E46 BMW M3 CSL – New conversion kit adds manual gearbox

Owners of the rare lightweight coupe can now swap original SMG automatic for six-speed manual

UK-based BMW specialist Everything M3s has launched a manual gearbox conversion kit for the E46 M3 CSL, replacing the much-maligned SMG automatic system with a six-speed shifter.

The CSL (Coupé Sport Lightweight) was a limited edition version of the third-generation M3, which shed 110kg over the standard car with the use of plastic and carbonfibre body panels, a fibre-board boot floor, reduced sound insulation and reduced interior equipment.

It’s commonly regarded as one of the most capable sports cars BMW has ever produced, but hampered by the poor performance of its six-speed SMG automatic gearbox.

Everything M3s’ conversion kit – which we tested last year (watch the video below) – replaces the electrohydraulic system with the standard M3’s more conventional six-speed manual ‘box and clutch set-up.

Using 180 genuine BMW parts, the Banbury firm can swap over the two systems and recode the car’s engine management system in “a matter of days”. It claims the entire process is reversible, and gives the original components back to the customer to allow for restoration to the factory-fitted SMG system.

Prices for the conversion begin at £3500 (AUD$6,370 excluding import duties), and although just 1383 CSLs were produced in 2004, Everything M3s claims to already have a waiting list.

The firm’s founder Darragh Doyle, an ex-Formula 1 mechanic, said: “While we appreciate every iteration of M3, I was annoyed that the CSL – in my opinion the best of the best – never had a manual gearbox, so I decided to engineer my own.

“It is easier to live with in traffic and around town, while giving total control on a racetrack. A manual M3 CSL is the car that BMW should have always built.”

Felix Page

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