Three Pedal Conversion Cookbook

I’ll state the obvious. If you are thinking about transmogrifying your MCS automatic into a manual, you are most likely INSANE. Certifiable. Seek help. Seriously. The only rational way to do this, is to sell your car, and buy a different car with the right transmission.

If you are still reading, then you’re INSANE. But you may be in a position like me, where you are pathologically and incurably addicted to a very specific MINI, or you’ve invested in making your Mini one-of-a-kind, and it’s just not practical to either sell it, or start over from scratch. So, onward with the conversion.

First, if you’re planning to do an MCS auto-to-manual conversion, good luck finding info. The Justacooper CVT-to-manual conversion is a pretty well known process. But the MCS is a different beast. Because the Aisin is much fatter than the CVT or the manual 6 speed, Mini shifted the engine over to the right about 5/8″ (if memory serves). And that meant replacing a lot of parts.

You can fire up RealOEM for your car, and then browse all the categories to see where different parts are listed for the Automatic. They include (not a complete list):
* Clutch and all related hardware and hydraulics.
* brake and clutch pedal assembly
* shifter assembly and cables
* both axles
* engine and transmission mounts
* exhaust manifold / catalytic converter (header)
* supercharger inlet duct
* throttle mounting bracket
* brake booster vacuum line
* fuel tank breather line
* main air intake hose
* plastic airbox snorkel
* heater / heat exchanger hose assembly and various related parts
* engine oil heat exchanger and related hard lines
* radiator coolant hoses
* lots of related hardware
* ECU coding

While you could certainly figure out all the parts and buy them new, it really isn’t cost-effective. The most rational way to do this very irrational thing, is to buy a parts car. Then you can park them side-by-side and move stuff over as needed to make it work. You might even consider moving an entire engine-and-transmission from the donor car to your car, if you happen to find a good one with significantly fewer miles on it.

So that’s what I did – bought a donor car. At a minimum, I recommend installing a new clutch while you’re at it, along with new seals. And replace the bushings, etc. on the clutch control assembly. And a new slave cylinder.

In my case, instead of trying to reprogram the automatic ECU, I will use the ECU, EWS (immobilizer) keys and ignition cylinder from the donor car, but use the BC1 (General Body Control Module) from my convertible, because it contains controls for the rear windows, the top interface, etc. that aren’t in the hardtop’s BC1. I’ll re-initialize the keys from the donor car to remote open the doors on the convertible.

If I’m successful, this will actually be less expensive than buying a remanufactured automatic transmission and torque converter. But will be covering some uncharted territory, so there will be some figuring-it-out to be done. YOLO.

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