Thanks to xr4tic for his inspiration here
Crown Auto delivered on my expectations: delivery in less than 5 days and products in stock. Also received great customer service from JD who sent a follow up email to keep me in the loop. One item was missing from the package (1 circlip), wasn't a big deal as it costs $0.61. Plus, JD mailed me it so no big deal.
1 x 25117546373 Shift Lever
1 x 25111220600 Shift Bearing
4 x 25111220439 Yellow Washers
2 x 25111220379 Circlip
Needle Nose Pliers
Long Flathead Screwdriver
Jack Stands + Jack
Installation: I followed this link
Job Duration: 2 hours
It was my first time doing this, and had a difficult time removing the circlip from the OE shifter. The space is very tight, and I could only raise the car so high with my jack. If I were to this again, it would easily take 30 minutes max.
Some things to note in this install:
1. The rubber boot that covers the shifter and the opening needs to be dipped on some soapy water. It makes it a lot easier to slide this sucker over the shifter and pushed into the opening.
2. The yellow washers are optional since the E60 lever has bushings that protrude to compensate for the washers on the E39 lever. I got 4 just in case, since they pennies each. Even with 1 yellow washer, I could not fit the circlip on.
3. I would buy at least 2+ circlips, as the 1 that I had did fall into the heat shield. Luckily, I could reach my hand in far enough to retrieve it.
4. Jack the car as high as you can do so safely. The space is definitely tight.
5. The shift bearing can be easily removed by simply taking a needle nose plier, rotating the bearing about 1/4 counterclockwise, inserting a flathead screwdriver into the slot on the clip, and pulling gently. I tried to pry that sucker out before I learned I could simply rotate it out of the locking position.
6. When reinstalling the bearing, make sure the "flaps" are pointed out towards the doors. This way, you can simply push it back in.
7. Otherwise, VERY EASY DIY.
I originally purchased the Z3M shifter last year, but sold due to concerns of notchiness and shifting effort. In reading reviews about the E60 shifter as an unbranded Dinan shifter, I was skeptical at how much improvement I would actually
notice. After the install you can immediately feel the difference in the throws. The shifts are 100% more crisps (click click click between gears) and the knob sits about 1/2 inch below the OE lever. For the ~$70 I paid for this mod, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The "side to side" slop is eliminated, and the shifts are like butter. The "rubber" feel of the OE lever has been eliminated completely. I was ultimately looking for the shortest throw and shortest knob height, but what this E60 lever delivers is PERFECT. I would have been unhappy with the Z3M. You can't beat this mod for the price. For those who feel that the Dinan counterpart is on the expensive side, I urge you to give this one a try. And when I say the throws are reduced, I'm talking dramatic enough to know you have an SSK while maintaining the OE appeal.
BTW: I have 4 yellow washers and 1 circlip that I did not use. If anyone needs 1+, let me know and I can snailmail it over to you.