By on February 6, 2013

The manual transmission is dying.  We know this because other sites constantly run articles about the death of the manual transmission, predicting its final demise sometime in the next few years, weeks, or hours.  Personally, I realized the manual’s future was limited on my last couple of trips to Europe, when I was given an automatic without even requesting it.  On one occasion, I even returned the car without damage.

But while the manual may not be long for this world, there’s still the occasional vehicle that – against all odds, and market research – is offered with three pedals.  Some are listed below, and I hope to hear about many more obscure stick shifts in the comments.  Even if you’re TTAC’s top troll.


Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

Ferrari has dropped the manual transmission to the chagrin of precisely no one, except a few “purists” who like to heel-toe their 308 on the way to local FCA functions.  However, sometimes said purists strike it rich, presumably from selling their large collections of bright red Ferrari shoes, or sweaty underwear worn – and signed – by Michael Schumacher.

Until recently, Ferrari offered those purists a three-pedal 599 GTB – and their wives could have a stick shift California, too.  That’s no longer true, but there are always one or two manuals on the market.  Just ask the dealers that get stuck with them.


Mercedes C-Class

I mentioned in a previous story that the Mercedes SLK is available with a stick shift.  That kind of makes sense, as the SLK may fit the definition of a sports car for people who have never driven a Porsche, or people who have never ridden in a Porsche, or people who have never seen a Porsche, or people who work for Mercedes.  But through the 2012 model year, you could also get a stick shift C-Class – a baffling fact that can only be attributed to Mercedes accidentally sending a few to the States, then saying “Oh yeah, we meant to do that.”  This can also explain most of Land Rover’s products in the last 20 years.


Porsche Cayenne

In years past, Porsche was a bunch of crazy Germans making weird cars.  Witness the one-off, four-door 928; the 1989 Panamerica concept car, which included Porsche crests in the tire treads (really); and the “maybe today’s the day you die” 930.

Today, the crazy is mostly gone from Porsche, with one distinct exception: the manual Cayenne.  Yes, Porsche dealers will still sell you a new stick shift Cayenne, presumably under the condition that you trade it in somewhere else.  At one point, there was even a manual Cayenne GTS – now exclusively available at used car lots who didn’t pay enough attention at auction and thought they were buying an automatic.  Sadly, the three-pedal Panamera and Panamera S sold in Europe aren’t offered in the US.  Because that would be crazy.


Land Rover Discovery

To me, the Series I Land Rover Discovery is famous for two things.  One, when it rained, water would get into the interior dome lights and slosh around under cornering.  This didn’t break the dome lights, primarily because they were never working in the first place.  Number two: the first Disco was, from 1994 to 1996, inexplicably offered with a stick shift.  It was sold alongside the Defender, which also offered a manual, though the two have endured radically different fates.  While Defender owners can still get the original MSRP for their trucks, Disco owners must settle for roadside abandonment.  Manual or automatic, it will probably roll away.


Hummer H3

There’s nothing like the Hummer H3 – a fact other automakers would tell you is very much by design.  It’s blocky, aggressive, and inefficient – but also a rare example of badge engineering gone right, since it’s indistinguishably a Chevrolet Colorado underneath.  For some reason, that also meant it inherited the Colorado’s stick shift, which was offered up until the end in 2010.  Like the manual Cayenne GTS, stick shift Hummer H3s only end up at mistaken used car dealers, who then list it on AutoTrader with a bunch of interior photos angled away from the center console.


Lexus IS250

The first-generation Lexus IS300 offered, in addition to clear tail lights, a stick shift and a station wagon (though never together).  Enthusiasts liked the stick shift IS300, while positive reviews of the IS300 SportCross appeared in dozens of magazines, like Blind World and Blind Monthly.

Unfortunately, the second-gen dropped the wagon in favor of a hardtop convertible meant for divorcees who didn’t quite get a large enough settlement for an SC430.  The stick was relegated to the IS250, which had more power than a pacemaker, but slightly less than a midsize forklift.  Nobody bought it, but boy did it allow Lexus dealers to offer some great lease specials in the weekend newspaper.


Lincoln LS

Stunning, isn’t it?  Yes, you could get a Lincoln LS with a stick shift.  You had to get the V6 model and you probably had to undergo mental competency tests at the Lincoln dealer, which was unaware that a third pedal could be used for anything but the parking brake – but it existed.  Here’s the real kick in the teeth: as everyone knows, the LS shared everything except its handsome styling with the Jaguar S-Type, which uses a retro design to remind customers of a time when Jaguars were even less reliable.  And by “everything” we mean “everything:” yes, you could get a Jaguar S-Type with a manual transmission.


(Dodge) Ram 2500

Chevrolet dropped the manual heavy duty pickup after 2006, pissing off about eleven wealthy ranchers in the process.  Ford did the same after the 2010 model year, further angering another 19 cattle prod wizards.  But Dodge – or rather Ram, at least allegedly – still offers heavy duty models with a stick shift and what can only be described as a gear lever adapted from a walking cane.  A quick glance on AutoTrader reveals the price of these trucks can climb to $60,000, placing a fully-equipped, three-pedal Ram HD behind Porsche among the most expensive sticks on the market.


Hyundai Santa Fe

If nothing else on this list shocks you (really?  You’re not surprised by the Lincoln LS?), then this one should at least raise an eyebrow.  I’m not talking about the first-generation Santa Fe, and this is no soft top Suzuki.  The Hyundai Santa Fe could be paired with a manual transmission up until 2011, when the latest model finally pushed Hyundai to its senses.  Car companies make cars like this to advertise good deals, only to have the customer show up and discover they have to pay more for an automatic.  In other words, stick shift Santa Fe owners: you’re driving a marketing expense.


BMW X3

The BMW X3 could be ordered with a stick shift until 2010.  I’ve always fantasized about owning one, since the manual X3 (and its larger X5 sibling, which was available with three pedals through 2006) is just about the only SUV that is universally car-guy acceptable.  Unfortunately, BMW dealers seem to think a manual transmission is a luxury SUV is something of a godsend, so they’re invariably priced like automatics.  My advice: show up at the dealer and act angry when you “find out” it’s a stick shift.  Then haggle from there.  After all, the guy looking for the stick shift X3 isn’t going to get a discount.


Honda Insight

There’s no stick shift in the current Honda Insight.  That should be obvious, since the current Insight is just a ripoff on the current Prius, and the current Prius only offers a weird shift knob that includes a gear called “B.”

No, it was the first generation Insight that had a manual – originally as its only transmission – long before the CR-Z made underperforming manual hybrids with thin tires cool.  A CVT came later, but the stick stayed around until the Insight died in 2006.  At the same time, Honda offered another surprising manual hybrid: the original Civic Hybrid, which could be had with a stick from 2003 to 2005.

So there you have it: a few of the stranger manuals in recent memory.  I have no doubt TTAC readers will remind me of some that are odder still.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta.  One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer.  His parents are very disappointed.

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227 Comments on “Today’s Strangest Manuals...”


  • avatar

    The future belongs to the automatic transmission.

    Whether cars become autonomous or able to fly, or electric (like the Model-S ) there’s no place in the future for manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      …and also to the transmission shops who will be invariably replacing/repairing all of those automatics as they age.

      • 0 avatar

        This is sadly no different for manuals anymore. The days of indestructible 5sp A-576 are long gone. Nowadays they start popping out of gear and eat synchros right when warranty runs out at 40k miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        Automatics since the Powerglide have proven to be the main reason for cars being sent to an early grave. Chrysler can’t even be bothered to have theirs last longer than a clutch on an MT.

        I’m sure things will be different with these new, more complex boxes coming out with 5,6, or more autotragic-shifted gears!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        My family has had more manual transmissions fail than automatics.

        I have no doubt there are ATs that kill cars, but I believe there is a higher rate of cars killed by bad drivers destroying their MTs.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      I’m still waiting for universally smart & smooth shifting autos in econoboxes. When that happens I’ll be all-for autos. It would also be nice if all econoboxes at least had a 5 speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The CVT behavior of my Prius matches that description pretty well.

        I need to drive the CVT Nissan Versa to see if that holds for a regular economy car.

        Seriously, the CVT fixes most of my issues with automatic transmissions. I prefer manual or CVT. The modern automatics that I’ve had (VW Jetta, Escape, Sienna) aren’t too bad, but they still strike me as kind of a hack to mate fundamentally mismatched pieces of equipment (engines and wheels). The CVT actually solves the problem, and the manual lets me control how good the solution is.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        The nissan versa CVT rental I had was probably the worst tranmission I’ve ever tried:

        1) Takes FOREVER to accelerate.
        2) Returns terrible gas mileage.
        3) So then, what is the point?

        UGH & UGH

        (Not sure but the sentra I rented seemed quit new…maybe an 11 or 12?)

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        My last rental was also a CVT Nissan, the Sentra. It was fine creeping along on level ground, but mountain driving was scary. Economy was better than expected and that is the only reason these CVT’s exist.

        The CVT in our Honda Civic GX kept breaking, so we traded it in before the warranty ended. No, we dont tow trailers or neglect “maintenance”, of which there is none required during the first 20,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I rented a Versa a little while back that did not have a CVT. It was one of the worst cars I’ve ever driven.

    • 0 avatar
      BourbonBob

      which is why I’m keeping my manual V8(530i) and wagon(528iT). A BMW with a slushbox is called a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      @ Pete Z – Tremec makes a pretty tough trans, in the S-197 Mustang with remote shifter it can be a bit balky, but the internal rail shifted tranmissions less so. Pretty though, I regularly pound on mine with well over 500 ft/lbs of torque and nearly 600hp on a set of drag radials in a car with a curb weight of right around 3900 pounds so at the track said transmission is really dealing with 4100+ pounds.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        Indeed they do. There was a time when I was wondering if Tremec could make a go of it, but they’ve really made those transmissions their niche.

      • 0 avatar
        Shipwright

        I’ve got you beat raph. I’m pushing 703 hp and 692 ft/lbs at the rear wheels. However, I had to change the clutch to a stouter unit. The TR6060 (the only transmission available on the 2007+ GT500s) can sure put up with a lot of abuse.

    • 0 avatar
      qa

      I haven’t driven a PDF or dual clutch auto so I can’t comment about their responsiveness and “road feel”. So far the manual shift gates I’ve driven aren’t as responsive or fun as manuals. I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive a Ford Escort MK2 rs2000 bda rally car with a sequential transmission with straight cut geers and boy THAT was a lot of fun. It had a clutch pedal but it was only used to take off from a standing start. One can only wish those trannys were made available in modern cars at an affordable price.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      http://tinyurl.com/Abe-Simpson

  • avatar
    Robstar

    So does this mean that we can get great deals on these, used?

    • 0 avatar
      BourbonBob

      I did get two Audis for cheap during the ‘unintended acceleration’ days. Didn’t matter that a car with a real gearbox had no way of magically accelerating. The lawsuits should have been for the slush box in general, going back to the Dynaflow.

  • avatar
    Tick

    Great read Doug, keep it up.

    I’ve been told the “flappy-paddle” on the new M3 and Porsches PDK is supposed to be very good. My buddy said the were the first of their type that he’d take over a stick. While I love the satisfying clunk of swapping gears, the idea of a GOOD flappy paddle is untriguing. So far I’ve only driven automatics masquerading as such. Manual inputs seem to be more of a suggestion than a command.

    Until good paddle shifts become more mainstream, I think those other pubs are wrong. The stick shift will be the go-to tranny for those who actually look forward to driving to and from work.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a few days of driving experience with a DSG-equipped Eos including, hilariously, some surprisingly aggressive autocross-y driving: it was a sponsor-provided lead vehicle for a local criterium (short-circuit bicycle race)*. As a transmission, the DSG was lots of fun, and I’d have no problem living with it, functionally. I spent a fairly even amount of time in both automatic and flappy-paddle mode.

      The fundamental advantage of manuals, whether us car nerds want to admit it or not, is they have a slight advantage in efficiency (and maybe cost) over conventional torque-converter automatics. The DSG (and any other automated manual) is as efficient as a conventional manual, but more expensive. CVTs can be MORE efficient than a manual, and the cost either isn’t that great, or can be justified by the slightly better fuel bill.

      Romantic attachment to the third pedal for its own sake seems to be about as loony as arguing over power steering. And I’m sure that was an argument at one time, that power steering robbed sporting feel, less manly, blah blah blah. Hands up everybody here who wishes they could get a car without power steering? Okay you with the Caterham 7, now sit down again. Even the Miata owners think you’re weird.

      The stick shift will survive for some time in the same place where the last manual-steering cars did: the lowest of low end, where cost and efficiency drive the market, and in the Caterham 7. And then, eventually, CVTs or automanuals or automatics with really aggressive lockup-clutch programs and tons of gears will prevail there, too. Well, except the Caterham 7 market, all 1000 a year worldwide.

      (Make no mistake: I like driving stick shift, and like sticks much more than conventional automatics. But I don’t think the essentially aesthetic arguments for manual transmissions make much sense.)

      *You haven’t lived until you pass through a complex of blind corners 100m ahead of the lead riders, everyone averaging 50 km/h on the circuit, and there’s two kids who have wandered onto the (closed) course on their bicycles.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I don’t know if we are romanticizing the third pedal, neccesarily. I know that in Canadian winter conditions, having a direct connection to the power flow to the wheels is golden.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        “The fundamental advantage of manuals, whether us car nerds want to admit it or not, is they have a slight advantage in efficiency (and maybe cost) over conventional torque-converter automatics.”

        Yeah nah mate. The fundamental advantage of manuals for anyone is the cheaper cost of implacement and more importantly, replacement. Amazing that no one seems to wonder at time of purchase how much money its going to take to repair or replace a flappy paddle gearbox, regardless of how good it is.

      • 0 avatar

        Good power steering doesn’t make you wish you had manual steering, but a bad automatic transmission sure makes you wish you had a stick.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The fundamental advantage of manuals, whether us car nerds want to admit it or not, is they have a slight advantage in efficiency”

        This used to be a reliable truism. Not so much anymore. If anything, the trend is for automatics to have a slight fuel economy advantage, and that trend should favor automatics as they become more sophisticated.

        The primary advantage of a stick is that the driver has more flexibility in choosing his shift points. That makes driving more fun for those who enjoy such things, and is of particular benefit for anyone who is trying to squeeze whatever performance that he can out of a small displacement motor. But as this advantage disappears, it becomes more likely that the automatic becomes more commonplace even in places where manuals still dominate, such as in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “And then, eventually, CVTs or automanuals or automatics with really aggressive lockup-clutch programs and tons of gears will prevail there, too.”

        Although my DD is still a stick-shift, I must say that I’ve had many fewer complaints about a well-designed modern 6-speed automatic than I used to about the crappy 4-speed autos of yore. They’re far more often in the right gear, and the lockup and shift patterns tend to produce higher gas mileage too. I’d imagine I’d feel similar about the 8-speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Automatics are more efficient in the EPA test now, since they can be gamed to shift as early as physically possible on the test while manuals are shifted at relatively high rpm as dictated by the EPA’s schedule. This has no correlation to how a properly driven manual will consume fuel on the road relative to an automatic driven in the same manner. There are a few exceptions where the automatic version of a car has such taller gearing that it can return better mileage when driven mildly on the highway, but an automatic will not match a properly driven manual in any other situation.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @CJinSD

        +1000

        For reasonably equivalent gearing, any efficiency advantage to an automatic in the real world is a byproduct of our rather bogus testing regime. You COULD make an automatic that was actually programmed to maximize efficiecy in the real world, but people (and especially buff books) would HATE it, as it would basically never downshift.

        It drives me complete insane when driving automatics that I simply cannot accelerate at low rpm and heavy throttle. You can’t do it, the transmission will just downshift. This is a key aspect of driving for maximum efficiency. My BMW will accelerate heartily from 35mph in 6th gear, why on Earth would I want or need to downshift?

        And even the BEST automatic can only be reactive – I can be proactive by selecting a gear before I need it. Some flappy paddle setups are “OK”, but most treat the paddles as suggestions not commands. Removing the clutch pedal takes all the skill and thus most of the fun out of the whole process.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        CJinSD, I don’t agree. With lock-ups & faster shifting, any fundamental efficiency advantage of MTs will be (if not already) lost in the noise.

        corntrollio, one of my vette-driving, MT-insisting friends recently rode in a recent 6-speed AT. He was dumbfounded at how good it was. Many of the ‘truths’ people know about ATs are long out-of-date. They’re still far from perfect, but they are not what the haters think they are.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        @krhodes1 – I always thought the idea was to reduce engine load, not keep RPM down at all cost. 6th gear @ 35mph sounds extreme for an I6 (you have a 328i wagon if I remember right?). I don’t even like doing that with my 540. I’ll coast along on flat ground in 6th at low speeds, but I won’t ask it to climb hills or accelerate in 6th below 1500 RPM. It will do it, but I don’t think that makes it a good idea.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        These days, automatics often have more speeds than manual transmissions, which allows the gearing to be more optimal.

        The transmissions themselves are more efficiently designed, so there is less energy loss in the drivetrain.

        The electronics are also better, so they can optimize their operations with the engine better than a human can.

        I realize that gearheads like to feel in control, but this control is an illusion. As technology improves, the car is becoming smarter than you are. And while the cars are improving their capabilities, the humans who are driving them almost certainly are not: Car 1, Human 0.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Pch101 – The control is absolutely not an illusion. The human won’t always (if ever) choose gears as well as the car, but the control is still there. You choose the gears with no electronic intervention, and that’s why I still find manuals amusing. I enjoy the challenge of getting the timing right.

        I’ve tried the manual gate in good automatics, and I quickly gave up on it. It wasn’t because I found the transmission incompetent – just the opposite actually. The car drove better when left to make its own decisions.

        Anyone sticking with manual transmissions (despite availability of a good automatic in the same car) does it because they find it fun, not because they find it more efficient. You are arguing for the technical superiority of automatics, but I doubt many care. Personally, I have fun changing gears – even if I rarely do it as effectively as an automatic would.

      • 0 avatar
        cargogh

        To Pch101. The cars may be smart, but as long as I can still steer it into a tree on purpose, my controlling it wasn’t an illusion.

        In a few years though, it will sense the tree, apply the brakes, lock the doors, put on the flashers, tighten my seat belts and call 911 to have me hauled off for a mental inquest.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The human won’t always (if ever) choose gears as well as the car, but the control is still there.”

        I’ll rephrase it — the human may be in charge, but the human won’t necessarily make the best decisions. (In many cases, humans absolutely don’t make the best decisions.) The idea that control produces a superior result is an illusion that is emotionally compelling but untrue.

        I personally prefer manual transmissions and will continue to do so for the conceivable future, but they are quickly losing whatever technical advantages that they had over the automatic. The improvements to automatics are genuine improvements, and not just a matter of gaming. A lot of money has been invested in improving their performance and efficiency, and the effort is paying off.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I drive a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic regularly. I dislike the automatic more every time I drive it. It’s become less and less smooth over the 15,000 miles it has accumulated. Car and Driver tested a car with the same transmission over 40,000 miles and attributed a 10% increase in elapsed time from 0-60 to transmission wear, as the 1/4 mile trap speed showed that it wasn’t due to loss of engine performance. Some people like automatic transmissions. I am not one of them, and I’m familiar with most of the automatics that are supposed to be good.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I think the Buick Regal (turbo and GS) with the manual should get a shout out. Buick and manual in the same sentance is icing on the cake!

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    not really that odd, but don’t forget that you can still get a proper 3rd pedal in the 535 (but not the 528), the Audi A4 (which I own and love) and the Mazda CX-5.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      The C5 A6/S6 used to have a manual transmission in the US too, but not since then. I think the Audi V8 (pre-A8) was available with one too, but not the RS6 for some reason.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The CX-5 manual is only available as a FWD model with the smaller engine. If I wanted a FWD 5-speed with an engine better suited to a compact sedan, why would I pick a CX-5 over a Mazda 3?

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        There is a real chance the mid-level trim with the 2.5L will get the MT later this year, but unlike the 6, that’s unconfirmed.

        More importantly, CUVs are mommy-mobiles. The fact that ANY are sold with a manual is a surprise. Normal people don’t pick an engine+transmission and then decide what car to put it in. They pick a car for its size, features, & looks, and then pick an engine (typically on cost), and then they pick the transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        At this point in time, a manual transmission is rarely bought by the ‘normal person’ you describe. Chances are it would be purchased by someone who actively seeks it out, so it ought to be available in a way that makes sense to that customer. Considering I’ve purchased seven cars for my use with manual transmissions that I never would have considered were they automatic, I’m pretty comfortable saying Mazda is achieving next to nothing with their 2 liter, FWD, manual CUV.

        If people pick their engine choice on price, what ever prompts them to step up? “I was going to get the 4-cylinder Camry, but I wanted to pay over $30K,” isn’t a statement I’ve ever heard.

  • avatar
    fiatjim

    I gotta throw the Mazda5 into this mix. I recommend them to my car nut father friends, and get told it’s a minivan. So I guess they’re being bought by… car nut florists?

    • 0 avatar
      missinginvlissingen

      Car-nut father with a manual Mazda5, here.

      Pull up to a stoplight next to some other dad in his huge, soft Odyssey or Sienna… I bump the stick to neutral and hammer the gas, the deafening roar of my 158 hp inline-4 announces to my nemesis that IT IS ON, BRO. As the cross traffic’s light goes red, I rev to 5500 RPM, and drop the clutch as soon as we see green. The low-profile 17s start squealing, and everyone at this corner instantly knows that CAR NUT FATHER is kicking ass and taking names. By the time I’m in 3rd gear, Sienna Dad is in my rearview*, crushed by the fact that once again he will not be the first one at soccer practice pick-up.

      (*Doesn’t actually happen. Every other minivan has a V6 with 1,000 hp, and will dust my Mazda from a stoplight, from 30-50, from 50-70, from any speed to any other speed. But I am having way more fun.)

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        LMAO!!!!

        I’ve never really looked well on the Mazda5 … until today.

        You sir are the embodiment of Zoom Zoom for the Family :)

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I seriously want a Mazda5 stick now after reading missinginvlissingen’s post.

        Bravo Sir! Bravo!

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @missinginvlissingen. I too, own a ’010 Mazda5, unfortunately of the GT trim. Cause if you want comfy, heated leather seats and a sunroof with rear spoiler you gotta get the slusher. However, I soooooo wanted the manual. And its the only ‘Mini-Van’ to actually be the size of the original concept of a compact, easy to own and love, people mover.

      • 0 avatar

        I recall someone I worked with wanting a Mazda5 with a gearbox. However, Mazda would only do that for a stripped-out model, so she wound up getting the next-best thing, the Jetta Sportwagen…

      • 0 avatar
        missinginvlissingen

        @Kyree – yes, unfortunately Mazda (like other mfrs) assumes all stickshift drivers are cheapskates who prefer strippers. Luckily, this describes me spot-on. But I do worry that it creates a stigma for manual transmission cars that could speed up their disappearance from the market.

        @dolorean – I’m with you, the size of this vehicle is what sold me on it. If I wanted to be a ship’s captain, I would have joined the merchant marine. I only want to be able to drive my two kids plus their two friends, without putting a 9-year-old in the front passenger seat (which is, in our modern times, viewed as nearly equivalent to child abuse).

      • 0 avatar
        fatalexception04

        @missinginvlissingen

        Your story sounds like the same experience driving my mazda3 around lol. A lil slow, but a lot more fun than others on the road. I have an 07 and back then you could get it fully loaded with stick. Over the years its been a bummer for the “zoom zoom” company that they’ve been leaving manuals for the lower trims. But still they are a lot of fun to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        As a slushbox Mazda 5 GT owner, I share your pain of lack of acceleration. But it is a fun little thing to drive for what it is. The auto is pretty good actually, responsive and all, with an engine that revs well and doesn’t mind being run hard. The manual mode is a bit slow, but helps to maximize merging and passing maneuvers.

        It’s a shame Mazda chose not to market the 5 strongly in the US. I fear it’s end is near in the US, with the CX-5 offering much the same thing in the all desirable to other people CUV package. But I loves my slidin’ doors, especially with two kids.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    AFAIK I know you can get a stick on the Mazda5 as well. Any minivan with a stick has got to be a rarity….

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My aunt and uncle had a late 80′s Caravan or Voyager with a 5 spd. Couldn’t have had a high take rate, but probably higher than todays. Ford’s Aerostar had a stick available, in theory, up until maybe the end of the run?? It was basically a Ranger with a van body.

      Our Mazda 5 is the GT version, so no manual. The wife won’t learn to drive one anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      As gearhead says, the Aerostar (base model XL, I’m pretty sure) had a 5-speed manual.

      That transmission was/is the Holy Grail for anyone looking to drop a Taurus SHO engine into a Merkur XR4Ti. The bellhousing bolts right up to the 3.0 liter Vulcan engine.

      They were always rare, and I’m guessing that by now most have gone to the boneyards, where most of those have been plucked by Merkur folks.

  • avatar

    Lost me with the hate of IS, although I read until the Dodge thing. Haters gonna hate, and BTW this is exactly why nobody likes enthusiasts of stick shift.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @Bigtrucks,

    “there’s no place in the future for manuals.”

    I totally disagree although they may be restricted to sports or sporty cars. I wish they would bring back the ’3 on the tree’, but with ’6 on the tree’. Some of my favorite cars of all time ONLY came as manuals. SVOs, SVT Cobras and now the GT500s and Boss’. The original Cobras of course, but if you couldn’t drive a stick it meant you were a poser and had no business in the showroom. They were definitely telling you to step off.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    A couple of unusual manual offerings come from Mazda: the CX-5 CUV and Mazda 5 microvan. Both are available with manual transmissions in their base trims. We have a 2006 Mazda 5 with a stick, and I’ve seen several others in the Philly area.

    Edit: saw a couple added these already. Also, I’m a little surprised at GM’s offerings, including the Buicks mentioned already and the Cadillac ATS.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Lincoln LS would be weirder if the V8 had been offered with a manual.

    The Santa Fe would have been weirder as a manual trans AWD model.

    I think the Verano is strange in the fact that the manual trans is only offered on the PREMIUM trim level but that’s because the turbo is only offered on the PREMIUM trim level.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    “now exclusively available at used car lots who didn’t pay enough attention at auction and thought they were buying an automatic.”

    …is why we have a 2012 Sorento with a 6-speed manual gearbox, another rarity.

    Diesel trucks w/sticks bring all the money, btw, wholesale and retail.

    How about the elusive 2002 Explorer with stick?
    http://images.autotrader.com/scaler/544/408/images/2013/2/6/339/421/29867038443.339421057.IM1.09.565x421_A.562×421.jpg

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    “there’s no place in the future for manuals.”
    In North America maybe, but Europe and the rest of the world where (as far as I can work out) engines tend to be much smaller and manual transmissions are in the majority of vehicles, I doubt it.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I never knew you could get a manual trans in the H3. Color me surprised. I knew about the LS, since I’ve actually seen a few, but the S-Type I did not.

    One I was surprised to see was a manual transmission in an ’01-’06 Sebring sedan and convertible. With the 2.7L V6, not just some lowly 4 cylinder stripper either.

    The 2008-2012 Escape had a manual as an option. Although I’ve never seen one, I’m told they exist.

    The Pontiac G6 would be had with a V6 and manual trans, a rare sight.

    I recall seeing the (very) odd Maxima with a stick shift in the mid 2000′s as well.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      The Stratus R/T sedan/Sebring GTC convertible were only available 2002-2003 with 2.7 and manual.

      PT Cruiser was offered from 2001-2008 with manual shift, as well. Turbo or N/A.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Thanks, I wasn’t sure of the exact years, just the body style. Just try and find a Sebring convertible with a manual trans, the production figures must have been exceedingly low.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The 2008-2012 Escape had a manual as an option.

      Yes it was even available with a manual AWD/4×4 model. The true rarity would be the manual trans model from the first years of production when the 4×4 system still had a 4×2 setting and didn’t have to be left in AWD all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      They’re around, just not easy to find. There was a Sebring in Munford, Alabama a little while back(1/2 way between Birmingham and Atlanta) but it had a bashed-in door and– the seller still wanted something like $4,000 for the thing!

      The 2.7 always made me worry about them, personally– but for the right price, I’d plug an anvil-reliable 2.4l(maybe the turbo, if the PT computer would run one!) in and not look back.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Our LeMons car is a first gen Stratus with a 2.4L/5 speed. We swapped in the 2.4L as the manual only came with 2.0Ls.

        Turned out do be a bigger endeavor than we first imagined due to the wiring harnesses pinouts and colors beging completely different between the 2.0L and 2.4L AND the fact that our body was a ’95 and the engine and PCM were from a ’96. Re-routing the circuits in 170 pin positions was time consuming.

        Mechanically, it was fairly straight forward. We even adapted the SRT4 oil to water cooling system which turned out to be a motor saver the second time around.

        Going from a 2.7L to 2.4L would probably be more effort than I’d be willing to put in for the end result. If one was had for a bargain with a grenaded 2.7L, I would consider however a 3.5L swap.

        That’s not a bad swap in the LH if you have the accessories, and the 2.7L PCM will even pass an emission test running the 3.5L.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      2005 Maxima SE was the last Maxima available with a 6-speed, by my understanding. I was going to look at one at a local dealership, and it got sold off the lot so fast they never even took pictures of the thing. I didn’t even get a whiff. Which to me indicates that the notion that manuals are undesirable or hard to sell is patently absurd. It all depends on the car.

      The fact is, people who can do things for themselves will always have advantages over people who can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      AnsonYu

      You could in the H3 but why would you want a 5-cylinder with it?

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    This, “maybe today’s the day you die” 930, made me LOL.

    Seen several of those LS’s with sticks. I did not know they were that unusual. Also, is the picture up top, a early 90′s Shadow/Sundace?

  • avatar
    JMII

    You can still get sticks in some Volvos (S40) which is almost as odd as the Lincoln.

    My wife drives a C30 which is a rare vehicle to start with. Who in their right mind goes to a Volvo dealer for 6 speed turbo hot hatch? Nobody! So to answer the obvious question: YES these things are steal on the used market. I watched one sit on a lot for nearly 6 months with price dropping at a rate of $200 a week. I was two days late on trying to buy it when the price finally reached numbers normally associated with ATVs for hunters.

    • 0 avatar
      petrolhead85

      As a matter of fact I did. Last month I went to a Volvo dealer, traded my 2011 Mustang V6 (auto) and bought a 2013 C30 T5 with a 6 speed manual. And yes I also went for the Polestar performance tuning. It’s by far the best car I’ve owned.

      But yeah, not looking forward to trading it in when the warranty runs out.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      There was a recent New or Used (or was it Piston Slap?) about the C30 where the dealer wouldn’t budge.

      I really think demand is ahead of supply for manuals on the used market. When I’m looking for a manual I’m hoping the seller will want it gone soon, and that is never the case. They always command a premium compared to the far more common automatics.

  • avatar
    ICARFAN

    Just how bad is it out there in new car land? Been looking for months at getting a grocery getter because we live in the country and a trip to a suitable grocery store is a 70 mile round trip, so a confident little car with good MPG would be nice. Stopped at a Toyota dealer and looked at the Yaris SE, pretty boring, but would work nicely for a very long time and also allow me to run the occasional autocross for cheap in the stock class. Dealer of course had the crappy auto on the lot and a search of the dealer inventory showed that not one was ordered with a manual between LA and Seattle. I find it almost impossible to believe that I am the only person in the entire PNW that wants a manual in a small car like that. They could order one if I want to wait 120 days, leave a deposit and of course that includes no test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr.Radar

      Check out the domestic brands, seriously. They all offer manuals in their B and C-segment cars and you can readily find them at dealers in metropolitan areas (your luck at rural dealerships may not be so good). The Ford Fiesta and Focus, Chevy Sonic and Cruze, and Fiat 500 and Dodge Dart are all good cars (though avoid the 1.4T in the Dart unless you enjoy glacial acceleration below 3k RPM).

      It seems like many foreign brands (Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Kia in particular), when they offer manual transmissions in these segments, barely produce any so they’re impossible to actually buy. Also check out Mazda; being a “sportier” brand they actually put effort into their manuals and make them pretty easy to find even in the manual-hating US.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Look at Ford Focus and Fiesta, Mazda3, Honda Civic and Fit. The hard part is finding a dealer with manual transmission examples on the lot.

      We bought a Focus. Quiet, comfortable, faster than it feels, excellent ride without sacrificing handling, 32 mpg average over the three months we have owned it. It’s major failing is five speeds. So far, only the turbo ST model comes with six.

      The Mazda3 was a close second choice. It does have six speeds.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    How is it surprising that the first gen Insight had a stick? It’s entire purpose was maximum fuel economy. If you know how to use all of the pedals, you can get better fuel economy with a stick than you ever could with an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Momma

      You’d think a manual hybrid would be a no-brainer, and that’s what I thought too until one day someone looked in my 2000 Insight and said “Wow – a stick shift!” and I realized that NO hybrids had a stick outside of mine and a few Civics. Honda employs a different type of hybrid drivetrain that lends itself to a manual transmission but which also prevents the Prius-only creeping along entirely on electric power option. So it’s a trade off.

  • avatar
    slingshot

    Just did some research to see what is available around Boston. There was one IS250 but Edmunds wrote it has the worst manual in the world. A few 300Cs and a few X3s. The X3 would be a keeper I think. The LS is too old and too many problems. The manual Sorrento doesn’t come with AWD and the Sante Fe didn’t either from what I could tell.

    What I really want is AWD and a manual at a resonable price which is almost impossible to find unless you look at Subaru. Maybe a used 328 but I don’t really want to pay the maintenance costs Everytime I go to Europe I usually rent a small Citroen, best clutch in the world, hard to screw it up.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My 2SS Camaro has a the 6 speed. I was told by many ” get the automatic your going to wish you did at resale time”.. Yup, its something I may regret down the road.

    But for now..I love it! I wouldn’t want the car any other way.

  • avatar
    banjopanther

    Don’t forget the 2013 Ford Focus ST, only available in a manual.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    It always seemed to me, that it was the cell phone, then the efficiency of the LePelletier 6 speed auto geartrain, did in the stick. Dosn’t matter, I’ll find one somehow. Only a hanful of light trucks/SUVs com with them now, and as posted, they are now commonplace in sports and economy cars.

    When I hear voices clamoring for self-driving cars, I know most drivers see driving as a burden, not a joy. That makes me sad.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      I fully expect “dialing your dentist while driving through a school zone” to replace the three-point turn on the official driving test in the near future.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I always drooled over a brown base model Dodge Nitro with the 6-speed. That thing felt like a beast that would last forever.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The Mk 1 Audi TT may be one of the somewhat recent cars that manuals outsold automatics by a significant amount.

    If you wanted AWD, it had to be a manual 4 cylinder turbo.

    Resale on FWD auto TTs is terrible.

    Once the V6 became available at the end of the model run it came only with DSG and AWD.

    Audi reset the marketing and pitched the Mk II to different buyers with only DSG and AWD but sales have been pathetic.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I’ve seen a Mercury Milan (’06 maybe?) with a stick shift. Silver with black leather interior. I didn’t know you could get them with the stick.

    • 0 avatar

      For the four-pot, like the Fusion. I have seen a couple of those things floating around online. Even brought it up to a sister looking for a car. They’re still a Mazda6 under there, but with two-tone seats.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Most reviews I read or watch from the UK still use manuals whenever they’re available.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Older Nissan Altimas were available with V6 and 6MT. And so was Mazda6. Acura TL was available with one since 2004 model year and you can still buy one, now with AWD! Most Subarus (except Tribeca and SVX) were available with stick at one time or another.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I had an 04 Mazda 6 V6 5 speed. That was a nice to drive car. Sadly the 3.0 Ford V6 underhood was the weak link.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      2005 Mazda6 wagon (V6 5MT)….was a beauty and nobody seems to want to make one anymore. Acura TSX wagon was oh so close until they only did a 4cyl auto combination :(

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      I had an 04 TL stick until late last year. Only saw one other one in 8 years. Mind you, the stick wasn’t any cheaper than the slushbox but it did have brembo front brakes. The dealer wanted almost $600 for front pads and rotors, and the pads were good for 25K max. With that in mind, I’m surprised they didn’t try to sell more of them.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Brakes have to be one of the biggest profit centers dealers and mechanics have. Check out prices online – they are probably half what a dealer charges. Huge margins on pads and rotors. The labor is icing on the cake for them.

        If you have limited time or space for DIY repair, brake replacement is a good procedure to focus on. Once you see what’s involved, a price quote from a pro will make you ill.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Kudos to the Honda that used to be, for offering the S2000 in manual only. 2000-2009, RIP.

  • avatar
    RedSC94

    The 1989 to 1995 Thunderbird Supercoupes were available with a 5 speed manual trans. That’s specifically why I bought mine. They’re fairly rare; my 94 is one of 722 94s with the 5 speed.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Enjoying my 2012 Challenger with manual transmission every day.

    As far as rentals: Every time I go back to visit family in Europe, I invariably am given a manual trans rental. Automatics are rare. None of my extended family or friends has an automatic. Automatics are for those who can’t hack it (pass the test) in a manual. There’s a separate license for it, which does not allow you to drive manuals. :-)

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Am I the only one that sees Barbie legs in those Porsche Cayenne grab handles?

  • avatar
    Topher

    I learned to drive on a 1990 Mazda MPV with a 5 speed and four-wheel drive. That thing was a beast. It also looked like one because Mazda screwed up the primer/paint matching and the paint started flaking off. We called it “flaky”.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      A rare beast indeed! People on the MPV forum are constantly on the hunt for the ‘unicorn’ 5spd MPVs. The 4x4s had a legit low range set of gears in addition to the locking diff.

  • avatar
    PeteK

    Let’s not forget the Cadillac CTS sedan. I’m not entirely sure about the first generation (2004-2007), but the second generation (2008-2013) let you get a stick with either v6 (2008-20011), the smaller V6 (2012-2013), or like me, with the honkin’ V8 (2009-2013). I believe it was the first Cadillac in many decades to have that option. Of course they stuck to dealer lots like glue…

  • avatar
    grzydj

    The Dodge Caravan could be had with a manual transmission in 1989 and ’90. Even more freakish is that you could also ask for a turbo model and Dodge would sell you one.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      The Caravan/Voyager twins were available with a manual transmission from Day 1 until the 1993 MY.

      I had a ’92 Voyager with a stick. It was sprightly and got great MPG when empty. Conversely, it was a dog and got lousy MPG when loaded.

      It was built like a tin can with a FWD drivetrain at one end, and rattled like one.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      Previa came with a stick for 90-91 I believe (maybe even to 92). You could get AWD, but sadly they killed the 5MT before the supercharged version.

      We have a 1984 Toyota Van 5MT which was also a rare beast. from 86-88 you could get a 5MT with proper 4×4 (hi-lo transfer case). Amazing how these types of oddball choices have mostly vanished (save for the ones above & mentioned in comments)

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Beat me to it on the Caravan. But here’s another obscure manual minivan: the Ford Aerostar (based on Ranger mechanicals IIRC).

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That is a strange one — it was technically available with a manual transmission through almost the whole run, although I never saw one.

        They dropped the manual transmission in 1996, and oddly, they had a 5-speed auto in 1997 with the Cologne engine (shared with the Explorer), even though it was the last model year. I believe that the Aerostar and Explorer might have been the first domestic marque vehicles to have a 5-speed auto that year, but am not sure. The Aerostar was then phased out in favor of the Windstar, which had first been available as a 1995 model.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Long live the stick, dammit. They can pry mine from my cold, dead hands..

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I am guessing I am not the only TTAC commenter who would find it very hard to buy a new vehicle, what with the dearth of available manuals, the inability to avoid every electronic nanny known to man, HVAC control buried in touchscreen menus, high belt lines that impede rear and side visability…

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        I’m right with you.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        The Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series probably cover all those — MT, check; defeatable nannies (except ABS), check; HVAC not in touchscreen, check; and visibility, check.

        Still don’t understand the visibility complaints though. I personally have never had a problem with visibility with the high belt line or alleged larger D pillars (that are seen sometimes on Junkyard Finds, btw) that the cheap Luddites here complain about. Seems like a theoretical complaint made by an internet users, rather than a driver.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        High, sweeping beltlines tend to lead to short trunks and poor rearward visibility.

        This is somewhat of a sweeping statement, I will admit. There are other design considerations as well. Its hard to sum up the whole of the issue in a few lines. My personal preference is for a car with a decent amount of glass. But its not a theoretical complaint. I think this is why so many cars now come stock with a back up camera, and mainstream auto media lambasts vehicles that ship without it.

        But, yes, I have been told I like old man cars, but really I just like cars with more squared off lines and more glass, rear wheels beneath the C-pillar and a decent trunk. The A4 definitely fits the bill here.

      • 0 avatar
        kkt

        This. I’m also not sure what to recommend for my mom, with similar feelings and an even stronger dislike of any electronics and power helpers. What she wants is a new 1980s Tercel: manual transmission, crank windows, reasonably high clearance without being an SUV, no screen on the dashboard, good visibility, bulletproof for 15 years and probably 200,000 miles, great fuel economy and inexpensive to buy. Unfortunately, it’s hard to meet any one of those criteria by itself, let alone finding all of them together.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        It appears the base model Corolla actually fits the bill, according to a quick look at toyota.ca. Manual windows and all.

        Except for the clearance.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        The 80s Tercel didn’t have great ground clearance, and a lot of them didn’t have power steering, so I hope your mom has a strong upper body.

        From my experience, it also wasn’t bullet-proof for 15 years/200K.

        But I’m sure you can get a more modern cheapo stripper econobox without ground clearance if that’s what you want.

        “I think this is why so many cars now come stock with a back up camera, and mainstream auto media lambasts vehicles that ship without it.”

        No, not really. The legislation stems from a Bush II-era law in 2008 that is about protecting kids, because an unreasonably large number of them, especially 1-year olds, get backed over by parents and relatives.

      • 0 avatar
        kkt

        A base Corolla is what she has now and is thinking about replacing. As you say, not as much clearance as the Tercel and the fuel economy isn’t as good. She is a geologist and sometimes drives to field trip locations on Forest Service roads etc. Nothing hardcore, but 6 inches is a lot better than 4 1/2.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        Maybe a the boxy Nissan Versa hatch or used sedan in base version. Exercise PKG and all. Not sure about the ground clearance. It is based on the Dacia Logan and that car was all about non developed countries with lousy roads. So there is hope. BTW, the Versa took high mile rental abuse much better then most cars.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    There were a few Infiniti I30′s sold with manuals, in 96 and perhaps early 97. Don’t think I’ve ever seen one listed for sale though.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      1992 ES300 had a V6 5MT as well. I see one or two on autotrader here and there, but they are VERY rare (and at 20+ yrs old, probably almost all gone – crashed, junked, etc.)

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        The first-gen Lexus ES250 had one available, since it was a thinly discussed Camry with frameless windows, but a second-gen would be more surprising to see. I saw a first-gen pop up for purchase when it was a 10-year old car, but doubt you’d be able to find one today barring someone’s kids selling them after their death.

      • 0 avatar
        afedaken

        I gave up a 99 Camry with the v6 and 5MT when something in the tranny went, and it wouldn’t drop out of gear. Only had 170k… Still a baby!

        And I still miss it. It would go to lose-your-license speeds in surprisingly little time. A total q-ship. I used to bomb around Philly suprising Civics with fart cans who couldn’t believe that a Camry was even available with a stick…

    • 0 avatar
      DucRam

      I had a 1996 Infiniti I30t with a 5-speed. Only the ‘Touring’ model, thus the ‘t’ in I30t, had the 5-speed option.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    The Forester XT was always my favorite “available with a manual” vehicle. Curse Subaru for taking that away in the new 2014 model!

  • avatar
    skor

    “My advice: show up at the dealer and act angry when you “find out” it’s a stick shift. Then haggle from there. After all, the guy looking for the stick shift X3 isn’t going to get a discount.”

    You’re not kidding. My buddy went to his local Hyundai dealer and asked for a manual Accent model. The dealer beat the bushes until one turned up, and then refused to take one penny off sticker. My friend paid.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Jeep offered a 5 speed transmission on the first couple years of the ZJ Grand Cherokee. 1993-1994 I believe.

    Here’s one! http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=29483&endYear=2014&modelCode1=JEEPGRAND&showcaseOwnerId=72042&startYear=1981&makeCode1=JEEP&transmissionCode=MAN&sellerTypes=b&transmissionCodes=MAN&searchRadius=0&mmt=%5BJEEP%5BJEEPGRAND%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&listingId=335646983&listingIndex=2&Log=0

  • avatar
    johnharris

    I was scanning the inventory at the local BMW dealership this morning AND NOT A SINGLE 1- or 3-series is on offer with a manual, new or used.

    I don’t understand. I am neither stubborn nor a Luddite. But I take an elemental pleasure in choosing my own gears. Why are there so few like me?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sacrilege. Death to the Roundel.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you in America? The 128i can _only_ be had with a manual.

      Edit: Weird, there’s a spec with an auto, apparently.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      So order one. BMW will build one just for you, any spec you want. No extra charge, and in fact if you take a little Euro vacation to pick it up they will give you a nice discount on the car.

      Experience of a lifetime, driving YOUR BMW on the Autobahn:

      http://flic.kr/p/dSNzvp

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      BMW seems to have run screaming from manuals. In my ’02 M5 it was the only choice (thankfully), but a friend of mine has been looking for a lightly used E90 sedan with a stick and boy are they hard to find. Possibly because almost every low mileage one was originally moved under a “look ma, I can afford a Bimmer” 10,000 mile lease special.

  • avatar
    doud1987

    The Minis come with manual transmission,
    Actually Mini takes position in favor of manual transmission:
    “We’ll make a manual out of you”
    http://www.miniusa.com/#/manual-m

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Stock photo manual. Thats a 91-96 Ford Escort. My sister had a 95 LX 3 dr hatchback, 5 spd stick. Car was an absolute blast to drive on back roads.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    I love Doug’s writing style. He made the right decision regardless of what his parents think.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    You know, if the Acura RL had been sold with an optional 6-speed, it probably would have sold *better*. I mean, when you’re scraping the bottom for 60 sales a month, offering something, ANYTHING out of the norm couldn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    Tons of zingers! Excellent

  • avatar
    BourbonBob

    Automatic trannys (is that a gender comment?) means stop&go traffic, stoplight creep, rearending crashes, senseless brake lighting, tailgating and unintended acceleration. GPS devices get us over bridges and into lakes. Imagine what the driverless car can do for us?

    • 0 avatar
      Splorg McGillicuddy

      I make that argument frequently (to visitors) that a manual transmission actually makes San Francisco easier to drive. It just plain *does*.

      As far as the “tranny” reference: when it’s transmissions, it’s fine. When it’s transsexuals, most of them (but certainly not all) find it derogatory.

      But I’m with you — death to the automatic malaise that’s taken over the industry.

  • avatar
    Spanish Inquisition

    Oh hey, its my car, the C-class! I wonder who makes the transmission; info is scarcer than the cars themselves, which is pretty rare already.

    • 0 avatar
      BourbonBob

      ZF would be my guess.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Doesn’t Mercedes engineer their own transmissions? I heard that the new C-class in 2015 will have one made by ZF. I thought some older models had transmissions from ZF too, but I’m thinking of 60s Benzes.

      • 0 avatar
        Spanish Inquisition

        ZF? Perhaps. I have a feeling it’s the same box as the W203 C-class. Getrag? ZF? Who knows. Mercedes does engineer their own transmissions, but I’ve yet to hear of anybody raving about Mercedes’ in-house manual transmissions. Their automatics are definitely their own.

        If it’s not clear, the C-class pictured in the article is the W204, 2008-2009 model, and facelifted in 2010-2012.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Hey, I actually have one of these – and not a coupe, either. Until I got one I didn’t think you could actually get a four door Mercedes sedan with a stick, but my car proves they exist.

      Unfortunately it’s not the crispest shifting manual gearbox I’ve driven, but it still beats a slushbox.

  • avatar
    Burger Boy

    I really enjoy a good manual, but any more I have to consider that when I eventually try to sell it I’ve eliminated at least half of my market. I understand that the automatics are better (than they used to be) and more efficient, but something is just lost…and don’t try to convince me that paddle-shifters are just like shifting a manual, some idiot car salesman tried that one a few years ago when I bought my Corvette.

    I guess I’m just a dinosaur, but I’m going to miss manuals when they soon disappear altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      May be just opposite. Less and less new sticks are sold, so the used market may be popular and you even make an extra $$$ for the stick

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        That’s my theory, and it’s what I’ve seen as a buyer.

        It does depend on the car though – hard to imagine a Hummer H3 demanding a premium for the manual. For me, that was easily the biggest surprise on this list.

  • avatar

    What’s even more odd about that particular X3 is that it has navigation, which was rare on the 1st-gen X3. Mind you, it is the pre-iDrive interface, but still…

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    My buddy has a 2012 Volkswagen Passat diesel with a manual transmission. He said he had to search inventory all over the country to find it and offered the dealer list price to swap for it.

    Regarding family cars like the Fusion and the Sonata that theoretically are available with stick shifts in the US, it seems to me that the automakers build a few at the beginning of the model year and then don’t build any more.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      Ford dealer near me has 5 Fusion SE’s with a manual in stock along with 12 Foci was shocked to find this as I think with the previous generation they had 1 fusion and I think it was there as a joke. While getting my 36,000 mile servicing the other day was talking to they mechanic and he was telling me its the first time in a long time they have seen a spike in manual transmission sales

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’ve seen a couple current Optimas and last-gen Fusions with sticks (albeit in Canada), but I’ve never seen a current Sonata with three pedals.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I’ve actually seen a late 90′s Passat with the optional W8, Syncro and a 6-speed manual. Must be a rare bird.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Until someone figures out how to make an auto box cheaper and more reliable than a manual there will always be a market in areas where cost, reliability and ease of repair are more important than paint color, gadget connectivity and cup holders.
    To be honest people just need to get over their 1st world problems and learn to drive stick, it really is not that hard and you could still have nice paint, gadget connectivity and cup holders with the money saved by not taking the over engineered auto.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    A couple of disconnected comments. First, I saw a super nice Spanish red 1966 Chrysler 300 2-door hardtop in Hemmings a year or so – the car had a three-speed column-shift transmission. I thought that was amazing until I was talking with a parts guy who said that he’d had a guy come in wanting a clutch for a 1969 Newport.

    Second, we were in Costa Rica a year ago, and we not only didn’t see any American cars at all except for a 1965 Comet sedan on a car lot, but also didn’t ride in any vehicle, whether a Toyota Hi-Ace passenger van or a little red taxi that made a Corolla look large, that wasn’t both manual transmission and diesel powered.

    Third, one big reason for the lack of manual-transmission cars in the United States is that our government makes it too expensive to get each engine-transmission combination approved for sale in this country. We Have Too Much Government.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I thought that was amazing until I was talking with a parts guy who said that he’d had a guy come in wanting a clutch for a 1969 Newport.”

      What? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Sounds awesome.

      Also, “one big reason for the lack of manual-transmission cars in the United States is that our government makes it too expensive to get each engine-transmission combination approved for sale in this country.” This right here. It certainly hinders the creation of certain niche products.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        It was well into the 1960′s that manual transmissions were standard equipment on luxury marques, including Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns. You rarely saw them that way as they were ordered with the autobox, almost as a “mandatory” option.

        I can remember reading about this in two different places, years apart. One of the sources showed an invoice from a Chrysler (Newport, maybe?) showing the optional automatic transmission added to the manifest.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Around 1970ish, I owned a 1963 Chevy Station Wagon, with 3 on the tree and manual brakes and steering. I can’t really recall why I bought that car lol…………..It was actually a truck disquised as a car.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “one big reason for the lack of manual-transmission cars in the United States is that our government makes it too expensive to get each engine-transmission combination approved for sale in this country”

      Umm, yes, that’s why the cheapest cars available in the US almost always have a manual transmission available.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Manual transmissions in full-size cars have been rare for the past 40-50 years now. My dad ordered a 1971 LTD new with the 400 and a C6 automatic. Years later, I was shocked to find out that the base engine in the full-sized Ford was an inline 6. And even more shocked to find out that somebody we knew actually had a 1971 Ford with a 6 and 3-on-the-tree! The only one that I have ever knew about.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Manual transmissions in full-size cars have been rare for the past 40-50 years now.”

        Yes, and in fact, they’re not as common as they used to be in Europe for large cars either. Even in Europe back in the early 90s, an Audi V8 with a manual transmission was rare due to the size of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Years ago I saw a 67 or 68 Chrysler Newport 4 dr sedan with a 383 and 3-one the tree. It seemed odd you figured only the Fury’s would be available that way.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Actually, the 1st time I’d seen a manual as the OPTIONAL ($995) trans was the 2008 Challenger R/T. I had to stop and vomit into my helmet! Out of pure shame, Dodge has changed it so the ‘auto’ is now the “optional” trans at $1,100 (figures!).
      Then the anti-spin axle is still optional? In the R/T? With the 5.7 Hemi???

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      ” We Have Too Much Government.”
      Troll alert!!!
      You were making sense up till then…

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Another delightful manual is the Suzuki Grand Vitara, from 2005 to 2009?? (the revision that removed the V6 and manual option.) Ladder frame, transfer case, manual. Truly a collection of anachronisms in our modern age.

  • avatar
    deanst

    the original SC300 was offered with a manual, but not the SC400 – which is why I lusted after the 6 cylinder model only.

    I also remember that GM dropped a bunch of manual transmission Malibus into Canada in the 80′s that were originally intended for Iraq. They offered a much-coveted 3 speed transmission!

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I also wanted an SC300 instead of the V8, but it was because of a trip to a drag wars event. I still remember thinking that it was ridiculous to see an SC lining up. Then I saw the big drag radials. Then my mouth stayed open during its entire low 9 second run. There were several obscenely fast (heavily modified) SC300s running around.

  • avatar
    DucRam

    My strangest manual find was a 2000 Oldsmobile Alero. Until I saw it at my local Carmax, I never knew you could one with a 5-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Yup and you could have a J-body Cav with that combination. I believe both at the time used the same drivetrain (2.2 OHV).

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Grand Am and Alero were available with 4 cyl 5 speed. The 92-95 Grand Am manual was mated to the Quad 4. The 96-98 Grand Am manual was mated to the 2.4 Twin Cam. 99-01 Alero manual had the same combo, and in 2002, switched to the Getrag 5 speed and 2.2 ECOTEC. Cavs and Sunfires from 95-99 had the 2.2 OHV as the base engine, and the 2.4 as the uplevel GT/Z24 engine. In 2000, they switched to 2.2 OHV, with the 2.2 ECOTEC as the up model engine.

        Sadly you could never get the Alero/Grand Am with a V6/manual combo. The G6 rectified this with the 3.9V6/6 speed combo in the GTP.

        Prior to 95, you could get a Cavalier Z24 with the 3.1 V6 and 5 speed. That was a nice combo!

        I have a 2002 Alero manual with 2.2 Ecotec, just rolled 264,000 kms at lunch today. Sadly, I am pretty sure the body is going to rot to pieces before then engine quits. However its a cheap and reliable daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        The 2.2 OHV (Opel) motor was never available in the Alero or the Grand Am after the 1998 refresh. They were all Quad 4 after that. The last cars to roll with the 2.2 OHV were the Cavalier & Sunfires.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Then there was the chimera of the Aleros. Back in 2000, Car and Driver magazine tested a V6-speed Alero, but I’ve been told that none of the cars ever reached retail (or maybe even production).

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Nobody mentioned the original Ford Taurus SHO. From ’89 to ’91 it was ONLY available with a manual. Then from ’92-’95 it was an option. Unfortunately when the auto was offered SHO sales took off so Ford in their great wisdom dropped the manual in ’96. Those 5 speed SHO’s were fun cars to drive in their day.

    I do enjoy driving a manual over an auto but I don’t have that “romantic” attachment to the thing. I had the opportunity to drive a Ferrari with paddle shifters back to back with a Corvette and traditional manual. In that class I’ll go paddle shifters, but maybe it’s a Ferrari thing as there really is NO comparison of those vehicles.

    Manuals work well for me in the small econoboxes. Maybe it’s because they feel like driving a go-cart and having that connection to the road is fun…in a go-cart. Larger “family” sedans and such, I don’t really care. Point A to B city driving really isn’t spirited as the civil engineers designed the roads to have no spirit. For this my DD has a slush box that hasn’t given me one problem in over 10 years and 200,000 miles of mostly city driving (I service it regularly). There having creature comforts of a better trim level are far more desireable than rowing my own.

    • 0 avatar
      DesertZero

      There were manual Tauruseseses even before that! My brother had an ’86 MT-5 as one of this first cars. That car was a lot of fun for a 16 year old. Hell, it’s probably still a lot of fun for us 15 years later.

  • avatar
    DasFast

    Does anyone have access to stats showing how many cars in Canada are purchased with a stick? I know that our market is far more focused on the small (and cheap) end of the market, and I’m guessing the uptake rate for manuals also show a much different picture than South of the 49th.

    I remember reading an article on American car theft rates that stated one of the best ways to avoid having your car stolen is to opt out of an automatic, as so few people know how to drive anything but. It was surprising to hear as that is very far from my observation living in Alberta. For that matter, even when teaching my Grandma to drive at the age of 77, she cut her chops on my 5 speed diesel Landcruiser. Suppose I could have cut her some slack at that age, but my thinking was we’d never get going fast enough in that thing to get into much trouble.

    Don’t get me started on the huge amount of control a direct connection between engine and tires offers a driver in extremely slippery conditions…

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    My brother had an IS300 for a couple of years. I think I’ve only seen one other one in the wild since then.

    One Christmas he drove it from Oklahoma to Ohio as an automatic and drove it back a few days later as a manual.

    My levels of bravery do not attain to doing a full auto-manual transmission conversion of my only ride home over a Christmas break. More power to him.

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    I have a 1995 Mercedes E320 wagon with a 3.6 AMG motor swapped in it. I am going to be converting the car to a 5 speed manual this year. I was able to get a complete tranny swap off a 1986 300e at a local junkyard. I just picked a custom lightweight flywheel off a group buy to do the swap. Once completed, I will have a very unusual and fast Merc W124!

  • avatar
    BTEFan

    Maxima Manuals are marvelous! We have a 2002 3.5 6 speed that we bought and a 2001 20th Anniversary 5 speed that we are trying to sell.

    No bites on the 2001, and I think we have it competitively priced, but we are attempting to sell it in Vancouver where no one knows what to do with a third pedal. Tried looking for a newer (2004-2005) Maxima manual but they all were ordered as ‘introductory level’ spec, so they have the wierd cloth seats and piggy bank sunroof.

    Cadillac CTS were offered with a manual option in both generations with the V6. If you look hard, you can also find the odd 1st Gen Mazda6 V6 5 speed manual out there, or a Camry SE 4 cylinder.

    • 0 avatar
      fatalexception04

      The last maxima’s with the stick were real nice. They had those sport bucket seats in the back two with the arm rest/divider. Nice touch. I’d strongly consider a new maxima if it had stick.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m the only person that liked the IS250.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    One more unusual stick for the group… the Lexus ES250.

    http://karakullake.blogspot.com/2011/10/carspotting-1989-1991-lexus-es250-with.html

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    My 2005 xB has a stick. This isn’t particularly strange here, but I guess they (Toyota bB) never came in MT in Japan.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Dodge Caravan used to have stick

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’ve seen a handful of current Sportages and Tucsons with the manual, which would be more interesting if the shift quality wasn’t completely atrocious (and also, if they weren’t crossovers).

    For that matter, I’ve also driven an IS250C with the six-speed, which just seems like an odd combination – 204hp hauling around upwards of 3800 leisurely topless pounds doesn’t seem like it’d go hand in hand with driving involvement. I’d gladly dive a regular manual IS though, even with the less than ideal shift quality (likewise the W204 C-Class).

    It also makes me sort of happy that the Subaru Outback is still available with the manual, even if they phased out the Legacy wagon and the turbo motor.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Saab 9 3 as late as 2005 ca me with a stick they are hard to find ,took me about 9 months to find my vert and the take rate on stick jetta sports wagons in tdi wears is quite high, I would assume the same for golfs. As well.

  • avatar
    ReturnofSAM

    +1 on the Mazda5. The Juke also has/had a manual available.

    Regarding leaving manuals only for stripper models, I think manufacturers need to reconsider their demographics. People who want manual transmissions are very passionate of that choice. Why not make those people pay more to satisfy their passions by making them buy higher content vehicles?

  • avatar
    cargogh

    “…who then list it on AutoTrader with a bunch of interior photos angled away from the center console.” and “…the second-gen dropped the wagon in favor of a hardtop convertible meant for divorcees who didn’t quite get a large enough settlement for an SC430″ killed me. Very funny.

    An X3 parked beside me the other day and for the first time ever had some appeal because it was a manual. Didn’t know those were available.
    I had never heard of any GranD Cherokees with manuals. That might be fun. Thanks CoastieLenn.

    It took me a long time to finally find a 740 Turbo wagon with a manual. It allows good outward visibility.

    The rarest manual I’ve ever seen was my friend, Debbie’s. Her dad got her a baby blue ’78 Monte Carlo with a 4-speed back in ’82. It wasn’t that fast, so it must have been a V6 or a 305.
    The shifter was just a bit shorter than the Ram’s.

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    You can’t get a manual transmission in a Ford or Chevy pickup? Crazy! How can you drive a real pickup without a manual tansmission? Thank you Dodge for continuing (for now)a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    I don’t understand the analysis of things like gas mileage or comparing efficacy of MT vs the newer ATs. Driving a stick is just fun, period. I’ve driven exclusively MTs for over 30 years now, and it’s all I would do. I count it as one of life’s pleasures. Come time for my next car, I’ll check the MT box on the car-finder and consider nothing else. And screw paddles too.

    My favorite MT cars have always been larger sedans where you don’t expect to find a stick. I had a ’91 Audi 200 Turbo Quattro and then a ’95 S6 both with MTs, and they were just awesome cars: large Euro luxury AWD sports sedans with 5 cylinder turbos and a stick. If you want a larger sedan with AWD and MT today, what is there? The Acura TL. Anything else?

    Actually, even better than a sedan would be a wagon, but I may just give up hope on a large AWD, MT wagon ever gracing our shores again.

  • avatar
    Sooke

    I suspect a lot of manuals die early because a low fluid level cooks a bearing. This happened twice on my otherwise bulletproof 87 Nissan Kingcab. I guess I was like most do-it-yourself owners – too lazy to crawl under the vehicle to check the gear oil level.

    My Suburu Impreza is the first car I’ve ever seen with a dipstick under the hood for checking the manual transmission fluid level.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Brand stinking new Honda Accords! It trips me out that you can get a full size mainstream sedan with a manual in this age of nine speed transmissions and gamed EPA cycles. Alex’s review had me lusting after one for some odd reason.

  • avatar
    AnsonYu

    I’m late but a rare beast would be a 1973 Chevrolet Bel Air 250/4.1L I6 3-on-the-tree. I never heard about one until I saw one for sale.


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