Ben Liaw’s / Short Shifter Conversion – Has your Z3 been BL/SS’d (Blessed: Get It?)

After sitting in an M Roadster at the dealership one day, I notice that the shifter was much shorter than my ’96 M3. After some research, I discovered that all E36 cars can upgrade to this new, shorter, throw with this upgraded shifter lever. You are only replacing the lever itself, nothing else.

These detailed instructions will cover the procedure for the home mechanic, doing it him/her self. There is another procedure which is easier and quicker, but requires a lift and unique tools which is very expensive. Otherwise, this method works (I had to do it this way the first time) and should take about an 45 minutes. 60 minutes if you’re a klutz.

The coolest thing about this is that while the AC Schnitzer short shift kit is between $700-$1000, this conversion, which does the same thing, costs about $50. Please note that this is NOT the same as the $99 Autothority shifter kit as the AutoThority kit simply lengthens the distance from the ball to the lower linkage with a machined piece. This has known to shorten the shift, but also known to increase the sloppiness.

This has become a very hot upgrade as there are no shifters in the country at the moment. Just order it and be patient.

The Details

Shifter throw is reduced 31%.

Less slop than stock shifter.

Increased shifter effort decreases chances of mis-shift.

An upgrade that virtually no one can tell (UUC approved).

BMW Parts You Need

M Roadster Shift Lever (# 25-11-2-228-384) [required] – Part lists for $52.25

Nylon ball joint cup (# 25-11-1-220-600) or (# 25-11-1-469-397) these two parts are identical [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $14.87

Washers (2) (# 25-11-1-220-439) these parts can be damaged during the removal of the stock shift knob if you are not careful. [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $0.47

Circlip (# 25-11-1-220-379) this part can be damaged during the removal of the stock shift knob if you are not careful. [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $0.68

Carrier Bushing (# 25-11-1-221-822) [recommended if you have slop] – Part lists for $6.98

Tools You Need

Flat bladed screwdriver approximately 8 inches long

Grease (like white lithium)

Floor Jack

Jack Stands (2)

Step 1: Get the knob off

This procedure is best done while the car is cool and has not been running. Leave the car overnight and do this on a Saturday morning. After the front end of the car has been jacked up and supported with jack stands, you’re ready to start.

Pull off shifter knob (straight up, don’t hit yourself in the face). Do not try to twist the knob off, there are no threads on the shifter lever.

Step 2: Unhook the Shifter

Crawl under car and locate the end of the shifter lever. It is connected to a “linkage” arm with a circlip.

Remove circlip and yellow washer. On an older car, the circlip may be stubborn and you’ll ruin it taking it off. On newer cars, you can push it off with your fingers. Make sure you replace both yellow washers on either side of the bottom of the shifter lever.

Disconnect linkage arm from bottom of shifter lever.

Step 3: The Bitch of a Clip

The silver carrier which holds the ball joint of the shifter lever needs to come out. It has a “pointed” end which is facing towards the rear of the car…ignore that end. You want to focus your efforts on the FRONT of this carrier.

You’ll notice that the front of the carrier is buried above the tranny housing somehow. The carrier is secured to the car via a “pin” which is secured in a peculiar manner. Instead of a nut/bolt passing through the hole, there is a pin which is secured with a “latch” type of function. You’ll barely see it, but you can see the pin.

Once you locate the side which has the “latch”, use the side of the flat bladed screwdriver to pry up on the latch. You’ll need to get the latch to point upwards (it’s horizontal in the “lock” state). I found that if I kept prying upwards, pushing, more prying, the latch worked its way up slowly. When you’ve finally gotten the latch “up”, you can push the pin out, towards the latch direction.

Note for those with excessively sloppy shifting: If you notice, the pin comes out of a rubber bushing on the end of the carrier. If you have excessive play while the car is in gear, replace this bushing. Doing this BL/SS install will NOT fix sloppy shifting. You will have SHORT sloppy shifting. I don’t know the part number off hand, but Steve D. does. I’ll post the part number here and modify these instructions to include the bushing.

Step 4: Take Out the Carrier

You must remove the silver carrier/shifter lever assembly from the car now. I find that if you pushed the entire assembly forwards and backwards, you’ll be able to give enough room for the rear “pointy” part of the carrier to slip out, allowing the entire assembly to be then dropped down.

Step 5: Replace and Lube the New Lever

Once the assembly is out, you’ll have to remove the shifter lever from the aluminum carrier. It’s held in by a nylon cup. You have to get the cup out of the carrier, and I’ve found a screwdriver to work. Once you get the lever/cup out of the carrier, pull it straight off.

There is no incorrect way for the new shifter can be installed since it is perfectly straight, unlike the one you’re removing, which has a bend to it. Just be sure that the lower linkage hole is pointed in the correct direction. When you hook the linkage back up, it will be all lined up, ready for the shifter to be put on.

Replace new shifter lever into the cup, but make sure you lube it.

Press it back into the carrier, and make sure it has the “tabs” of the nylon cup sticking out of the slots on the side of the carrier.

Step 6: Reinstall

reinstall in reverse order

Final Notes:

You’ll notice and immediate difference in the shifting, not just in the throw, but also in the smoothness. I’m not sure why the factory doesn’t lube the nylon cup enough, but it sure does make a difference.

So, what do you do with this extra lever, you say? Well, it’s pretty much useless, unless you want to go back to long, sloppy shifts. They do fit in E30 cars, so be a pal and donate it to an E30 owner.

Enjoy your “blessed” shifter.