Tom Wilson
June 1, 2005

Horse Sense:
Project car provider Rich Robello is the second '05 GT owner to submit his new 'Stang to our camera before making his first payment. Who says hot-rodding is dead?

Enjoyable as the new Mustang is, ask anyone who's driven one and they'll report the shifter is a rubbery disappointment. Finding gears is a reasonably accurate exercise assuming your adrenal glands aren't secreting sauce like a musk ox, but the feel is disconnected-mushy even.

So here is Steeda bursting through the opportunity door before you can get that new Mustang out of the dealer's driveway-Steeda engineers must hide in the bushes-with a snazzy billet shifter ready to go. The business end of the shifter, including the adjustable, positive stops and billet collar and pivot ball, are familiar stuff to late-model enthusiasts. The attachment hardware, braces, and other specifics to the '05 shifter are, of course, new to all of us.

Also new is the installation procedure. Whereas Mustang shifters have traditionally installed from inside the cockpit, the new shifter installs mainly from under the car. That's because the '05 shifter is remotely mounted from the transmission and it's necessary to access the bracketry from underneath. This entails disconnecting the driveshaft from the transmission to gain access to the shifter, but because the transmission/driveshaft interface is a flange, this is straightforward nut and bolt work. It is not necessary to remove the driveshaft from the car or disconnect the exhaust, and there is no transmission fluid mess to work around.

So, unlike before, changing the '05 shifter requires a floor jack and jackstands at the least, or if you've fallen off as many dirt bikes as we have, a hoist. For the first time, though, count on several hours-shops will have the task down to a couple of hours after a few run-throughs.

Aside from saying it's a heavy-duty, well-built piece here, we'll let the photos and captions handle the details of Steeda's Tri-Ax shifter and move on to our driving impressions. Car owner Rich Robello was kind enough to let us do the snick-snick thing with his achingly new car, although we followed his cue and didn't try any hammering heroics with the five-speed's new joy lever. The action was definitely improved, with the rubbery offensiveness replaced by a manly precision. We judged the muscle required fine for enthusiasts and approaching noticeable for those weaned on four-banger lightweights. The gap between the gates is tight, so it takes a handful of shifts to get the feel down, but it is rewarding in its performance personality.

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