There’s no question that the sixth-generation Camaro SS offers a ton of performance right out of the box. It’s a particularly tasty package when equipped with the manual gearbox, which brings a Tremec TR-6060 six-speed gearbox into the equation, making for a more involving driving experience and providing the driver with direct control over the transmission’s behavior at all times.
Yet like any production car, there are design concessions which must be made in order to keep the car accessible to the widest swath of buyers possible, both in terms of drivability and costs. But that just means the Camaro SS serves as a very solid canvas for enthusiasts to tailor to their needs, and with fantastic aftermarket support, they can mold Chevrolet’s muscle coupe into exactly what they’ve envisioned.
When it comes to the gearbox, it’s undoubtedly a sweet setup, but the shifter can be a bit tame for some. Although the engineers tasked with designing the gearbox setup wanted to provide customers with a sporty shifter feel, they also had external factors to consider, like the noise, harshness and vibration targets that needed to be meet, a limited amount of time to refine that design, and the requirement to keep manufacturing costs down. The result is that, while the shifter is quiet during operation, the throws are somewhat long and there’s a rubbery overall feel to the shifter when in use.
While that may be fine for most drivers, there are three-pedal enthusiasts among us who want more from their setup, and that’s where Hurst Shifters comes in with their Gen Six Camaro SS Billet/Plus short-throw shifter. Available with two billet aluminum shift handle options – the classic cue ball shift knob (PN 3916031) or a black pistol grip-style handle (PN 3916131) – these short-throw shifters offer a lot more than just an aesthetic upgrade. We wanted to check out this new short throw setup for ourselves, so we hustled a 2016 Camaro SS into the shop and got to work. But before we dive into the installation, let’s take a closer look at the details of the shifter and its advantages over stock.
Going Short Throw
Hurst says this shifter is designed to “put the feel of performance” back into shifting. That certainly sounds pretty good to us, but what exactly does that mean? Well, the most immediate and quantifiable difference versus the stock shifter is a 40 percent reduction in shift throws. In terms of performance driving, that provides a host of benefits in everything from drag racing to track days.
Reducing the distance of travel for each shift cuts down on how long it physically takes to change gear, which in turn equates to faster acceleration in general – when the transmission and engine are decoupled during shifts you’re slowing down, so anything you can do to reduce that down time will improve straight line performance.
“We’ve reduced the throw by 40 percent with this short throw shifter, and it provides a solid, crisp shift feel as well,” says Dale Dotson of Hurst parent company Driven Performance Brands. “This shifter features Hurst’s classic and iconic white shift knob for that old-school muscle car look while maintaining modern performance.”
Noise may be an issue with some performance shifters, but with our isolation design, we reduce noise that may otherwise be resonated from the transmission while still providing a solid feel in hand. – Dale Dotson, Driven Performance Brands
Crucially, Hurst has also considered overall refinement in their design as well. “Noise may be an issue with some performance shifters,” explains Dotson. “But with our isolation design, we reduce noise that may otherwise be resonated from the transmission while still providing a solid feel in hand.”
Now that we’ve got a better sense of what to expect from this upgrade, let’s get it in the car so we can hit the street and experience it in action.
While swapping out the stock shifter for the Hurst unit is a fairly hassle-free proposition, there’s a number of steps involved in order to access the shifter for removal, so you’re going to want to set aside a few hours to knock this out and keep the installation guide handy.
“The install was pretty straightforward,” explained Rory Fontana, the owner of the Camaro. “But it’s definitely a lot easier if you have a lift to use, as the swap requires removing some large components under the car to access the shifter assembly from underneath the car, and the transmission crossmember will need to be supported as well.” Fortunately, Fontana is also the owner of Fontana Motorsports in Simi Valley, California, so he of course had a shop with a lift at his disposal for the install.
Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some interior trim tools available so you can unfasten the shifter bezel from the center console without causing any damage to either part while freeing the bezel from its attachment points.
Our first order of business was to remove the shift boot, bezel and shift knob as one assembly. Using a trim tool, pry up on the chrome bezel from the edge behind the parking brake button. Once that’s removed, you’ll have access to the bolt that mounts the shift knob. After unfastening that bolt, the shift knob, boot and bezel can be removed. After removing the four bolts that attach the rubber boot to the transmission tunnel, we can move our focus to underneath the vehicle.
Since the exhaust comes out as one piece, you’ll want to raise the car at all four corners. The job can be done with a jack and jack stands, but if you have access to lift, it will definitely make your lift easier for this particular job.
After removing the crossbrace and supporting the exhaust system with a transmission jack or similar solution, you’ll begin the process of unbolting the exhaust system. There’s a number of fasteners involved, along with the oxygen sensors and a wiring harness for the active exhaust system for cars equipped as such, so be sure to follow each step of the instructions carefully.
You’ll need to get to the driveshaft next, and in order to remove it, there’s a tunnel brace and a heat shield that will need to come off as well. Once the driveshaft is out, you’ll need to support the transmission with a jack and remove the two 10mm bolts from the rear of the shifter housing. From here the transmission crossmember will be removed, allowing you enough room to lower the rear end of the transmission to gain access to the front of the shifter housing.
After removing the spring loaded pin and a few C-clips, you should be able to remove the entire shifter assembly from the vehicle.
From here you’ll be merging the shifter housing components with the new Hurst shifter. After putting those components together and properly greasing the new bushings, the shifter can be reinstalled and you can simply reverse the disassembly process to button everything back up, making sure to torque the various components to factory torque specs.
On The Road
While it takes some wrenching to pull the factory shifter out in order to get the new Hurst unit swapped in, Fontana tells us it was well worth the effort. “The shifter feels great – short front to rear throws, but the gates also aren’t too close, as is the case with some of the short-throw shifters I’ve used.”
Hurst’s efforts to isolate resonance from the transmission into the cabin proved to be effective as well. “There’s been absolutely no noise or vibration at all, at any RPM, from this new Hurst short throw,” Fontana reports.
Are you a three-pedal diehard looking to enhance the performance of your sixth generation Camaro SS? This short-throw shifter from Hurst Shifters offers a sharp aesthetic, substantially shorter throws, and none of the drawbacks that are commonplace with many aftermarket short-throw shifters, making this an upgrade that doesn’t require concessions when it comes to refinement and noise. That sounds like a win-win to us.