illustrated 16-page instruction manual. As for tools,you'll need Phillips and flat-blade screwdrivers; channel locks; ratchetwrenches with extensions and 7mm, 10mm, 11/32-, and 7/16-inch sockets;T15, T20, and T40 bits and a driver; a punch; and a small hammer/mallet.A floor jack and a pair of jackstands are needed for the Skip Shiftinstallation. And you'll find that a small flashlight will come inhandy.
So, is the time and effort you'll spend on installing the B&M PrecisionSport Shift and SLP Skip Shift worth it? You bet! The first thing you'llnotice is that that shift throw is about one third shorter than stock,which will obviously contribute to faster shifts. But the real benefitto switching to the B&M shifter is its precise operation. It's apleasure to work your way through the gears, whether it's just puttingdown the street (with that damned forced 1-4 shift a thing of the past),accelerating briskly, or winding through a canyon road. Life is good.