"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, money gets shifted: the RTD shifter got bolted & center'ed by InnovAuto and I finally got to fool around to get a feel for it, with video proof."
It's simpler than that.
On the Phoenix, the installation was completed as we put the powertrain back into the painted chassis. You don't need to go to this extent at all to perform this installation.
However, a lift and a friend are highly recommend as you need to reach into the transmission tunnel if it is still on the car.
The transmission was already out and the car already in pieces.
The shifter rod was left on the chassis with the transmission out. It was removed to install the RTD's shifter and DSSR.
With the car on a lift, you can easily access the transmission tunnel to bolt down the shifter through the chassis.
The entire OEM shifter assembly came out.
You can get a better sense why the shifter felt rubbery and plasticky as you inspect the OEM assembly.
The original, Genuine BMW DSSR is a kinky bastard.
What makes the RTD solution nice.
The RTD Motorsports shifter solution for the E46 M3 is a unique kit on the market due to 2 main features:
- No trimming to the center console.
- No drilling to the transmission tunnel.
These signature features were achieved by a design that does require a precise installation and alignment of the shifter.
BMW already had the chassis drilled with 3x holes - tadam! The RTD's shifter base has 3x slotted sections, 2x at the front, 1x at the back.
It's bolted in using the supplied hardware. The slotted gaps will be useful later on as we align the shifter.
No trimming? Ehh, depends.
The kit is advertised as no trimming to the center console - and that is very much true.
There is some trimming required to the rubber dust boot to fit over the RTD's shaft. The dust boot should be re-used on most applications.
It evidently keeps dust out - but also heat. Both can cause premature wear on your shifter assembly and make the yearly greasing requirements a more frequent occurrence.
There is zero trimming needed to the center console, nor the shifter's boot & bezel. I hadn't reinstalled the bezel as it's currently at Recovered for a custom boot upholstery.
It's a gated shifter, without the gate.
The RTD shifter solution is designed in such a way that it exclusively allows movement on the Y and X axis. There is no diagonal play like a regular BMW M rubbery shifter - this is very similar to a gated shifter ala Ferrari.
You want to go into 1st? You go left first, and then up.
This nearly eliminates money shifting - unless you miss first, push it furiously to the left and slam reverse. You'd have to be donkey kong to manage it - but please beware that is still a possibility similar to the OEM shifter.
They do make a lockout kit, but it is purely available on the aluminum shaft. I wanted the carbon aesthetics.
Beyond the aesthetics, I especially like the 360mm height of the shifter. It positions the delrin knob closer to the 3'o clock driving position of my right hand.
The baseline for adjusting the shifter is a straight line on the Y axis between 3rd gear, neutral and 4th gear.
Until you have perfectly achieved this, your installation is a no-go and you risk missing a gear, or breaking the DSSR.
It's recommended to refresh the transmission mounts while in there as well. Keep in mind the shaft will move with the transmission, while the shifter is bolted to the chassis. Excessive play is going to feel weird.
So, how does it feel? Like money.
The Phoenix being my only manual transmission BMW M at the moment: I wanted its penultimate representation - I feel like this is it.
I found few better way to humorously symbolize it than a reel beat matched to Pink Floyd's Money.
Up next: was this complete overkill on the street?
I'll record my driving impressions with a no frills, no music clip showing the true day to day usability of the shifter.
I've said my 420G felt like a bolt-action rifle before the RTD.
What will I come up with next?
There are levels to this.