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BMW 323Ci Shifter Install

The MAX Power BMW 323Ci Gets a UUC Motorwerks Ultimate Shifter

Photography by Wes Allison, Yvonne Liu

Acceleration is limited by a car’s slowest part. That said, many people turn to the aid of short shifters to reduce throw times and increase the rate of acceleration, as stock shifters generally have long throws. The reason for the stock transmission’s long throw is simple: leverage. The longer the throw, the less force is required by the driver to shift gears. The willingness to give up a certain amount of leverage, however, will yield shorter shift times and increased acceleration.

A shifter is basically composed of three parts. The top portion, which protrudes from the console and into the driver’s compartment, is what supplies the leverage to the driver, allowing shifts with little effort. Below the top portion is a pivot point, where the shifter seats into the cradle. Below the pivot point is the last portion that connects to the linkage, and in turn, connects to the transmission and physically selects the desired gear when the shifter is moved.

One simple way of shortening shift distance is to reduce the length of the top portion of the shifter. The shortening of this part will decrease the throw distance, generally in the range of two percent, while increasing the needed shifting force due to reduced leverage. A more common and more effective method is to lengthen the distance of the shifter beneath the pivot point. Although this method also decreases leverage and requires more shifting force, shifter throw is massively reduced, sometimes as much as 50 percent, and makes this modification the most popular way of constructing short shifters.

Unfortunately, once the lower portion of the shifter is extended, the shift linkage that connects to the transmission is also lowered, sometimes misaligning gears. Knowing this, UUC Motorwerks took short shifters to another level by raising the shifter to align the linkage, while making sure the top portion remains at factory height. The end result is a shifter that requires more force, but retains the stock gear positioning for accurate shifts every time.

The beauty of UUC’s Street short-shifter kit is that the stock shift boot and knob can be retained for a stealth appearance. There are no additional vibrations, thanks to UUC’s one-piece shifter lever, and the only additional tools required to complete the modifications are jack stands and a flat-head screwdriver. Not being ones to tempt fate, we headed to Check Point Automotive in Los Angeles and had UUC’s Ultimate Street Shifter kit installed on a ’99 E-46 323Ci (Which, incidentally, you may recognize as our cover car from September 2000.—MAX).

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