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Thread: New ZHP and first manual transmission car

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    15

    New ZHP and first manual transmission car

    Hi all,

    Im 28, from NYC but just moved to northern NJ. I just purchased a 2004 black on tan ZHP, slick top, 4 door, 6 speed. 191k miles with 2 owners. Definitely needs some work but I wanted something that I had to work on. I have always been into cars but having grown up in NYC it was extremely anti-car. Grew up poor and my parents could never afford a car, got one when I was in my 20s, a 2004 Audi A4 with the 3.0 V6 (auto), but eventually the street parking drove me crazy and I sold it.

    I've always wanted to learn manual and learn to DIY on my own car, I'm not getting any younger so decided to leave the city and move to a place with a garage where I can keep it/work on it. Joined the forum to ask any DIY questions and hopefully link up with any members in the area who could show me a thing or two. Willing to shut up and listen.

    I do have a question though, for those who learned manual after automatic, when did it click for you and become 'fun'? I just got the car and have maybe driven it a dozen times, but hill starts and starting from first/going slow still feel awkward, I still have to look down sometimes to know what gear I'm in and shifting smoothly/rev matching is pretty difficult. It just sort of feels like work and like I don't know how to drive haha. Especially in NJ traffic where everyone is mashing the gas in their 300+ HP SUVs, and they all want to slam their brakes and ride your bumper in stop-and-go traffic. I would love to get to the point where I'm rev matching every downshift and can pull away from first quickly, but driving manual just sort of gives me anxiety.

    I do find the throw of the clutch unnecessarily long, so I ordered a clutch stop, will be doing a CDV delete, and I am also trying the mason engineering short throw clutch pedal.

    I know it's early and I'm going to stick with it but just wondering when it clicked for anyone here.


    REF

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    6,692
    Welcome, man. You will love this forum. I learned how to drive on a car with MT. Let's see what others say about your question.

    Please post pics of your ZHP when you have a free minute.
    2005 IR / black / 6MT
    152,000 miles

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Englewood, NJ
    Posts
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by fredo View Post
    Welcome, man. You will love this forum. I learned how to drive on a car with MT. Let's see what others say about your question.

    Please post pics of your ZHP when you have a free minute.
    Thank you! Here a few images I have





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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    6,692
    Quote Originally Posted by REF84 View Post
    Thank you! Here a few images I have
    2005 IR / black / 6MT
    152,000 miles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Toronto, ON
    Posts
    999
    Yeah, I had about an hour of manual driving before I got mine because back in highschool I wanted to drive manual so badly that I paid a "manual driving school" $50 to try.

    Honestly the ZHP isn't too bad - I didn't really stall, but was definitely hesitant at downshifting/rev-matching at first. So much so that I'd bog the engine down in gears higher than what was ideal. I also feel you with starting off, I was definitely slower with engaging the clutch and took a bit of time to set off at lights.

    It'll just take time, and at least for me it's never perfect - I still get a rev-match once in a while that is ever so slightly off and the car jerks just a little, but overall it's quite fun and I love rev-match downshifting instead of using the brakes.
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    15,931
    I would say do not worry about getting any sort of mods regarding the clutch pedal or shifter. Get used to the stock stuff first. All that will come with time and practice and you'll get so used to it you won't even think twice about it. It does take time and regular practice.

    Also, do not worry about rev-matching. For a beginning manual driver, that is the last thing you should worry about. It isn't necessary in these cars, even though it is fun and has benefits, but for now, just get used to starting off in first gear and hills.

    You're not that far. I'm happy to help you refine and develop some skills if you'd like. I've taught several people how to drive manual and can show you some tricks, since we have the "same" car.
    BP
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun



    It's not the car you drive, it's how you drive it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    9,950


    The car looks great, and I'm loving that you're planning to wrench on it yourself! The E46 platform is so ubiquitous that there are basically DIY guides for everything, and there's at least one member on here that is active that has done one of those maintenance items, so you're in good hands.

    Re: learning a manual transmission - I learned on manual transmissions when I got my learner's permit so I can't help you from that perspective. As a painful refrain like everyone else around here: it takes time. You said you've only taking it out for a spin about a dozen occasions and that really isn't that much experience.

    Some tips that might help you:
    Learn where the clutch engages. Go to a parking lot that's flat or has a very small uphill grade and just use the clutch to hold the car or get the car going without using the gas pedal. Repeat this multiple times, decreasing the time from when you let off the brake to when you hold/get the car moving, to get a feel for the clutch engagement point.
    Sit in the car for five minutes and row the gears. Get familiar with the position of each gear. Do this a couple of times until it's more muscle memory.

    The other stuff will just come with experience. Knowing the clutch engagement point, what gear your in, where to move the shift lever, etc all becomes second nature with enough seat time. Shifting smoothly is a life-long pursuit. The 1-2 shift is still the hardest for me and I'll flub it from time to time. I think it's down to the difference in revs vs. wheel speed so the margin of error is smaller compared to other gear shifts (I'm probably talking nonsense, but it's what I tell myself).

    Also, driving a stick in stop-start traffic is work. It's not fun. If that's what I found myself driving in 95% of the time, I'd get sick of it too. But I specifically search out less crowded roads if I have to drive during rush hour, even if it'll add 10-15 mins of the commute.

    As for the long shifter throws and long clutch pedal - yeah, you can change them. I left my clutch pedal alone aside from a CDV delete, but I got a short shifter from UUC. Short shifters are a must, IMO, but some people would argue otherwise. Your shifter could probably benefit from new shims at the very least, they've got some serious wear at your mileage which would clean up a lot of slop if present.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    North New Jersey
    Posts
    12
    Congrats on the purchase of your ZHP, I happen to also live in north NJ and learned how to drive manual in my ZHP I picked up in march. Best advice that I can give is that don't worry about the aggressive ass drivers that we live with. The amount of times I stalled in the first week and "held up" traffic ive learned to ignore them and just focus on myself and my driving. The clutch pedal is a bit long i agree but like others have stated I would just get used to the car how she is and then decide if you wanna add to make the experience "better" by all means do so. Either way you will have a great time and turn lots of heads. PM me if you ever need anything at all I'm only about 20 min out from you. Excited about another New Jersey ZHP
    owner!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    4,524
    Welcome to the mafia!
    Good answers about the clutch engagement point (leave parking brake on, don't push the accelerator and slowly release the clutch, you'll know when you hit it).
    Learned to clutch a vehicle on a 50 cc Yamaha Enduro in France in 1978-79 and I remember exactly where I was.
    325i, 2005, 5MT, Silvergrey, leatherette, Sport package; CDV delete, KONI STR-T & KYB Excel-G, Weisslichts, Stewart H2O pump

    328i, 2010, 6MT, Spacegrey, dakota leather, M-sport packages; has a 330 intake but no tune - yet
    http://s900.photobucket.com/user/othibau/media/Junesig.jpg.html][IMG]http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac208/othibau/Junesig.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    2,002
    Great intro/story and car, and of course, welcome to another NJ ZHP!

    How do you spell manual-shifting skill? T-I-M-E. You'll get there. Just keep driving, keep thinking about little improvements here and there, and before you know it, when you drive someone else's automatic car, you'll be pushing a non-existent clutch and trying to grab the auto-lever-thing.

    Before too long it becomes, ironically, an automatic process that your body just does. Kind of like playing an instrument or playing a sport. I've been driving manual transmission as my only option for 23 years, and there are still times when I grind a gear, stall, or fudge an up/downshift. That's part of what makes it fun.

    Like BP said, keep it simple for now and then try more difficult stuff later on. A good entry point into rev-matching is to do it without braking whenever a downshift is needed, say on the highway. This helps you just worry about getting the engine to the proper range for the lower gear, and it's a safe-ish way to practice since you're not braking.

    - mb
    - Marc

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