This manual transmission conversion for the E46 M3 CSL is reasonable and fully reversable

When BMW launched the E46 M3 CSL it wasn’t offered with a full-fledged manual transmission. Instead, it had a rather clunky SMG gearbox that was, arguably, the most significant weakness of the car. Well, there’s something a lot of people don’t realize about that SMG gearbox – it was actually a “robotized” manual transmission, and that opens the door to a pretty awesome conversion. That’s where Everything M3s comes into play, and for a little more than $4,500 (£3,500), they’ll make that SMG a true-to-life manual transmission with a shifter and three pedals.

How the E46 BMW M3 CSL Can Be Converted to a Manual

The whole manual conversion process for the E46 M3 CSL came to light a while back when one example of this car post-conversion crossed the auction block. The company that did that conversion, Everything M3s, is now offering the conversion for just £3,500 or just shy of $4,600 at current exchange rates. What’s really cool about the conversion, though, is that you don’t need to swap out the transmission or alter the car too much. And, because of that, you don’t risk killing the investment value of the car since it’s all reversable. In fact, upon completion, Everything M3s will package and tag every single part exchanged as part of the process so you can go back to stock later if you so desire. But, how does the conversion actually happen?

For Less Than $5,000, You Can Convert Your E46 BMW M3 CSL to a Real Manual Transmission
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BMW’s SMG gearbox was classified as a robotized manual transmission, which is basically old-school talk for the term automated manual that you hear today. But, this robotized manual is special because it was basically a manual transmission with some electrohydraulic add-ons that do the driver’s work for them. The process starts with removal of the transmission, then the technicians will remove all those electrohydraulic goodies and replace them.

The added parts include a new clutch, pressure plate, flywheel, and self-centering shifting mechanism, the latter of which replaces the original gear shifter.
For Less Than $5,000, You Can Convert Your E46 BMW M3 CSL to a Real Manual Transmission
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Once all the stock parts are out and the new goods are installed, the transmission is reinstalled to the engine. From there, Everything M3s just has to reprogram the ECU so that it knows it doesn’t have to worry about shifting duties anymore. Again, it’s easier said than done, but if you really want your E35 M3 CSL to have a real manual transmission, the price isn’t too bad. The best part is that the conversion kit contains 180 genuine BMW parts, including the clutch pedal and shifter so it still looks 100-percent stock and as it would had BMW built the car the way it should have way back then. According to Car Throttle, there is currently a waiting list for the conversion, but Everything M3s says that the “lead times are reasonable.”

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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