July 11, 2013

Horse Sense: Steeda sells a lot of shifters for Mustangs, but recently the ST shifter seen here is one of the company’s most popular Tri-Ax units.

Over the last couple decades Ford vehicles have improved by leaps and bounds. From their performance to their fit and finish, today’s Blue Oval rides are impressive right off the lot. However, that’s not to say they are perfect or couldn’t be honed a bit for performance nuts like us.

Despite Ford twisting the dials of even its most pedestrian vehicles to the sportier end of the scale, there are still compromises required to sell cars to the masses. Not everyone wants their ride sharpened to a knife’s edge, but it’s safe to say that if you are reading this, you probably want your ride’s performance knobs twisted up to 11.

In the case of factory shifters, it seems they suffer the most compromises on the altar of mainstreaming. They are vague, loose, and sloppy. We demand precision from our gear selectors. Since a shifter is one of the parts you use the most in a manual-trans car, swapping in a high-performance shifter offers an immediate and long-lasting positive impact on your driving experience.

That is definitely the case with Ford’s latest performance Focus, the ST. Its factory shifter needs help. The quest to remedy the stock stick led me to Steeda Autosports to add one of the company’s vaunted Tri-Ax shifters (among other things) to my new ’13 Focus ST daily driver, Project Silver Lining.

The shifter upgrade was relatively easy, and the improvement was of the night-and-day variety. Keep reading to see how the Steeda stick goes in.

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Steeda’s billet Short-Throw Shifter Bracket (PN 555-7242; $89.99) is designed to hasten that pivoting action by reorienting the pivot ball location. This bracket straddles the pivot arm and clamps on from the bottom. It moves the pivot ball toward the center of the pivot, shortening the shift flow by a reported 35 percent.