So while driving home from work in traffic, I went to downshift from 4th gear to 3rd and to my shock, the shifter wouldn't budge! The transmission was stuck in 4th gear! Stopped the car and after a lot of effort I got the car into reverse then finally got into 1st. Went through the gears and again when I got to 4th, it got stuck. Luckily I was close to home so I limped the rest of the way on 3 forward gears. Yup this 4 speed has given up. So....
Time for that 5 speed install!
My philosophy on building a restomod is, "Drive it like you stole it and if something breaks, upgrade it!"
Years ago my buddy Le Tran was selling an E21 5 speed out of his personal 2002. I bought it so I could have a good Getrag 245 for that transmission swap. I have also been putting parts together for this job. I had the transmission support bracket, a shortened driveshaft, guibo, clutch slave cylinder and 5 speed speedo cable.
Part 1. Prep and Getting the car to Vintage BMW Racing in Long Beach.
I have been planning on Ken Blasko to do the swap and since this was unexpected I had to wait a few days for him to get a free lift in the shop. He needed access to the transmission tunnel so that meant removing the center console and removing the carpet on the transmission tunnel. Once the center console was gone it was time to clean up the rats nest of wires that are behind the center console.
It came time to deliver the car. Kens shop is about 30 miles from me. Should I risk it with 3 forward gears and reverse? What if something else goes? I played it safe. Called AAA for a tow. Since I gave the platinum package or whatever that is I get free towing up to 250 miles. So I loaded up the car with a 5 speed we in the trunk and a driveshaft and various bits in the car and had a flatbed tow it to Long Beach.
Part 2: The delivery
The trip was uneventful and I followed the tow truck in the Audi. What stood out is that this tow truck driver was able to get the car in and off the truck with zero scraping and without additional boards or ramps even for it being so low. When Ken got it he immediately rolled it onto the lift and began inspecting the parts as well as the car. Transmission was first. While I trust Le, it's been sitting for over 5 years and I think it was sitting a few years before I got it. He examined the input and output shafts and was pleased with them. Initial signs are good on this box! Driveshaft. That also checked out very good. He's gonna replace the center support bearing and have it balanced. Seemed the u joints were in pretty good shape. It's also the exact size needed for a 5 speed conversion. Nice again. The car looked good. The diff is spitting out fluid but we knew that. A rebuilt 3.64 LSD is waiting for me at Le's shop, 2002 Garagewerks. I could use a front wheel bearing and the drivers side motor mount support looks like it's starting develop a hairline crack. Other than those things, the car is in GREAT shape!!! Oh and looking at the stance while it was on the flatbed, the front ride height is PERFECT!!