Metric Mechanic’s History

Founded by Jim Rowe Since his youthful experiences wrenching motorcycles and cars, and later during college while pursuing a BS in Industrial Technology and Minors in electronics and drafting; Jim Rowe always had an insatiable appetite for increasing the performance and reliability of the major drivetrain components, the engine, transmission and differential. Before founding Metric Mechanic, Jim established his reputation as a creative and skillful technician working in various import repair shops in Kansas City, MO from 1971 – 1975. Jim started his own shop primarily so he could work on the one car he really cared about – the BMW! This was before Bimmers had a rep! History Timeline

1976 Jim purchased his first BMW, a 1970 2002 and joined the Kansas City BMW Club. With that plus his talent and experience, Metric Mechanic Inc was founded as an Import Auto Repair Shop in the garage of the Rowe home, this little house in Kansas City, MO.

1977 Metric Mechanic became Kansas City’s first Independent Shop to specialize in BMW’s.

1979 MM began SCCA Solo II Racing in a 1971 BMW 2002. To solve a rash of synchronizer and bearing failures experienced during auto-crossing, we developed a virtually indestructible 4 Speed Getrag 232 manual transmission rebuild which became our first Metric Mechanic Ultimate Transmission. This fix was essential as the transmissions were lasting only 6 to 9 races between rebuilds – due to extremely hard shifting.

1980 Metric Mechanic moved into it’s first commercial location on Truman Road in KC, MO just after January 1. We were doing quite a few stock engine rebuilds on ’74 – ’76 2002′s to correct a common complaint, excessive oil consumption (more than 1 quart in 350 miles). Following Jim’s first performance rebuilt on his Bimmer, customers began requesting performance engines for their own 2002′s.

1982 Jim continues exploring products for BMW’s while doing service on all imports.

1983 After selling many highly successful Ultimate Transmissions locally, Metric Mechanic decided to offer the rebuild Nationally and began “gearing up” to market it by mailing demonstration videos to Club Chapters and advertising it in the Roundel.

1984 After 4 years of heavy auto-crossing with three to four drivers a weekend, we felt secure in claiming that the Ultimate Transmission was “race tested and consumer proven.” National sales started coming in and Metric Mechanic was no longer simply a local BMW repair shop. We attended our first Gateway Tech in St. Louis and Oktoberfest at Sturbridge, MA that fall.

1985 MM increased it’s operating space to 15,000 sq. feet by moving to 2507 East Truman Road – destined to be out location for the next 14 years. Our first Ultimate Transmission had gone through 465 races of hard shifting without synchronizer or bearing failures. We retired the car as we no longer had time for auto-crossing. We’d been experimenting with larger displacement engines but discovered that the stock head was choking the engine’s ability to rev up thereby restricting HP. To escape this limitation, MM began researching head porting techniques. After 9 months and 1400 flow tests, we succeeded in opening the head for a 20% flow increase – thereby creating the Metric Mechanic HiFlo Head.

1986 We hired an experienced engine builder, Steve Kempenar and began building and shipping large displacement engines nationwide – namely the M10 2200 HiFlo Sport Engine and the M30 3500 HiFlo Sport Engine. These engines featured increased displacement, higher compression, improved head flow, camming and lighter reciprocating mass.

1987 Our first Product Pamphlet.

1988 MM started authoring the Shade Tree technical articles for the Roundel Magazine and responding to technical questions. Many of these articles eventually appeared in a Book by Bently Publications called the BMW Enthusiasts Companion. Also this year we developed our Surface Turbulence Grooves which increased air flow gains at low valve lift, improved fuel economy and virtually eliminated tuning problems.

1989 By this time, we had figured out a lot of low cost techniques for adjusting and tuning the K & L Jetronic Fuel Injection Systems and were certain that a Do-It-Yourself Manual would be well received. We wrote and self-published the book BMW Fuel Injection: an Enlightened Approach.

1990 MM started Circle Track Racing with a 2002 running our full Surface Turbulence treatment with 12:8.1 Compression. We were winning regularly. Other racers wanted in – resulting in 5 more race engine builds which proved the advantages of Surface Turbulence. Benefits were; increased fuel efficiency, reduced detonation, and the elimination of head cracking. Near years end, we patented “Surface Turbulence“, a machining technique for applying fuel atomizing grooves to the valves, pistons and combustion chamber walls. These modifications have been a standard part of our head and engine rebuilds ever since.

1991 Metric Mechanic goes through major reconstruction. Engines were redesigned; camshaft changes, Surface Turbulence, piston slitting, and stroke change. We began building transmissions in batches, increasing efficiency and minimizing failures. Differential tooling was improved. The 2002 Five Speed Conversion and Short Shift Kits were redesigned. This year also saw the creation of  The Metric Mechanic BMW Performance Catalog and Manual – our second Product Catalog, a 116 page educational manual describing in detail, our engines, transmissions, differentials and other parts designed to accommodate the drivetrain. Overall, we improved our product line, efficiency and survived the financial crisis of the early ’90s.

1992 We developed several new M10 Engines, totally redesigned race engines for ourselves and customers.  At both local asphalt Circle Tracks in KC, these engines consistently put us in 1st or 2nd place, winning enough prize money to fully finance our racing. They ranged from 1900 to 24oo cc’s, forged alusil pistons 13:5.1 CR with 92mm bore, forged aluminum rods and crankshaft stroking from 71mm to 87mm. Surface Turbulence grooves were added to the valves, piston dome and combustion chamber. To protect the engine from oil starvation, we developed a windage tray with an oil scrapper and a horizontal baffle for the right side of the oil pan. The lightweight reciprocating mass would make them scream to 8400 rpms.

1993 We developed a complete line of Short Shift Kits with a newly designed shift handle, extension rod, and coupling.

1994 The shop expanded from 7500 sq. ft to 15,000 sq. ft. Lots of customers started arriving for product installations.

1995 Developed and expanded our line of Variable Limited Slip Differential rebuilds.

1996 Developed Getrag Sport Over Drive (OD) Transmission Rebuilds.

1997 Sold the Short Shift Kit business. Jim started drawing up custom plans for a new Metric Mechanic building to be built in Richland Missouri, 200 miles southeast of Kansas City. Launched our first website and started email sales.

1998 Began construction of Metric Mechanic’s new shop in Richland MO. Developed a 265 Getrag Conversion to replace the problematic Getrag 280 transmission used in the M5 and M6.

1999 In August, relocated to the new shop in Richland Missouri 65556

2000 MM finished development of the M20 3200 Sport and Rally Engines bringing the engine to a remarkably high level. M10, M20, M30, S14 and S38 Rally engines were developed for Driver’s Schools. They featured lighter and significantly stronger forged 4340 Chrome Moly steel “H” Beam rods and forged alusil pistons. These components allowed for spooling up the crank quicker and made the engine more abuse proof.

2001 Jim redesigns all our cams to be more powerful over a broader power range while still having a good idle and clean emissions.

2002 Started selling engine kits based on our engine rebuilds and Teddy Rowe, Jim’s son,  started working for Metric Mechanic. Wrote the S14 M3 pamphlet.

2003 Teddy enrolls in UTI – an automotive technical school in Houston Texas where he meets another student, Courtney McKoy who also has a love affair with BMWs.

2004 Teddy and Court graduate from UTI and start working at Metric Mechanic. We started researching and developing the M50 / S52 performance engines.

2005 Developed the performance M42, M44 engine series. Court became MM’s differential builder.

2006 Mark D’Sylva of E.A.T. began working with Courtney McKoy on creating tuning chips for our engines.

2007 MM wrote the M20 and M42 M44 Engine Pamphlets.

2008 Forced Engines developed for M50, M52, S50, S52 and M42, M44 Engines.


2010 After 26 years with MM, Steve Kempenar retired and Courtney McKoy, groomed for 6 years, assumed responsibility as engine builder. Blake Payne, who had volunteered on projects with Teddy and Court for over three years, joined the Metric Mechanic staff full time, moving into the role of Differential builder.

2011 Started development on BMW M21 and M51 Turbo Diesel Engine rebuilds.