Two of the most common complaints about Corvettes of the past few generations are centered around gear selection. Namely, the items at fault are "the crappy shifter" and "that farging skip-shift." While there are likely many among you who would use slightly less colorful descriptors, I suspect most of you would nonetheless agree with my basic assessment. Judging by the popularity of the aftermarket-shifter and CAGS-defeat markets, my suspicion looks well-founded.
Over the years, I've used most of the various C5 and C6 shifters on the market. While they all had their own personalities and idiosyncrasies, all offered shorter throws, often at the cost of smooth engagement. In other words, most felt and functioned pretty much the same. The other attribute shared was their propensity for vibration and rattling under wide-open throttle. Nothing gives a worse impression to a co-worker or "Brand X" fan than a car that sounds like a miniature jackhammer every time you dip into the throttle.
So, I had mixed feelings upon deciding that the stock shifter just wasn't going to make the grade. While it was perfectly quiet, it had the precision of an axe handle jammed into a 5-gallon bucket of nuts and bolts. I knew I wanted rock-solid gear selection, but I was not happy about the noise that was bound to accompany it. One of the few shifters I had not had a chance to try was from Breathless Performance Products.
BPP's Web site touts the machined aluminum shifter as delivering "the ultimate in speed shifting and comfort." According to Breathless proprietor Ernie Francis, the shifter is available with either a straight or angled stick, which makes it applicable to both C5s and C6s. "We designed the offset stick so it can position the shifter either forward or back [by] one or two inches," he explained. "We also include a variety of centering springs so the user can personalize the shifter to his needs."
I like the adjustability built into BPP's design. I admit that I have not played with the optional centering springs, as the default springs have performed perfectly for me. The shifter snaps into gear with a solid, satisfying metallic click. That it makes absolutely no noise under WOT is frosting. Many shifters I've used have required Hulk Hogan-esque triceps to get the stick over and up into reverse. While it does take more effort than the stocker, the BPP does not require you to double-fist it up into R.
At $229, the Breathless shifter is competitively priced, and its performance makes it an outright bargain. In fact, considering the crisp engagement, beefy construction, and total lack of noise and vibration, it may be the best value on the market. It's certainly the best Corvette shifter I've ever used.