I finally got around to installing the CravenSpeed Adjustable Short Shifter and Shift Knob in the MINI this weekend. It’s not a hard DIY project if you have a lift so you can drop the exhaust — which I don’t. This post offers some tips if you’re thinking about taking on this project armed only with jack-stands. CravenSpeed has a thorough set of instructions, read it thoroughly before you begin. Here are some tips if trying it the hard way:
- You don’t have to drop the exhaust (but it does make the job easier). You will have to drop the center support to get the heat shield out of the way. There’s an extra screw all the way at the front of the tunnel that needs to be removed. You can’t see it from below the shifter.
- You won’t be able to completely remove the shifter with the exhaust in the way, so don’t try. This also means you won’t easily be able to install the aluminum bushings either, but in my 2006 model car they didn’t need replacement.
- Since you won’t be reinstalling the bottom cover, don’t bother to try to remove it without breaking the tabs, just break them all and save your fingernails. (I didn’t want to leave it open so I made a soft cover out of duct tape and flexible heat shielding.)
- If you are having trouble getting the cable to release from the lower ball joint, try using a set of small vice-grips instead of a wrench as shown in the instructions. Pull down at a diagonal, it will just pop off. If you are using a lot of pressure, then you’re doing it wrong.
- The most frustrating part is trying to pry all three tabs of the white retainer at the same time. Just be patient and pull up with even pressure.
Having an adjustable shifter is a nice feature, but not the main reason I installed it. The CravenSpeed shifter also angles back a little bit toward the knob. This slight bend places the knob about an inch closer to the driver, reducing the reach for fifth gear. The other thing we did at the same time was swap out the stock shift knob. I always loved the look, but it was freezing cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The CravenSpeed Knob is made from Delrin so it stays cool in the summer and won’t freeze your hand in the winter. If you want to use this knob with the Gen 1 short shifter, you need to also request a special adapter when your order it.