Say you're sitting at a light, and some young kid pulls up in a clapped-out import. Wanting to impress your passenger, you get ready to throw your car in gear and blast off. Then it happens. You hear nothing but grinding. You're still stuck at the light, furiously trying to find First, while the kid is laughing his way down the road. If you own a C5 or C6 Corvette, this scenario may sound frighteningly familiar.
But maybe that example is a little extreme. Maybe you're just tired of the long throw your Vette's original-equipment shifter delivers, and you're looking for something different. Fortunately, the aftermarket is rife with options. One such unit was recently introduced by Fidanza, a company heretofore best known for its high-performance flywheels and clutches. Fidanza's short-throw shifter fits all '97-'09 Corvettes equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.
A stock C5/C6 shifter can have as much play in it as an early Corvette stick, even though the two units are engineered completely differently. Instead of being connected to the transmission with three rods--as in the old days--the C5/C6 shifter isn't mounted to the transmission at all. In fact, it's mounted on the torque tube with a single shifter rod connecting it to the trans. This design layout causes the shifter to have a very long throw and loose feel.
The Fidanza shifter is engineered to increase shift precision and shorten throw by approximately 30 percent, while staying quiet and smooth enough for daily driving. Best of all, it can be installed in a few hours by anyone with basic mechanical skills and a decent set of tools.
One last thing: If you're taking the time to install a performance shifter in your Corvette, you might want to take an extra 15 minutes to put in a skip-shift eliminator. Most agree that the C5/C6's Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS) is a major hindrance to driving enjoyment. Also known as "skip shift," CAGS forces the driver to shift from First directly to Fourth when accelerating slowly from a stop. Skip-shift units are readily available from the aftermarket--ours came from Mid America Motorworks--and put the driver back in control.