Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Shifter the MINI Cooper for Shifting Satisfaction

Short Shifter for Shifting Satisfaction
One of the most satisfying aspects of performance driving is to run the car up through the gears with a series of crisp flicks of the shift lever. In the stock MINI, the transmission and gear shift linkage are designed to make this process fairly seamless, but the “throws” — the distance the shift lever has to be moved between gears — are fairly long.
The problem here is that while you are moving the shift lever from one gear position to the next, you have to have the clutch pedal in and the clutch disengaged. That means that the car is simply coasting. And coasting means you’re wasting time.
If it was possible to shorten the distance that your hand has to move to shift gears, then the time lost coasting between gears would be reduced. And that means you can get back on the throttle sooner during each shift of gears. It also means that your “heel and toe” will work more effectively on downshifts, because there will be a shorter period of time between blipping the throttle and actually changing down into the next lower gear.
Reducing the shifter distance is a straightforward improvement, taking advantage of the principles of leverage. All that is required is installation of an extension on the lower end of the shift lever. This changes the leverage between the shift lever and the rod that connects it to the transmission, so that you don’t have to move your hand as far to make the gear change. This modified gear lever is often called a “short shifter.”
A “short shift kit” to make the change is available from aftermarket suppliers for approximately $90. This kit consists of the extension to the shift lever and a modified dust cover plate for the box that encloses the shift lever mechanism under the car.
Working underneath the car, the mechanic removes the original dust cover plate, disconnects the shift rod, adds the extension, makes some alterations to the shift lever case, and then installs the new dust cover plate. The mechanical work is not complicated, but it does involve raising the car, removing the exhaust system and modifying the the case. Most owner will prefer to leave the work to an experienced modification shop.

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