Like Clockwork

Transmissions remind me of a fine timepiece – just as complex, except larger.

The mystery surrounding how a transmission is assembled usually keeps people away from gearing changes – however this is where some of the best magic happens on the MINI.

After much research and phone calls across the pond a shorter final drive and layshaft shaft set was sourced from a company in the United Kingdom, the Toucan’s birthplace.

Only good things come from a company with a beagle as their logo.

Aside from being shorter gearing, the was also straight cut for both strength and that classic race-car style transmission whine.

(straight-cut on top, OEM helical cut on the bottom)

Some things are best left to experts in their field so we disassembled as much of the gearbox as we could and left it with Johan at Trust Transmission in Kitchener, Ontario.

Johan worked alongside Getrag in Germany (the manufacture of the MINI gearbox) and is an expert at what he does and also has a MINI himself. Getrag does not produce repair items for this gearbox which meant the smallest mistake could turn it into a heavy paper-weight.

The empty 4L jug of Carlos Rose by the workbench is how I knew he was legit.

The gear-set was removed from the OEM mainshafts and transplanted onto the shorter geared British units.

Like a fine watch, after re-assembly it spun beautifully. Johan also repaired the syncos, smoothed the shift-forks, and refurbished the shift linkage mechanism.


The MINI uses an unconventional layout for it’s gearbox. The layshaft is split in two to allow the box to be smaller to fit in a tighter area.

1-2-5-6th gear are on one shaft, with 3-4-Reverse on the other. The crown gear on the differential sits in between these and outputs to the driveshafts, and on the other side sits the input shaft which sends the power from the engine to the transmission.

The final result is a car that runs through it’s gearing quicker.

Although the drop in RPM between each gear is unchanged – the maximum speed in each gear is shortened giving better torque multiplication and faster acceleration in exchange for top end speed.

Way more fun!

Fingers crossed it makes the Toucan sound similar to this :D