Project E36 M3: Part 6 - Short Shifter and Engine Mounts

Project E36 M3: Part 6 - Short Shifter and Engine Mounts

by Jonathan Lawson

After reading the glowing magazine reviews for two and half years in the mid-90s, I finally test drove my first BMW E36 M3 back in 1997. That drive was all I could think about until July of 1999 when I finally gave in and bought my first M3. I was coming from a 1994 DC4 Acura Integra LS, so everything about the E36 M3 was incredible to me… Except the shifter. The first thing I remember from that very first test drive was the feeling of churning butter just to shift gears. The overall feel was acceptable, but the length of the throws was ridiculous compared to the notchy goodness of the Acura, so that was the first thing I changed on my original ’99 M3, and it’s the first thing I’ve changed on each E36 I’ve owned since then.

The shifting feel on this Project E36 M3 was off more than previous cars, and finding gears often took more time and effort than it should, so I knew the bushings on the transmission brace were shot, and I just happened to have a set of my old BimmerWorld transmission mounts that I was able to clean up the feel with in a hurry.


Project M3 BimmerWorld transmission mountsMy old BimmerWorld trans mounts were in great shape, and they took away most of the vagueness while I waited for my new Rogue Engineering Octane Short Shifter to show up, but it was obvious there was a bit more in need of attention to get all the feel back, so a set of BimmerWorld Performance/Track Engine Mounts were on the way, too.

The very first short shifter kit (SSK) that I had on my first M3 didn’t last very long. The quality just wasn’t there, so for my next kit on that car I ponied up for the Octane SSK from Rogue Engineering. That one went through multiple track seasons and carried over to my race build with no issues, so that’s the route I’ve taken with each BMW I’ve had since then.


Project M3 Rogue short shifterThe Rogue Engineering Octane SSK looks simple enough when you read the parts list, but the level of engineering and their attention to detail is obvious when you actually see the parts in person. A new shifter cup, retaining clips, and the infamous “bitch” clip are all included, so you don’t have to worry about being too cautious with removal of your old shifter. 
Project M3 RE Octane SSKThe shifter carrier is a thing of beauty, built from CNC-machined billet aluminum that carries over the factory selector rod geometry. The shifter rod upper section adds a small amount of weight to the top of the lever, and combined with the added weight of the Weighted Selector Rod (WSR), the shifter feel and precision is very much improved. The custom neoprene rubber insert minimizes NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), and the integrated pivot ball is made of a thermoplastic material called Ertalyte TX, and it has built-in lubricity plus the ability to dampen vibration even further—the quality feels BMW stock, only with much better shifting action. 
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Thursday, March 31, 2016 6:25 AM
I'm happy to see E36 M3 content on here!

A short throw is desperately needed on these cars. They're what the car should have come with stock. Also somewhat related (and the absolute first thing I did when I got my well used M3) is the clutch pedal bushings. Those plastic POS bushings wear out and the clutch pedal starts wobbling around like a drunk. If you haven't yet, spend the $20 and get delrin (or some people make bronze ones) clutch pedal bushings. The install is... a delightful challenge. I've also heard great things about Mason Engineering's metal replacement clutch pedal but have no experience with it.

How are the Bimmerworld engine mounts at idle? I briefly installed some AKG engine mounts that were relatively soft but were a bolt through design. The car felt like a damn massage chair at idle, especially with the AC on. So I just went back to new OEM ones, but I've always thought I should've gone with the Bimmerworld Group N style.
Thursday, March 31, 2016 7:29 AM
Agreed that the short shifter is almost a necessity. At least from a personal standpoint. I'm surprised how many people actually like the long, soft throws - or maybe they're just put off by some of the other shifters that make the notchiness almost unbearable.

I haven't had to deal with the sloppy clutch pedal on any of my E36 M3s yet, despite racking up a lot of mileage over the years. I'm on an enduro team with a 325i, however, and we already have delrin bushings ready to go into that one.

If someone is looking for factory-based silence, I wouldn't recommend the Group N style mounts. I ordered them from BimmerWorld knowing that there would be a bit of an increase in NVH, and it was about what I expected. There's a bit more vibration at idle, but certainly not bothersome. I've grown used to it and don't even notice it, but it's probably very dependent upon driver tolerance.
Friday, April 01, 2016 6:45 AM
My e36 came with a shortthrow. I hated it. The short throw makes the shifter stiffer(shorter moment arm). I fixed it by going with a long shifter(TRM 7"). Now it's fantastic. The short throw crisps up the shifts and the long shifter keeps the effort low and move the shifter up near the wheel(where it should be!).
Monday, April 04, 2016 3:24 PM
I put M3 motor and trans mounts on my E46 325. It greatly improved shifter feel and precision. It did however add some vibration at cold idle and a resonance vibration around 2k rpm.

I also added the Mason clutch pedal and love it. It's especially nice for guys with long legs. I see EAS also has a similar pedal available.
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