Got my 420G feeling like a Springfield.

Got my 420G feeling like a Springfield.

"These build journal entries are part of a special series on the development of the E46 M3 V2 Carbon Driveshaft by YFCM Composites. 

This journal entry covers my thoughts on the stock 420G, my previous experiences with the V8 and V10, my driving impressions along those of another tester, Ryan, who's been able to tear it up down under in Australia."
- Matt

My history with M manual transmissions. 

I've always felt the stock BMW manual transmissions really weren't all that in stock form. 

I used to own an E92 M3 6spd back in 2012. 

The clutch was rattly, the flywheel felt heavy, the throws were long and felt like row boat actions through mushy bushings and that would crunch 2nd gear if you felt like showcasing some sleight of hands.

I tried a quick fix with the F10 M5 weight shift knob and it made it OK.  

I heard a DCT snap downshifts and the rest was history - this car was gone and made way for a PDK 987.2S. 

Pardon the OG photography, these were different times. 

The 420G is worse. 

This Getrag transmission couldn't handle as much torque as the GS6-53BZ with its single disc clutch. For this reason, it's often swapped for the 5 speed found in the older US E36. 

My 420G was previously fitted with a HD Sachs clutch to sustain Supercharger power levels: it wasn't fun either. 

Progress doesn't work like that [...] or does it. 

This is admittedly unfair criticism: I bought into the E46 M3 going backwards in times.

It was still an improvement over the US E36 M3's 5 speed transmission with an extra gear. The extra torque multiplication from tighter ratios made it a much faster car than the E36.

We can fix the past (!). 

The carbon fiber driveshaft was first introduced to the BMW M world in 2015 with the introduction of the F8x M3 and M4. I previously touched on this here

This car featured solid mounted subframe bushings, lightened DCT flywheel and a a one piece carbon fiber driveshaft. 

It was a chassis masterpiece if you disregard the first MY. 

We're now able to retrofit carbon fiber driveshafts to older BMW Ms thank to engineering focused brands such as YFCM. 

My experiences with YFCM's driveshafts on my V8 and V10.  

I've been running the YFCM V2 carbon driveshaft variants on my E92 M3 and E60 M5 for 30,000 kilometers combined. 

You can read more about my V8 DCT impressions here.

Everything is sharper, everything is smoother - and thus, everything is faster. 

Within the framework of automated manuals and double clutch superfast transmissions, the carbon driveshaft mostly has the effect of an efficiency multiplier. 

The current state of my E92 DCT makes it the pe·nul·ti·mate BMW M transmission: there was nothing ever more efficient.

They are both, ahem, well, they both have a Drive mode (!). 

The E60 SMG3 has the added layer of making the SMG actually livable in low gears and reverse, something the DCT doesn't have many issues with in comparison. 

It made the Drive mode useful in some instances - which it really never was. 

Still, I didn't have hands-on experience with YFCM's carbon driveshaft on any 6spd BMW M application. 

No matter what I like to think, these 2x cars don't have a third pedal and will never feel like a manual, even the SMG3.  


The E46 M3 experience. 

I had the carbon driveshaft installed over the Summer and was able to drive sporadically the E46 M3 through the Fall. 

The 420G and the E46 M3 always felt especially raw: you can hear mechanical noises all over the spectrum of clutch operations. 

It adds character - although it never felt really efficient. 

The carbon driveshaft fixes it.  

The E46 M3 6spd carbon fiber driveshaft provided all the efficiency benefits I previously experienced most specifically with the SMG3 V10:

  • The throttle response is improved
  • The connection to the rear is improved. 
  • The chassis response is improved. 
  • The low speed clutch operations are smoother. 

There's no more softness or hesitation between shifts as the powertrain simply doesn't move as much anymore thanks to the 1 piece tube design. 

Click, click, boom: the bolt action. 

Because of the 3rd pedal: a new layer to the experience was added. 

The carbon driveshaft enhances the raw nature of the E46 M3 and its 420G. 

Whenever you find yourself catching a gear: it feels instant with an extra layer of mechanical feelings is added. 

You can feel the linkage move around.

You can feel the clutch grabbing the flywheel.

You can feel the rear end bolted to your hips. 

This is the greatest benefits of all across my experiences with carbon driveshafts. 

It feels like shooting a Springfield at the range, or in COD.

Ryan's experience. 

His perspective will be different than mine as he previously had a DSS/VAC carbon driveshaft fitted. I know from research in the M3 V8 world that their design was a failure. Ryan confirms it. 

This is Ryan's review of the driveshaft. I added titles to help situate his points and put how many times he said wow in italic ahah (thanks for the enthusiasm Ryan!), 


My car's condition. 

This is my experience of what I have gone through to get my E46 M3 drivetrain to feel & drive the way it should.

My E46 has had all the major problems taken care of :
  1. Subframe with upper rear struts reinforced
  2. X Braced all my Diff ,Cradle ,R tabs etc are all Solid.
  3. 4.10  Gears shimmed lsd
  4. Trans & motor mounts are polly Turner Msprt Bushings
  5. H & R Swaybars  & turner adj end links  & also new oem F & R control arms etc,
The Factory driveshaft was vibrating & almost bouncing. I replaced the Centre Bearing & Flex disc but after doing new centre Bearing & guibo it just felt sloppy.

My VAC experience.

I decided to look for a one piece carbon driveshaft but i had seen a lot of people saying they have bad vibrations.

I was going to buy a DSS shop one but at the time it was 8 month wait, so I saw VAC Motorsports had a e46 m3 Driveshaft on there website. I purchased it thinking they were a big company, it should be fine but boy was i wrong.

As soon as I got the driveshaft it was sent to the workshop. After being in Covid19 Lockdown in Sydney NSW Australia for almost 12 months, I couldn't wait to get the car back on the road to see how it would drive with this lovely light driveshaft.

My initial thoughts were that it feels Amazing but that was on 80kph speed limit roads. I didn't push it as I like to drive a lot of mountain roads & do 3 to 4 track days a year.

Once the car was above 145kph, the car would vibrate that bad it felt like it was causing damage to the car. 

Even with back to back emails with my workshop for a solution, the shaft was still vibrating & VAC Motorsports still saying we have sold many, we've never seen this issue.

I thought I was stuck with no fixing. 

Finding Matt. 

Then the same day was sitting at home looking on one of my e46 m3 groups on Facebook when I came across a post from Matt Di Vita.

There was a post about e46 m3 Carbon driveshaft, the end of the post had the most important parts to buying this: the driveshaft had been high speed tested with no vibrations & with a replacement warranty.

So I got in touch With Matt, the process was easy & smooth. He even sent me messages to advise items recommended to install with/before drive shaft got put in unlike Big Workshops like Vac Motorsports.

He also helped out with shipment process to Australia to help me with overall cost service 10/10.

My YFCM experience.

While we had the YCFM carbon shaft installed, I got a CAE street shifter fitted.
We dropped the previous driveshaft and my workshop manager said lets open this up have a look to make sure its not like last one you got.

He looked up with a smile and said:
Wow this looks like its made to a much better standard & compared it side by side with vibrating VAC crap shaft.
Once i picked up car mechanic, he even commented how good the car felt with new drive shaft & CAE shifter, knowing that did put a smile on my face.

My driving tests. 

Let me tell you from the moment I put it back in 1st gear I said to myself
Wow this feels so solid direct and smooth.
Once I shifted to 2nd gear and put my foot down for the first time again in a while, not only does it rev up so much better and directly compared to standard 2 piece driveshaft, I put the power down so much smoother all the way through the rpm range.

I hard shifted to third and wow, no hesitation in shift to 3rd. It chirps semis in 3rd then pulls through 3rd hard smooth and precise.
I said to myself wow, this is how I always thought it should feel: no vibrations, just solid feeling & amazingly smooth delivery. It is complimented so well with the CAE street shifter, what a combination!

My track day tests.

After first track day pushing car really hard at speeds over 200kmph, the driveshaft performed flawlessly still smooth at over 200kmph.
Wow, what a driveshaft. I would say it would feel just as good even if you didn't have solid diff bushing , cradle etc, like me  as its still silky smooth with solid mounts.
I have already done over 1000km's on driveshaft still feels great, I am more than happy to give you my update long term.

Great driveshaft Matt thanks again much appreciated. (P.S  VAC MotorSport still wont reply to me about Dud Driveshaft sitting out back)
End of Ryan's review.

In closing thoughts to this Special Series, there will be eternally be something special about pushing down on a clutch, swapping a cog and releasing your left foot and pushing into the power pedal. 

It's the feeling

The carbon driveshaft is a modern technology that enhances the feelings. 

It's a must have on a sorted car.

You can get it year long here, and I usually organize winter group buys for it. 

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