"In this Special Series, I document my RTD short shifter experiences. I take you into my unboxing, the features that make it a proper BMW shifter solution, the install and my driving impressions - with videos to come.
In this entry, I unbox my set, chat specs and discuss what makes this special. It's the upgrade my dad disapproves it - let's convince him otherwise."
If you've been keeping up with the Restoration entries, you'll remember my intentions with the Phoenix's build is a car my dad and I will get to enjoy. This is the upgrade my dad vehemently disagrees with.
"You're building this amazing, beautiful car, and you'll slap that in the middle? Don't do they make shorter one?!""
Because race car, dad!
Since acquiring the Phoenix in late '21, I've barely been able to drive it. The little time I got to enjoy it in the Fall of '22, I immediately was impressed. The original driveline slop was mostly fixed during the mechanical refit and upgrade to the carbon driveshaft.
The combination of upgrades had my 420G feeling like a Springfield bolt action rifle [...] but I was still rowing through a rubbery stock shifter.
My exposure to drift.
Ever since meeting the guys at InnovAuto, I've been exposed to the drift scene. A group of no-fucks-given guys that just want to slide, sometimes with style. InnovAuto is unique to local scene as they bring around barely modified, stripped M cars to drift: M5 V10s, 1 Series with S65 mechanics - it works, and it's reliable.
As you may notice in the clip below, the 1 series S65 was fitted with a big stick'ed shifter solution. We often see those on race cars, or confuse them with e-brakes.
This is all about shifting gears, fast.
In late '22, I got a ride in the 1 series fitted with an S65. I ghetto-filmed my experiences here. I couldn't stop laughing all the way through.
The French connection.
InnovAuto is the Canadian distributor for RTD, a Lebanese outfit manufacturing shifter solution kits. RTD got recognized in 2016 for the development of a BMW-specific “Non-Locking Shifter. It's been their best selling product ever since.
Phil at Innov was adamant about fitting one to the Phoenix, he kept telling me there was no coming back from it. Fine, let's do it!
They RTD everything, including their former M5 V10 6spd swap.
Having zero experience with any of these shifter solutions, Phil was extremely helpful in helping spec the right kit for my intended use. He knows my tastes by now, and the little things that irks me.
I like proper carbon work, and an OE+ experience - for as much as this can be.
In Spring '22, Phil received a batch of shifters from Lebanon and rang me up saying a special delivery had arrived.
The kit came in pre-assembled and was sturdily packaged. We picked RTD's carbon tube in the "race" format. It's the lengthiest configuration available at 360mm. The shorter version is 300mm.
The finish is gloss, and it looks great. There were visual imperfection is noticeable except the obviously required seam - it's a tube, duh! The tube is hollow, and light - I was eager to see if the tube would feel solid when driven hard.
Phil highly recommended I opt for the Delrin knob over the CNC'ed anodized option. The Delrin does not conduct heat, and will remain comfortable to the touch in the Summer.
The shifters' base are from billet alumec89 alloy, fitted with bronze Bushing used sitting on a SS304 welded based. They are backed by a 1 year warranty.
The base shifter design is where the magic operates: the mounting base and DSSR are specific to each application enabling a tighter, OE+ package over other brands. No cutting to the original center console is required.
The shifter features a torsion spring that self-center the lever and gives the signature bolt action feel - while stopping you from money shifting the engine.
The notice is pretty clear: these require some form of upkeep. In similar fashion to spherical bearings in suspension arms - pop the booth and spray grease here from time to time.
The shifter base is designed to fit as a bolt-on upgrade to your 420G. See the slots? That's adjustment available for the bolts to initially center your shifter to the transmission.
The kit comes with the required hardware to install it; a few washers, bolts, and nuts - nothing fancy here.
Up next: it gets fitted!
We'll chat the little things that can make or break your installation of these shifter kits.
It won't get driven just yet, but at least we can get a feel, and hear the mechanism in a few videos I have planned.
Get on the list for RTD Shifter Solution kits for all BMWs here.