Yes, I converted my F1 575 to a gated, three-pedal manual

Discussion in '456/550/575' started by Soren, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. Soren

    Soren Karting

    Jul 13, 2011
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Bryce Anderson
    I’d been planning on converting a 575 since selling my 550.

    The investment in time, money, and effort has been significant.

    The reasons I have not yet done shared the details of the project are varied, but primarily, it’s been the sheer amount of work invested in the project, the amount of time it would take to document it fully, and the responses I’ve read in other manual conversion threads, such as for the 360 models.

    My 550 dashboard removal thread took me several days to prepare and post, and this would be more involved. At some point I will share the details of the modification (and hopefully soon, depending on my workload from my consulting business).

    For now, here is what I feel comfortable in sharing:

    1. Yes, it’s possible to convert an F1 575M to a gated, three-pedal manual 575M.
    2. There will be no diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) or Check Engine Light (CEL) if the conversion is done properly.
    3. The car will run and drive exactly as an OEM 550 or gated 575 would drive.
    4. The converted clutch actuation and the shift feel will be better than an OEM 550 or gated 575M. This is not hyperbole; there are objective reasons for this. This has been confirmed by some very experienced Ferrari technicians.
    5. The car will pass emissions. Mine passed the Georgia emissions test last week with flying colors.
    6. The OEM F1 Bosch Motronic ECUs can not be used as programmed from the factory. Believe me, I tested this extensively. It was my hope that other conversions would be able to use the OEM F1 ECUs. But the silver lining is that your OEM F1 ECUs *might* be able to be reprogrammed with the specific Bosch Motronic manual ECU software to enable a successful conversion. I’m still researching this.
    7. While it is possible to re-create an OEM gated manual transmission car, and I might well turn mine into one, it is easier and less expensive to convert an F1 575M to a gated manual three-pedal without duplicating the OEM methodology. In this case, an owner can leave their F1 system on the car and have the ability to swap back in less than a day.
    8. I’m working on creating a kit that will allow a 575 owner to convert their car to a gated manual. The parts list by itself is very extensive. There are also many parts that are NLA from Ferrari. This necessitates maintaining a vigilant eBay watch for the requisite parts, and hoping the parts that are purchased are actually what are needed (I have a small storeroom of parts that should have been what were needed, but did not work properly for one reason or another). The other alternative is to fabricate the necessary NLA parts, which I have taken steps to pursue both from a traditional manufacturing approach (subtractive manufacturing, such as machining) and additive (such as 3D printing with sintered metal).

    My ultimate goal is to provide the information necessary to convert an F1 575M to a gated manual 575M.

    I’ll be sharing this information at a later point, after the NLA part production has been solidified. I’d also like to offer a complete conversion kit, as well as providing the complete conversion service. I have no idea what to charge for such a service.

    To those of you who would be interested in converting your own cars, please reply to this thread and let me know your thoughts on how you would feel some sort of compensation would be fair. It occurred to me try a Kickstarter-type project, but I knew that I was going to go through with it for myself, so the investment on my part to see the project through to fruition was a given. As I mentioned, I will be posting the details later to help those of you who would like to undertake this project yourselves. My interest is to keep these cars running as long as we (and hopefully future yet-to-be owners) are willing to drive them. But if you have some ideas on how to help me at least recoup the time and money I’ve invested in the project, I'd appreciate hearing them.

    Before anyone starts screaming capitalist epithets at me, I would like to point out that no one is going to get rich off of any manual conversion kit for our cars. The OEM take rate for a gated 575 was less than 12% (Terry, correct me if I’m mistaken on that), and I don’t believe most 575M owners would actually commit to the cost of converting their cars to a stick-and-clutch operating system.

    There is a reason for this. The clutch on a 550 Maranello or a gated 575M is not for the faint-hearted. There is no lever arm or clutch fork to multiply your quadriceps’ effort in pulling the pressure plate off the clutch face. There is only hydraulic fluid flowing through tiny tubes, through a flange, and into the throwout bearing. This is a different experience from driving a manual transmission in a Honda or Corvette or Porsche.

    When I let people drive my old 550 Maranello, and this includes people who owned and drove manual transmission vehicles from other manufacturers, the first response from pressing the clutch pedal was something between a gasp and a curse. My friend Jon, who opened my eyes to the engineering acumen of Porsche engineers when he let me borrow his manual 997 911 turbo for a month, summed it up concisely when I let him drive in my 550 Maranello: “Why does your car have two brake pedals?”

    There is a way to make the clutch effort significantly smoother and easier, and I’ll detail it later.

    The other part of the equation is the actual shift ‘feel’. My 1992 Corvette that I bought wrecked with 15k miles on it and repaired to use as a commuter car in college had a ZF six-speed transmission that shifted very, very smoothly. I taught many novices without any mechanical inclination at all how to drive a manual on that car, and it still shifted like glass and had the original clutch at 140,000 miles.

    The Graziano box is not so smooth. Of course there are reasons for that, and I know that many people will disagree and come to the defense of Graziano and Ferrari, and I understand that. I’m not being disloyal, and I’m not being disparaging. I am attempting to be objective.

    Having now had a cumulative 20,000 miles worth of experience between driving a gated manual 550 Maranello and an F1 575M, I can understand why the F1 system was developed. I can also understand why it was so popular with new car buyers. Remember back in the beginning of this post, when I said I’d been planning on converting a 575 to a gated shifter car after selling my 550? I’ve had the parts and the ability to do it for the past year, but I didn’t actually commit to doing so until this past November, a full year after I’d been driving my car. The reason is simply that the F1 system in the 575 is good. It’s not as quick or advanced or smooth as a Porsche PDK, but it is enjoyable to use, it works as intended, and it was fun to learn how to interact with it.

    And that, I think, is the key: you can’t hop in an older single-clutch F1-transmission car of any manufacturer and expect it to be like a current-day dual clutch. You must remember that it’s still a single clutch that is interrupting the delivery of power by being mechanically pushed and pulled by a hydraulic actuator. The intrinsic joy that comes from such a device is learning the skill to actuate that device, not from the lap times or shift times that such a device purportedly offers. There will always be something better, faster and stronger coming up next.

    Personally, I love shifting gears for myself. The clutch effort on my 550 never bothered me during the 12,000 or so miles I drove it, even in Atlanta’s notorious and frequent stop-and-go traffic. Similarly, the slightly-reduced clutch effort of my 575M thankfully doesn’t trouble me at all at this point in my life.

    I love the feeling of being the intermediary control between the creation of the power from the V-12 engine and the distribution of that power to the rear wheels. I love feeling the clutch release, and I delight in the exact moment that I match the engine RPM to the spinning disc and seamlessly transfer power and rotational momentum to the rear wheels. I love the feeling of those hair-breadth engagements from matching rotational velocities that allow me to shift smoother than any automatic transmission I’ve ever driven, including the Porsche’s doppelkupplungsgetriebe. And I love the clicking and clacking of the shifter rod as I work it through the gate.

    There’s a romance between the interface of the human and the machine that reaches me, and I’m grateful for being able to experience it. I also believe that other 575 owners should be able to experience it. And they should experience it without spending $400,000 or more.

    I hope this has answered some questions that have been asked in other threads where I’ve mentioned my car. I’ve felt bad for their original threads derailing into discussions about my own car when I’ve posted a response, and I hope that no one took my silence to some inquiries as aloof disinterest. It was not.

    Some of the other comments were also about my interior, which is no longer stock. Purists look away- I swapped out portions of my 575M’s blu scuro interior with a cuoio interior from a Swedish 550 Maranello that I purchased from Erik Eriksen (F456M here on F-chat, and a wonderful person with whom to do business).

    The lack of center console storage space also was a bother. There is a lot of empty space in that center console, so I fabricated some aluminum panels to take advantage of that storage space and covered them in some leather that pair well with the OEM cuoio color. My TPMS display fits in there well, and there’s plenty of room for other things as well. I even fabricated a stainless steel cover reminiscent of the older ashtray cover from the mid-60’s Ferraris to cover the big space that used to be occupied by the OEM black ashtray. It works spectacularly well as a cup holder too, which I’m sure might cause some grave rolling somewhere.

    It’s a personal preference, but I have an affinity for the 550 Maranello door panels, quilted rear shelf, and non-Daytona seats. However, I prefer the dash and binnacle from the 575M. Love it or hate it, the end result is something that I like. The switches on the door panel aren’t for the windows; that’s the control for the power mirrors, which I had to relocate from the 575M’s interior door handle mechanism. It required some fabrication work, but I’m happy with the result.

    In fact, so far, I’m happy with the entire car. I made it into the car I wish I could have purchased brand new. It isn’t new, but I tell myself it doesn’t matter, and even if I couldn’t afford it then, at least I’m working to make it better.

    If there are any owners out there who would be interested in converting their car to a manual, have patience. I’m working on a way to help you do it.
  2. forzatifosi

    forzatifosi Karting

    Aug 30, 2009
    Milwaukee, Orlando, San Francisco
    Full Name:
    would love to see some photos
  3. mchas

    mchas F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 5, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Full Name:
    Great post! The market clearly indicates that people value the manual experience, and if Ferrari is unwilling to cater to that demand any longer, it only makes sense for others to step in. I hope you are very successful at finding/making the necessary parts because there is definitely enough demand!

    Oh and pictures please!
  4. MogulBoy

    MogulBoy Formula Junior

    Sep 23, 2004
    #4 MogulBoy, Feb 10, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
    I'm intrigued as I have long been convinced that the conversion process should be straightforward on the assumption that the requisite parts could be sourced/replicated but I'm slightly confused by your points 3 and 4...

    A manual 550 will surely drive 'differently' from a manual 575M not least because the 'box on the later car has triple-cone synchros on 1st and 2nd...

    Are you in a position to elaborate on point 4 or are you simply referring to the synchros?

    I wish you good luck with your project.

    P.S. Have you noticed that the gear selector (or F1 control lever) on LHD Maranello's is located on the left hand side of the transmission tunnel whereas on RHD examples, it is centrally located (and not located on the right hand side of the transmission tunnel). And on RHD manuals, the gear stick itself is bent to the right - so that the knob is closer to the driver? I guess this means that anyone sourcing hardware for a RHD conversion should really source hardware that is suitable for a RHD application.
  5. tres55

    tres55 Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Sep 18, 2012
    It's great that you've gone through the effort and figured it out, but aren't 575M F1 prices about the same as 550Ms?

    At that point, why not just sell one for the other and retain something that's factory original? I doubt anyone here is actually going to miss or notice the few HP drop.
  6. Redneck Slim

    Redneck Slim Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Mar 10, 2011
    Palo Alto,CA,USA
    Full Name:
    Walt Kimball
    Outstanding post. Keep the information coming.
  7. crinoid

    crinoid F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Apr 2, 2005
    Full Name:
    Bryce, This is fantastic. You are really bonding with your machine. Love it. Pics please!
  8. sdematt

    sdematt Karting

    Nov 16, 2015
    Vancouver, Canada
    Full Name:
    Pics when you can!
  9. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
    Owner Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 19, 2008
    Clarksville, Tennessee
    Full Name:
    Terry H Phillips
    Bryce- Normally, when a 550 or 575M clutch gets stiff (same clutch, obviously), it means the clutch is getting towards the end of life and the geometry of the annular throw-out bearing is less than optimal. For F1 cars, 800-900 psi of hydraulic pressure does not care, but for three pedals, it can be felt.
  10. Themaven

    Themaven F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 2, 2014
    Full Name:
    Sounds like an amazing project, awesome insights, and a great elaboration on what makes the gated experience special.

    With regard to weight of clutch/shifter, for me, working the clutch and the gearlever on my 550 and 575 is a fundamental part of the experience. I just wouldn't want them to be like my Porsche turbo, so light you forget, flick-flick. It's the like the very deliberate feel of pulling the crown out or clicking the chronometer button on a good mechanical watch. Cheap ones do it quicker and easier, but lack the haptics.

    I am lucky enough to have (effectively) three generations of manual Ferrari: a F512M, the Maranellos, and the 430. The F512M is just a little too obstructive for me through the gates, even when warm. The 430s are much easier to shift than the Maranellos, Fabio the Inexplicably Banned User told me they are spring-loaded - a bit too easy. The Maranellos are just right, and the 575 seems more just righter than the 550, although I appreciate individual cars also vary. And the clutches are perfect, that wonderful feel, as you say.

    Look forward to hearing more about your car. Thank you.
  11. Simon1965

    Simon1965 Karting

    Feb 8, 2011
    Full Name:
    As the owner of a 550 I have always wondered why people elected to by an F1 5757. Back in 2007 when I was looking to buy my 550 I test drove a number of manual 550 and 575 and auto 575 cars and it was obvious that the manual was a more interesting car. So I ended up with my 550 and I plan to keep her forever and pass her on to my son (who is only 6 months only right now)
    wbklink and F456M like this.
  12. Konadog06

    Konadog06 Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 22, 2007
    Daytona Beach, Florida
    Full Name:
    Bryce, enjoyed the read. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.
    Well done!
  13. GTS Bruce

    GTS Bruce Pisses in your Cheerios

    Oct 10, 2012
    Orchard Park NY
    Full Name:
    Bruce Roche
    Interesting exercise. Once you get used to the amazing engineering of the F1 transmission most drivers would be as likely to switch back as to remove the engine and hook up an ox and a yoke to the car.There are plenty of ox carts out there using a 3 pedal manual transmission. Personally I'm partial to the Morgan 3 wheeler. Great fun for probably a 20 minute drive. GTS Bruce
  14. Cribbj

    Cribbj Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jan 1, 2011
    Full Name:
    #14 Cribbj, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
    Bryce, what a great thread, just like your dash thread! Looking forward to future installments and discussions.

    I think our clutches could be made a lot more user friendly if someone like OZ would come up with a dual disc, carbon/carbon clutch, and retune the hydraulic ratios.

    I have their triple disc metallic lined clutch in my 550, and the effort is quite a bit less than the single disc organic, but it's really a racing clutch, so it doesn't like stop & go traffic at all...... If I can't convert or modify it to something more slippable, then I'll be going back to a full face organic.

    Sorry for the partial thread drift :)
  15. flat_plane_eddie

    flat_plane_eddie F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Mar 30, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Full Name:
    Congrats on achieving this as it's no easy task...and yes pics please!
  16. dsd

    dsd F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Nov 19, 2006
    Northern Virginia
    Glad you're happy with the results. As the owner of a factory 3 pedal, it really is a great combo.

  17. craterface

    craterface Formula Junior

    Apr 14, 2011
    Sanibel Island, FL
    Loved the 550 dash removal thread...
    What's your day job?
    Looking forward to more info, although I have a 550. Just fascinating stuff.
  18. Soren

    Soren Karting

    Jul 13, 2011
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Bryce Anderson
    First, thank you all so much for the positive responses. There are a lot of comments to address, and I’ll do my best to touch on them, including posting some photographs.

    First, though, let me address some questions received off-forum and in PMs.

    1. The 575 transmission does not need to be replaced with a 550 transmission. This has been stated elsewhere on F-chat, but there is a persistent rumor that the 575 transmission needs to be replaced. No, it does not. Do not listen to someone telling you that a 550 transmission is required for a manual 575 conversion. It is not true.

    2. The instrument cluster does not need to be replaced. The same instrument cluster was used by Ferrari for both F1 and gated manual cars. This seems to be a persistent rumor as well. The instrument cluster does need to be reprogrammed. This is easily performed by any dealer with an SDX, because when an instrument cluster does fail and require replacement, it is necessary to program the new unit to the specific 575M being repaired (i.e., F1 or gated manual).

    3. Yes, there is a composite panel (fiberglass reinforced polymer) bolted to the floorpan above the driveshaft. No, this does not need to be replaced with the non-F1 panel that has a pass-through for the shifter rod. It can be cleanly traced and cut in place.

    4. No, a manual conversion will not affect the ABS/ASR ECU if the conversion is done properly. I would never advocate ever disabling the ABS/ASR function.

    5. No, the Bosch Motronic ECUs from a 550 will not function in a 575M. Either new ECUs programmed for a manual 575M must be obtained or the existing F1 ECUs might be reprogrammed with the gated manual software.
  19. Soren

    Soren Karting

    Jul 13, 2011
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Bryce Anderson
    Now, on to the specific questions that I could identify in the responses.

    1. Mogulboy, it’s a combination of both points, and you are correct. It appears that the improved shift feel is from the improved internals on the 575M transmission. It’s the only 575M transmission I’ve ever shifted manually, but it’s noticeably smoother than the 550s I’ve driven. The clutch actuation is a separate issue, and it is much smoother because of some improvements I incorporated into the system.

    It’s not my intent to be cagey about limiting the information here; the modifications I’ve made need to be thoroughly tested before I feel comfortable sharing them with others. The primary reason for my reluctance is safety. One of my colleagues (we’re both in the forensic reconstruction field) had a case in which a clutch failed on a class 8 tractor. The operator was stopped, waiting for a pedestrian to pass in front of his truck, and he had the transmission in first gear with his foot on the clutch. The clutch failed and the tractor lurched forward, knocking the pedestrian down and killing them.

    Our cars don’t weigh 15k pounds, but they do make enough power to give the car a good lurch forward if the clutch fails, and yes, someone could get hurt or killed by that. I’ve seen worse from much less. I want to be as certain as possible that everything I’ve done to my car, and then later share with others, is safe and tested.

    2. Again, you’re correct about the RHD shifter. That placement and orientation is caused by the sideplate housing on the transmission that contains the shifting mechanism for changing gears. It’s on the left side of the transmission. That placement allows the shaft that connects the sideplate to the shifter a straight shot in the LHD cars, but for RHD cars, Ferrari would have need to make an offset shift rod. They didn’t. So they moved the shifter housing and gate as far to the right as they could. However, with the exception of the center console, I suspect that the parts between the two are the same (checking the parts catalog would confirm this). And modifying the center console wouldn’t be difficult. You could likely even fabricate an offset shifter shaft to bring the housing even further to the right, but that would be more involved.

    3. Tres55, the prices are not the issue. The 550 is a wonderful car, and it’s serviceable for nearly every type of owner in every reasonable climate…except for me in the deep south. The main problem was the return-type fuel system and the cooling system. My usage of the car simply exceeded the design parameters. So far, the 575M has been much more suitable to my driving needs.

    4. Walt, LaCrinoid, Matt, Bill, Eddie, dsd, and Scott, thanks so much for the positive words. You’re all very kind. It’s nice to hear positive support. My day job is forensic consulting, mainly using engineering mechanics to reconstruct MVA (cars, trucks, trains) crashes at a high level, and reconstruct the final moments in which serious injuries and deaths occurred to the occupants involved, and then testify about it. It’s not being shot at, but it is stressful and somber work. There are images in my head that I wish were not there. The cars are fun and help me deal with the work. Negative reactions, if they came up, would be more than I care to deal with. Thanks again for being so positive and receptive. It means a lot to me.

    5. Terry, that’s my understanding as well. I did test drive a high-mileage 550 that had higher clutch effort than my 550 did, and it was interesting to feel the difference. In this 575M application, I’ve not changed anything in the overall geometry, but I have cleaned up the frictional elements and optimized the operation the way the system was designed. It’s still 100% Ferrari, but I’ve made it function like it should have from the factory. I thought the reduced effort and smoother operation might have been a placebo effect, since it has been a while since I’ve driven a 550, but several knowledgeable people have independently commented on it. It’s not a huge difference- no one is going to mistake the car for a Porsche- but it does make it easier to moderate the engagement. And 900 psi is like a 900-lb gorilla, for certain. If it wants something moved, it’s going to get moved.

    6. Darius, thanks for the kind words. I’ve never driven the rear-engine flat-12s, but your insight is illuminating. The 550/575M shifter mechanism is spring-loaded also, but it might be a different setup than the 430. Regarding the effort and feel of the clutch and shifter, I can understand and empathize with your affinity for the characteristic Ferrari feel. A friend of mine who drives a manual Honda was surprised at how two manual transmission could be so different. I told her that some people like that, because it’s part of the Ferrari experience. She responded that some people also like slaughtering their own hogs for breakfast for a true southern experience. I get her point. But that’s why we’re here on this forum. The previous points have expounded on that a bit, though; the parts are still OEM, but I’ve made the system operate in an optimized fashion, so to speak.

    7. Simon, I think your words are a perfect example of why the 550 is a fantastic car. However, new Ferrari buyers are not necessarily enthusiastic Ferrari drivers, and I think that accounts for much of the 575M F1 take rate. Also, in your application, the 550 seems to work wonderfully well. In mine, it wasn’t an optimum union.

    8. Bruce, I can understand why you would feel that way, but for others, the interaction of the machine and operator is special. It’s never felt like an ox cart to me. My long-term concern is that ICE cars become like typewriters to the upcoming generations. They’re mechanically complex, they require maintenance, they require consumables, and they require skill to operate. A PC or Mac requires an electrical outlet and an internet connection. No one hardly remembers an IBM Selectric anymore.

    9. JOHN!!! It’s great to hear from you, brother! No worries on drifting the thread, or even my car. I can’t wait to see your 550 when it’s done. So are you thinking of going back to an OEM Valeo organic clutch in yours?

    Okay, now for some photos, if the forum cooperates.
  20. Soren

    Soren Karting

    Jul 13, 2011
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Bryce Anderson
  21. Soren

    Soren Karting

    Jul 13, 2011
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Bryce Anderson

Share This Page