Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 19, 2004

A driver needs to be in control of his or her Mustang. Having 600 hpunder the hood is useless if you're riding on stock suspension, sittingin a base-model seat, and shifting a stock-rubber isolated shifter.Without control, you can't safely push your car to its limits.

That's why a Mustang with supportive seats, harness belts, tunedsuspension, grippy tires, and a quick-acting, solid shifter always makesfor a better car. If you ever get a chance to attend driving school orrun hot laps around a track, you'll see the lower track times come fromthose who have control of their vehicles, and those cars don'tnecessarily have the most horsepower under their hoods either.

Enough preaching--you know you need to have better control of yourMustang. Seats can be expensive, and not everyone likes to drive dailyin full harness restraints (though I prefer it myself, feeling safer andin more control with my Schroth four-point restraints than a standardthree-point belt system). One of the first things you can do to aid inyour quest for proper control is to replace the stock-rubber isolatedshifter for one that has a solid handle attachment and a stronger basewith an engineered shorter throw.

Horse Sense: The SST model of the Hurst BilletPlus features the classic styling of a Hurst flat chrome stick and whiteshift knob. If the retro styling is not to your taste, the SST willaccept any Hurst, stock, or aftermarket shift handle that mounts usingtwo bolts, as does the OEM shifter handle. This allows you to install astock-looking handle and knob, while still retaining the short throw ofthe SST.

There are several brands available on the market, most with similardesign attributes and claims. Recently, however, the original shifterspecialists at Hurst took their standard Billet Plus model--a goodshifter in its own right--and made the throw even shorter. Adding themoniker "SST" to the model, the new shifter comes with Hurst'sretro-cool, chrome, flat-stick handle and vintage-style, white-ballshift knob. If you have a Mach 1, this shifter is screaming for you.

Besides the shorter throw and new appearance features, the SST alsoincludes a pair of adjustment screws that can raise or lower thebias-spring tension within the shifter. This allows you to set the biasspring (the side-to-side motion while shifting from Second to Third, forexample) to your liking. The adjustment is readily accessible at the topof the shifter body for quick tweaking.

Since shifter installations are so much easier on the SN-95-basedconsole, we'll install our new Billet Plus SST into a Fox Mustang,noting any SN-95 nuances along the way.

The Hurst Billet Plus SST shifter comes with everything you see here tomount to the Mustang's T5 or T45 transmission. When installing on a T45,the gold cad-plated spacer to the lower right will be used, but it isnot required on our T5 installation. The SST model (PN 3915071)generally retails for around $225.
1 "I hate when this happens," Associate Editor Johnson said,pouting, when he brought what was left of his shifter into the office.We can only assume his classes at the Barry Shepard School of Shiftinghaven't gone well. Johnson liked the idea of the SST's shorter throw andwanted to try it on his notch. Here the shift knob and boot have alreadybeen removed.
2 Whoever put this car together before Johnson bought it didn'tbother to find the proper-length bolts, as a pair of solid shifterbushings (usually used only with stock-rubber isolated handles) wereused here as spacers. It got the job done, but it was ugly. We removedthe two bolts and the shifter lever.
3 The weather boot sitting on top of the shifter needs to beremoved to access the shifter mounting bolts. There are four small 8mmbolts that hold the weather-boot frame to the transmission tunnel. Thebolts--especially the front ones--can be difficult to access on FoxMustangs. A swivel socket or notching the console a bit will help withthe fronts. You can also remove the console if you like.