The gear lever seems like a fairly simple part in itself but it has kept us busy for hours.
From the beginning we were not super enthusiastic to put our – nice looking and far too expensive – Sadev shifter next to the vertical handbrake on the tunnel. Not that you will easily miss, but it is emotionally out of place there.
Given my karting past, I have always found the way of shifting gears with a kart very practical and efficient. So the idea of putting a short leg close to the steering wheel had been haunting my mind for a while. Mechanically, the use of rods is almost impossible due to the position and only a double cable system remains. But cables and electronics people don’t go well together, of course.
So I started looking for extra powerful solenoids. Not too easy turned out to be the case afterwards unless you practice a sport with 2 wheels. The power needed to reliably shift a gearbox of a car is fairly high so that there is very little usable available, unless you switch to a system on compressed air, but I don’t really like that.
But sometimes the solution is just hidden in a coincidence. During a worldwide conference where all my European colleagues were also present, there is of course regular fraternization at the bar in the evening.
Since men are generally only interested in 2 things, women and cars, my Italian colleagues asked about the status of our BMW project where I also explained my shifting problem. One of those Italians had just done a big project at Magneti Marelli and he knew a few people from the motorsport department quite well.
The result was that the next day he has already done the necessary phones and there is a perfect solution available off shelf.
At the beginning of November I already had all the technical details and in the course of the month of November I will know the price. So we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s the perfect solution for us. An additional advantage is that incorrect shifting – and therefore driving the engine into destructive speeds – is excluded. I think this is also a very nice side effect.
Furthermore, the shifting is of course faster than you can do manually (60 ms)