Thanks matt224, that's what I thought. My Mustang and my Miata factory shifters both did that. If I recall correctly (it was a long time ago), my '73 Challenger with factory installed Hurst shifter did also.
I stopped by the dealership and mentioned to the parts manager I'm thinking about changing the shifter. He told me I'd be sorry because in addition to the sound deadening, the ugly cover also keeps down the heat you get from the exposed shaft.
Now I've had trucks with shifter shafts exposed before and didn't notice excessive heat. Why would he try to talk me out of the Hurst using that reasoning.