As a driver’s car, the E46 BMW M3 CSL is largely considered to be the finest BMW ever made. However, with the CSL there’s always been something that made everything enthusiast say “it’s brilliant but…”. That something is its SMG gearbox. The six-speed, sequential automated manual gearbox in the M3 CSL was and still is its weakest link. But what if you could take that out and replace it with something better like, say, a manual? That’s exactly what this one owner did and Carfection got to drive it.

Continue Reading Below

In this new video, we get to see Carfection’s Henry Catchpole drive an E46 BMW M3 CSL with a manual gearbox. It’s essentially a unicorn because there may not be another proper CSL with a manual in the world. Despite almost all enthusiasts claiming it would have been better with a manual and wishing it were so, very few, in any, enthusiasts are willing to try and convert it. That’s because the CSL is extremely valuable and very rare. So no one wants to mess with it.

BMW E46 M3 CSL 20 750x500

This owner, however, decided to finally pull the trigger and have his high-mileage E46 BMW M3 CSL converted over to use a manual gearbox and it seems like the best move he could have made. For starters, his M3 has over 140,000 miles on it, so it’s not like it’s a mint-condition garage queen and was going to be worth six-figures. He also drives it all the time, every day, so it’s not as if it’s going to appreciate in value, either. That made his car the perfect CSL to convert.

He didn’t only have the gearbox converted but also the rear diff. He had the final drive changed, giving it better acceleration but lower top speed, giving the car a punchier feeling. The brave man to decided to undergo the actual conversion and diff replacement feels as if the new diff gearing is what the car should have come with from the beginnig.

The end result seems incredible and makes us think every E46 BMW M3 CSL should be converted. Check it out.