How do you improve on perfection? Like this.
"The Ultimate Driving Machine" – that's what a BMW is supposed to be, but the E46 M3 CSL, one of the German brand's greatest hits, came up ever so slightly short on that promise.
Sure, there's no doubt it was – and still is – an amazing car, but its lack of a manual option was something of a disappointment. Until now.
Banbury-based BMW specialist Everything M3s is now offering manual gearbox conversion kits for the E46 model M3 CSL, which replaces the "harsh" paddle-operated sequential that came from the factory.
"While the E46 M3 CSL is the ultimate road car, the SMG system just doesn’t work as well as modern systems do," said leading supercar expert James Cottingham of DK Engineering who endorsed the new conversion. "The BMW manual gearbox is tried and tested, and Everything M3s has done a fabulous job of converting the transmission for manual use."
The kit is sold fully fitted, including the clutch pedal and gear stick, and uses 180 genuine BMW parts.
During the fitting process, which takes place over a few days, the gearbox is removed from the vehicle. A self-centering shifting mechanism is then added, along with a new clutch and flywheel, then the engine management system is recoded to work with the new manual transmission.
With the CSL being more of a collector car these days, the entire process is completely reversible, ensuring that the car can retain its value.
"While we appreciate every iteration of M3, I was annoyed that the CSL – in my opinion, the best of the best – never had a manual gearbox, so I decided to engineer my own," said ex-Formula 1 mechanic and engineer Darragh Doyle, who came up with the conversion "It is easier to live with in traffic and around town, while giving total control on a racetrack. A manual M3 CSL is the car that BMW should have always built."
The full kit is priced from £3,500 (about $4,500 at current exchange rates), and there's already a waiting list for the conversion – although Everything M3s tells us that lead times are reasonable.
Gallery: 2003 BMW M3 CSL
MANUAL GEARBOX CONVERSION KIT FOR AUTO E46 BMW M3 CSL LAUNCHED BY SPECIALIST, EVERYTHING M3S
UK BMW high performance specialist provides bespoke conversion kit for E46 model M3
Aftermarket kit uses only boxed BMW parts
Fully reversible, cars can be returned to stock if needed
Endorsed by supercar specialist, DK Engineering
30 July 2020
Banbury based BMW performance car specialist, Everything M3s, celebrates the launch of its manual gearbox conversion kits for the E46 model M3 CSL with a short film that has been endorsed by leading supercar expert James Cottingham of DK Engineering.
Revered by collectors and drivers worldwide, the rare E46 BMW M3 CSL is considered to be one of the best roadgoing cars of all time, although for many it has a shortcoming with its early form of paddleshift gearbox, known as DSG.
For those used to more recent performance cars, this often-harsh gearbox could spoil the driving pleasure of an otherwise great car, until conversion specialist Everything M3s engineered its own solution to the problem.
Supercar expert James Cottingham commented: “While the E46 M3 CSL is the ultimate road car, the SMG system just doesn’t work as well as modern systems do. The BMW manual gearbox is tried and tested, and Everything M3s has a done a fabulous job of converting the transmission for manual use.”
Sold as a complete fitted kit, the manual conversion replaces the electrohydraulic element of the gearbox with a traditional clutch pedal and gear stick arrangement using 180 genuine all-BMW parts.
In a process which takes just a matter of days, the gearbox is removed from the vehicle, a self-centering shifting mechanism is added, a new clutch and flywheel are fitted and finally the engine management system is recoded for a manual transmission.
Protecting the originality of the limited-edition M3 CSL to retain its values is key, so the entire process is reversible and all parts can be retained with the vehicle to ensure a complete return to a factory state at any time in the future.
Everything M3s is the brainchild of ex-Formula 1 mechanic and engineer, Darragh Doyle, who enjoyed a love of the BMW M3 from childhood. Having left Formula 1, he set up Everything M3s to specialise in the restoration, servicing, tuning and enhancement of these vehicles. A devotee of the rare CSL edition, he was frustrated with the lack of a manual gearbox option.
Darragh said: “While we appreciate every iteration of M3, I was annoyed that the CSL - in my opinion the best of the best - never had a manual gearbox, so I decided to engineer my own. It is easier to live with in traffic and around town, while giving total control on a racetrack. A manual M3 CSL is the car that BMW should have always built.”
Kits start at £3500, and while there is a waiting list for the conversion, lead times are reasonable.