By on March 22, 2014

6-speed manual transmission

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across a website that purports to be “A guy’s post-college guide to growing up.” Normally I avoid websites like this. I learned about the manly arts the old fashioned way, dangerous experimentation, but since I have been wrestling with an especially verdant crop of nose hair recently I thought I might find some grooming tips and so I decided to check it out. Amongst all the articles on slick, greasy-looking haircuts, sensual massage techniques and the power of positive self-development, I found this handy beginners’ guide on how to drive a stick shift. Since it was one of the only things on the site I had any real experience with, I looked it over and decided it was pretty good. Naturally, I thought I would share it.

Like sword fighting and bare knuckle boxing before it, driving a car with a manual transmission is on the verge of becoming a lost manly art. One day soon I expect to tune into the History Channel and hear someone explain how archeologists think these devices might have worked and watch as historic re-enactors dress up in their oldest bell bottoms and tie dyed shirts in order to drive around in their automatic transmission equipped replicas while making shift noises and pretending to step on a clutch pedal that isn’t there.

You keep both hands on the wheel, Frankie. I’ll handle the stick.

OK, perhaps I am being just a little facetious here, but let’s face it, manual transmissions are moving out of the mainstream and there will come a time when only cars aimed at the enthusiast market will bother to offer them. History tells me, of course, that it wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things that all cars had manual transmissions. Some people will say they also had crank starts, hand-operated chokes and manual spark advance too, and that no one ever laments the loss of those things. It is, they will say, the price we pay for progress. The old things go away, replaced with new things that serve the masses better and, despite the fact that a few people may lament their loss, the fact is that vast majority will hardly notice their absence.

That’s not going to be the case with the manual transmission. Learning to shift your own gears is a right of passage. It is something that people grew up watching their elders do and upon a child’s entry into adulthood, the skill was handed down across the generations, person to person. With few exceptions, those clever, intrepid people who had the gumption to teach themselves, every one of us who knows how to work a stick learned from someone else.

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I started out the way most young people do, pretending to row the gears in an old broken down Opel Kadette in my parents’ garage and eventually wheedled a lesson from my older brother Tracy who took me out in his, then, fairly new 1978 Nova. It was a pretty little car, a red on red two door coupe that had a 250 cid six cylinder under the hood and was as utilitarian as they come. I started out shifting gears from the passenger seat to get the feel of the shift lever and by the time I slipped over behind the controls had a fairly good idea of what I needed to be doing with my hands. Learning how to work the pedals took a little longer but, with my brother’s encouragement, I eventually got the hang of it.

I won’t say the experience changed my world, but it did open up a part of it that is, unfortunately, closed to many young people today. By the time I got my first car, a slightly older six cylinder three speed manual Nova of my own, there was no doubt about my ability to work the thing and, over the years and in the many manual equipped cars that would follow, I built upon the skills my brother taught me.

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Running a car with a manual transmission connects man and machine in a way few other things can. In that same way the bumps and judders transmitted to a driver’s fingers through steering wheel gives one a connection to the pavement rushing beneath their seat, the vibrations transmitted to the palm of your hand by a shift ball and the sole of your left foot by the clutch pedal gives you a direct connection to a car’s drive train. Also, because you don’t have computer managing your engine speed and choosing the best gear, a manual transmission forces you to watch your gauges, to monitor the tachometer, and to actively think about the process of driving. These things pull driver and car together and when a driver has real focus they can join with the vehicle in the way that jockeys talk about becoming one with the animal during a race. That experience is, in a nutshell, enthusiasm is its purest form.

As a fat, hairy, old-school ape man, I have a special disdain for the “self-improvement” media and magazines that try to tell young men what it means to be a man while, at the same time, attempting to sell them a plethora of products to make them ever softer and ever more sensual, but this time I think they nailed it. Perhaps driving a manual is no longer a skill that every man must have, but it is a skill that every man – and every woman, really – should aspire to. It doesn’t matter if you learn if from your brother or a magazine, just get out there and learn it before it’s too late.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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228 Comments on “The Manly Art Of Stick Handling...”


  • avatar

    Test – Sorry, but I must have inadvertently locked the comments. Derek tells me he’s working on it. Thanks for your patience.

    • 0 avatar
      Rich Fitzwell

      Good Morning TK, it is Sunday morning and I am praying for a TTAC GM post on the lies told by GM about their bailout numbers-

      see here:

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-22/feds-probe-gm-over-ignition-problem-bankruptcy-fraud

      would create alot of hits TK, let’s go go go!!

    • 0 avatar

      My dad taught me to drive a manual when I was 9, on the ’57 Plymouth, which had a monster clutch! I wouldn’t own a slushbox.

      I consider it my duty to teach kids to drive stick. One of my best former pupils, a young woman, has a Forester with a clutch. My other best former pupil was also a woman. But she now lives in Manhattan with her husband and their only car, which he bought new before she came into his life, is a ’93 3-series, has a slushbox.

  • avatar

    We have a salesperson at our dealership who can’t drive manuals. On a sadder note, I once had an employee (not at dealership) who had to call me on my phone to ask how to drive the automatic I gave her keys to because she had only ever driven manuals her whole life.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Whiteman

      I learned to drive using a long driveway and my dad’s 1978 MGB. I did a lot of driving in 10-20 foot increments. Since then I’ve gotten my own MG and a new Subaru (in 2006). Both are manual transmissions.

      I regularly claim to not know how to drive an automatic, and I mean it. I don’t know how to use the throttle get an automatic to shift down when I want it to and I can’t handle the lack of pattern in the “sport mode” selecting gears by hand (I’m always shifting the wrong direction).

      And of course I tend to step on the “clutch” when I come to a stop. Passengers don’t appreciate that very much, since the missing clutch is replaced by a giant-sized brake pedal.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        Hah! My daily driver is manual but did learn to drive automatic initially. I drive one so rarely though that I get confused when I’m driving an auto too. I couldn’t figure out how to start my boss’ car the other day until I remembered I had to start it with my foot on the brake. I do the same things as you.

      • 0 avatar
        steevkay

        I’m sure it’s strange getting used to how those autos work, and it’s very dependent on the programming. My car still uses a (now) ancient 4-speed auto, but coming out of turns, I know how far I need to push the throttle so that it kicks down a gear and gives me some power, but otherwise, it upshifts early for fuel economy. Despite only having 4 ratios (it still has an Overdrive button! with that turned off, it’s a 3-speed!!!!) it does a good job of knowing when I need the power and when it can upshift early.

        • 0 avatar

          > I know how far I need to push the throttle so that it kicks down a gear and gives me some power

          Even if you’re to consider the gas pedal as some kind of power level requester there’s a difference between low throttle in higher rpm and high throttle in lower rpm despite same resultant output, and this depends on driving situation the computer cannot know.

          The newer smarter autos try to guess based on recent history or what else is going, which makes your technique of remembering the position at which it shifts useless.

          There’s no perfect solution to this until the car is completely aware of both the road ahead and what’s in your head.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      My first car was a 1937 Buick Special two door sedan, given to me by my father in 1968. I already knew the theory behind a manual transmission, the Buick had a very forgiving clutch. Within 20 minutes I was competent.

      I have no sympathy for the “can’t drive a stick” crowd. More like “I don’t want to be bothered.”

      My first wife was at least honest. “There’s an easier way to do it, why would I want to learn the hard way?”

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Frantz

      My wife is like that. Never owned an auto, never drives them unless there is no other choice. The first time she had to as an adult was in San Fransisco with several partners of a major law firm in the back seat of a rental car. She proceeded to lay a massive smokey burnout at one of the hills because she was sure the thing was going to roll backwards on her when she let off the brake. Needless to say this elevated her to legend status among the office gossipers.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Did you tell her 1 is first, 2 is second D is for drag and R is for race?

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Indeed, shifting makes you drive. Not look at your cellphone, look in the mirror etc. I’ve always loved the feel of a manual and drive one today. Probably one of the last hold outs. Soon, they will get rid of the standard shift on bikes too.. Just make everything as drab as can be.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Your username seems to belie the true nature of your comment. I thought looking in the mirror(s) was what they taught you to do frequently.

      Do I know how to drive a stick? Yes.

      Am I smug about it, or bitter/snobbish towards those who don’t know how? I try not to be.

      Is it my DD? No, because I got my car before I learned, and it’s more responsible for me to keep it as long as possible rather than go chasing after something else.

      Should I stop talking now? Probably.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        Halftruth be told, I got into sticks due to the repeat tranny failures I experienced. I tired of the cost and hassle to replace an automatic. So I said never again to autos and have been driving sticks since. Do I prefer it? Close call. My wallet? Definitely.
        I’ve yet to even replace a clutch so I would say I made the right choice.

        • 0 avatar
          dantes_inferno

          Preach On, Brother Halftruth! Preach on!

          From a fellow owner of two manual tranmission vehicles (car and truck)… Every vehicle I’ve owned had (or has) a stick, except for one.

          No manual, no sale!

          • 0 avatar
            Synchromesh

            I’m with you guys! My first car was a hand-me-down automatic but since then I only owned manual cars. And as long as I can I will only drive those!

        • 0 avatar

          I agree, that is one of the reasons I will balk at autos for the foreseeable future, Halftruth.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          How could you have repeat auto transmission failures? Did you buy used, not realizing they were bad? Did you like to drive in “low” at highways speeds? There’s something you’re not telling us.

          I’ve never had a transmission failure. Then again, my first dozen cars had mostly Powerglides, Torqueflites, Ford C4′s and Turbo-Hydramatics, all of which could handle more torque than the engines they were mated to.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Lorenzo! Though autos are still rare in Brazil, I have a few friends with them already and two have reported problems. One had a Honda Civic 2008 or 09 and my brother with his Ford Fusion I think of similar vintage. Both were shockingly expensive to fix (yes I’m in Brazil an all).

            To be fair, I’ve managed to bust two clutches. One I was being young and stupid and not slowing down for speed bumps, in a Fiat Uno 20 yrs ago and also in a Dodge Dakota Ext. Cab 4×2 (“rock crawling”, not really but I was forcing it on dirt “roads”) about 10 yrs ago. In both cases I was far from home and I managed to limp the cars backs home (both cases about a 350km trip).

            As to actually destroying a manual gearbox, have never known anyone with that problem. I’ve know a couple of times someone I know changing a synchro or two because of lack of oil (because of a physical trauma that punctured a hose), but in the cases I heard, the noise immediately made the people take the car to the mechanic and damage was limited and they didn’t lose the whole gearbox.

            Though auto transmission failures are getting rarer, I think it’s fair to say they’re much more common that actuallu loosing a whole gearbox on a manual, though clutches are a different matter.

        • 0 avatar
          mikedt

          And they’re only getting more expensive to service. 8+ speeds, dual clutches, too complicated to work on, etc. Nobody “repairs” them anymore, they just charge you for a new one and drop it in. The miser in me will stick with sticks.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      To be honest, CVT hubs for bikes are the best thing ever. I’d much rather use one of those than the alternative.

      I’m not really against CVTs in cars either.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        kaosaur

        “CVT hubs” aren’t those really planetary gearsets? I’m actually just asking as I’m not really into biking but I find new bike gear to be pretty cool

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        The idea of an automatic transmission on a bicycle has always seemed absolutely ridiculous to me, until now. A CVT is a concept I’d be interested in trying, as long as you can still set and adjust cadence while riding at least as easily as with a conventional modern drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      “Indeed, shifting makes you drive. Not look at your cellphone, look in the mirror etc.”

      One of my GF’s in university used to drive standard and talk on the phone all the time. Grip phone in normal thumb and index finger position and quickly drop phone from head to shift using dimple where lower outside portion of wrist meets hand when required. Kinda disconcerting, but funny to watch at the time.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “One day soon I expect to tune into the History Channel and hear someone explain how archaeologists think these devices might have worked and watch as historic re-enactors dress up in their oldest bell bottoms and tie dyed shirts in order to drive around in their automatic transmission equipped replicas while making shift noises and pretending to step on a clutch pedal that isn’t there.”

    I confess, I didn’t learn to drive stick until I was 32 years old (I’m pushing 37 now) there were no stick shift vehicles in the family and the only time my Dad got to practice his skills was at work where he would occasionally have to slip behind the wheel of various commercial vehicles that were used to haul large pieces of agricultural equipment to where it needed to go.

    My teacher was my 2nd (and current) wife whom at age 25 was teaching me to drive stick. Her only vehicle was a 2005 Pontiac Vibe 5-speed and she told me: “I’m sick of doing the driving whenever we take my car, you need to learn.” Over a few days of patient practice in July 2009 I did.

    Now I’m starting the search for my next vehicle and I’m intending to get a stick while I still can. Not because I somehow think driving stick is more authentic or makes me better than someone who can’t but because I honestly think that soon manual trans will only be available in enthusiast vehicles. I want a sedan suitable for family use ($25,000 or less) and I am making it my mission to drive them all even if I have to drive 300 – 500 miles to find a dealer who actually has one in stock.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a hunch its the last year for Fusion manuals. The manual is the only 2014 Fusion with the 1.6 and I’ve only seen a few. There is some hope though because I think only Americans refuse to learn manual. In Australia you actually have to learn manual first for your drivers exam.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @Frantz, I agree with you that many Americans do tend to not want to learn how to drive a manual. One reason is because 95% of every vehicle on a dealer’s lot is automatic; you have to special order one in many cases. The cars with sticks the dealer does have are generally low-cost leaders that might come with A/C and power windows. The second reason is Americans, on the whole in my experience, are regrettably homebodies, too timid to travel outside their comfort zone. Anyone who travels overseas is familiar with the over-whelming majority of rental cars in Europe, Asia, and Australia are manuals. You’d be hard-pressed indeed to find a manual transmission at the Rental counter in the States.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like a strange leap of reasoning: “soon manual trans will only be available in enthusiast vehicles”, therefore “I’m intending to get a stick while I still can”. How does it connect? You discounted one link “is more authentic or makes me better”, but provided no other.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @PeteZ, I’m saying that I agree with Thomas in that the manual is quickly disappearing from mainstream vehicles. I want one because I do feel more connected to the vehicle when I drive one, I hate the way 99% of automatics are programmed for maximum fuel economy at the sake of everything else. I was also trying to say that just because I know how to drive a manual and enjoy it, that doesn’t mean I’m “better” than someone who doesn’t know how to or doesn’t enjoy it. We certainly have members of the B&B who look down on anyone who doesn’t own and enjoy stick shift cars.

        @Frantz, I think you might be right. The Fusion is in a weird place with engines and option packages. Base S 2.5 can be had with manual or automatic but since it sells largely to fleets, I’d wager few with the manual are ever built, let alone found on a Ford Dealer’s lot. The SE model can be had with a manual but ONLY with the 1.6 Ecobost, the automatic SE is now coming with a 1.5 Ecobost standard. I’m guessing the 1.6 will be dropped at some point and with it the manual trans. The 2.0 Titanium can’t be had with a manual in any configuration. The only SE manuals I find within a few hundred miles of me are all in Colorado oddly. You wouldn’t think a mountainous state would be a popular place to have a stick.

        Altima dropped the manual during the last redesign, Camry dropped the manual during the last refresh, Sonata dropped the manual option within a year or two of the current one being introduced, the Optima no longer has a manual trans (at least I can’t find it in the configurator at KIA), Subaru dropped the manual Legacy…

        Honda and Mazda are unusual in offering the manual in trim levels other than the bare bones models. Buicks can only be had with stick in the top performance models. Technically the Cruze is midsize by EPA measurements and you can get the stick with any engine except the diesel (ironic huh). I have also generally found (by searching inventory) that almost every Chevy dealer has at least one manual LS Cruze, ECO Cruze, and LT Cruze in stock. Dodge Dart GTs are even hard to find with the manual in my area.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if by the end of the decade only niche vehicles will have manual transmissions available. Heck it’s hard to get a 1/2 ton truck with a manual now!

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          You can add VW to your list, there are a few manual transmission Passats to be had, mostly with the Diesel engine.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          I had to special order my 2013 Dart Limited with a 1.4T/manual trans. Now I see you can’t get a manual in the Limited for 2014 at all. Boo hiss Chrysler. The powertrain is tested/certified in the platform – let me order it in whatever trim level I like.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Out of all the cars you mentioned, the Fusion was my preference, although mine is a PHEV which naturally has a CVT. But since a MT Fusion is such an uncommon vehicle, I’m not sure I’d get one for parts availability reasons. I’d assume that if I bought a MT Fusion, I’d be keeping it until it was fully depreciated, as I can’t think it will be an easy thing to sell. You’re looking at a unique engine and transmission setup, and as we all know, when cars get around the 100,000 mile mark things like alternators, fuel pumps, coil packs, and those damnable plastic cooling system components start to fail. If you’re car is a rare one, you may need a rental for a few days while the manufacturer sends the part in from their national warehouse, it may not be stocked locally.

          I’ve only seen a handful of Fusions, Mazda6s, and Passats available with manual transmissions in local inventories, but MT equipped Accords are plentiful, particularly at the Sport trim level. If an Accord meets your needs and suits your fancy, that’s the way I’d go.

          I’ve been driving MT cars for the last 40 years, and I’ve made the switch to an automatic, in my case a CVT. I do believe that we’ve come to a point in automotive technology where it makes sense for the same digital controls that optimize the engine’s behavior to also control the rest of the drivetrain. I had a rental Corolla for a week, which was equipped with a CVT and paddle “shifters”. I tried driving with the paddles for a while, and finally came to the conclusion that the car did a much better job of managing the drivetrain than I did.

          It used to be that automatics were terrible for performance driving. You’d go into a corner under braking, and the transmission would shift to some high gear because there was no load. Then, as you approached the apex and added power, it would downshift once or twice in the middle of the turn, usually creating a major wiggle. Current automatic transmissions don’t do this as badly, and many of them have a manual selector available.

          I will have to say that I do miss shifting a little, but not as much as I thought I would. Now, instead of managing the gears, I’m trying to optimize my braking to get as much regenerative braking as possible. That may seem like a poor substitute, but the in the reality of suburban driving, it’s actually more valuable than is shifting.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I am in a similar situation to you in that no one in my family had manuals when I was first learning to drive. I just haven’t had many chances since to get exposed to them and no one readily at hand to teach me.

      This post is timely in that I have decided at 41 years old that I will learn how to drive manual this spring/summer. I have a friend who is willing to teach me and plan on picking up a beater second car to get more practice with.

      Part of me says why bother, but the other half says that it is just something I need to learn even though I may rarely get the opportunity to use the skill.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        ubermensch

        If I may I’d say you don’t have to get a beater to learn stick, you aren’t going to be damaging it in the learning process. I can’t even count how many people I’ve taught to drive stick on my various cars, with no ill effects.

        The key is to ride passenger first with a talented (not just proficient) stick driver and just stare at the feet while they do things slowly. Then balance the car for a few seconds using the clutch and gas in a flat parking lot with a slight dip in it (no steep hill required.) Step three is to try a few shifts in motion, just until you’ve gotten a few shifts right. Then sleep on it, this is the most important and most omitted, step. The next day you will be able to perform a grocery run with no drama. I make everyone I teach learn a technique at most per day, the sleep cycle is the most important part (provided you take it seriously and think about shifting right before going to sleep.) Another great technique for tactile learning is to juggle for a bit after you’ve done something right, entering any kind of trance state really does drill things right into muscle memory.

  • avatar
    iwasntspeeding

    A few dozen drivers who read this website care. The tens of millions of other drivers don’t care one single bit. Ferrari doesn’t care, Lamborghini doesn’t care, within a year or two Acura probably won’t care. And the old excuses “an M22 four speed is faster and gets better mileage that a 2 speed Powerglide” are completely over. Ask the Porsche 911 GT3. I’m only grumpy because, as one of the few dozen drivers who does care, I’m quite upset about the manual’s demise, and I agree with this article. I’ll even go one step farther to say that people should know how to drive a motorcycle just in case that’s your only escape method during the zombie apocalypse. On the up side I read an article recently (probably on TTAC) that the manual transmission take rate for new cars has increased from like 3.9% to 4.2%. Hey, better than nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/quebecs-obsession-with-no-frills-cars/

      I’m not worried. As long as Quebec is buying cars, there will be manual transmissions.

      I see Mazda sticking to them to the end, also.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I see Mazda sticking to them to the end, also.

        I’m really interested in test driving a Mazda 6 Touring with manual just to try out the stick. I was reading that Mazda says they tuned the manual to be part of the Skyactiv system as well. Shifts are intended to be as short and direct as possible to make the shifts more efficient to maximize fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          There’s a lot of manufacturer to manufacturer variation in shifts, yet even very different vehicles from the same manufacturer will have a similar feel. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to who has the good shift sticks, either: Toyota did, but Nissan not so much. Rover (!) had excellent shift stick feel. Even the Land Rovers.

          There’s a very practical reason for getting a stick: Crime. These days your average 19 yr old punk drug addict can’t drive one. A kid out of college living in a basement apartment in a sketchy neighborhood should definitely prefer a stick if offered.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            So true – car theft probability goes way down with a stick shift. A sad commentary, but with an upside for those of us with stick shift cars.

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    >> “Running a car with a manual transmission connects man and machine in a way few other things can. (…) That experience is, in a nutshell, enthusiasm is its purest form.”

    Oh, come on. Manly? Really? My grandmother drove a stick-shift until she was 97. Millions of drivers outside the US drive vehicles with manual transmissions every day. For most of the world, an automatic-transmission car is the reserve of the super-rich or the physically-handicapped. In Europe for example you have to learn to drive on a manual, otherwise you can only get a restricted license.

    Driving a manual-transmission vehicle is not hard, it’s not special, and it’s definitely not a “lost manly art” – except in one country on the planet. The only people harping on about the “manly” qualities of manuals like it’s some kind of voodoo-jujitsu shit are a bunch of naive American males who need to stop projecting their onanist obsessions into the automotive field. :)

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The whole manual thing here is like hipster fashion–it’s a big deal because it isn’t popular. If manuals were more common, enthusiasts wouldn’t make a big deal about it.

      Personally, I’m not concerned at all because technology progresses, and there will be autos that are indeed better than manuals. One of my friends, a former devout worshiper of the third pedal, recently bought a BMW with an auto, and he’s now an auto convert.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        There was a time, probably not coincidentally when I was in my early 20s, when I knew plenty of people that were becoming manual transmission converts as they traded in the cars of their school days for nicer cars purchased with money earned in their first post-college jobs. Many years later, I’ve seen a goodly percentage of my friends go back to automatics, either due to marriage or grid-lock. I still prefer manuals, and I wish there were more manual options, but I don’t begrudge people that get cars that work better for them in the conditions they drive or live. I just wish more people were smart enough to comprehend why an automated-manual is in no way a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > The whole manual thing here is like hipster fashion–it’s a big deal because it isn’t popular. If manuals were more common, enthusiasts wouldn’t make a big deal about it.

        Screw the hipsters – they’re too busy with their self-gratification activities to even care.

      • 0 avatar

        Redav, I agree. Here in Brazil, where manuals still dominate by a large margin, one hears a lot of enthusiasm for autos. I believe it’s partly for the reason you give, since autos are rare there is that whole the “grass is always greener on the other side” mentality going on.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        A manual has nothing to do with hipster. If anything, it’s the geezers who want to drive stick because that’s what they grew up with.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          The point is not that skinny, high-water jean wearing millennial dorks drive manuals. (Everyone knows they ride single-speed bicycles.) Rather, it is the perception of a fierce independent streak that personifies hipsters also personifies internet car enthusiasts.

          Anyone who reads these sites knows enthusiasts make a big stink over manuals. I don’t believe this crowd includes many geezers who simply drive what they’re used to, because geezers aren’t that vocal. My point is that the reason so much noise is made is precisely because everyone else doesn’t care about manuals, hence proclaiming love for the manual is a way for them to be different/unique.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            Ah, I see. The enthusiastic manual drivers here are suffering from hipster-itis, regardless of their age. Their devotion to stick stems not from true love, but from their desire to appear different. This may be true, but I’m not getting that vibe.

            I’m more geezer than hipster — geezter? And I know driving a stick will make you a juicer! Yes, it’s the bee’s knees.

    • 0 avatar

      Zekele Ibo, if one came to this site from another country other than in the US, and read this article with no real knowledge of American life, it would seem like a rather strange article and comments indeed. Being that we know a little of our American friends, we can sorta of understand. Driving stick as manly will forever be an American exclusive.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        I did discover driving a manual gave me status points. And having a wife who drives stick made my guy co-workers tell me how lucky I was. I was afraid to tell them my sister can also drive a stick for fear they might hit on her. ;)

        This is in the U.S. For friends and acquaintances abroad, driving a stick is no more or no less special than breathing air. It’s essential, can be exhilarating, but only a big deal when you can’t.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I will be teaching my 17 daughter how to drive a stick this summer, I am lucky enough to have a summer vert that is a stick so that is what she will learn on. I debated getting my current car a Jetta sports wagon TDI as a stick , one of the few cars folks buy in large numbers with a stick, but 2 things stopped me , NYC metro traffic and more importantly my wife refuses to learn, we tried a long time ago and it did not end well at all, one exploded tranny. Will my daughter even drive a stick on a regular basis? I doubt it very much but in a jam she will be able to.

  • avatar
    imag

    Funny thing – the stick handling is the easy part. The footwork is where the real learning is at.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I couldn’t learn on my brother’s Acura Integra GS, for heaven’s sakes! Hondas of that vintage are as good as any on which to learn stick!

      I can start up OK and get into second-gear (friction-point and all that, though more torque the better), but once I have to exist in traffic, I’m simply not coordinated enough to control my left foot and right hand! (I also haven’t mastered the art of talking on the phone and driving, which is a good thing!)

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    The info-graphic makes it look needlessly complex, like for bragging rights. It’s also wrong where it says not to press the clutch for longer than necessary, it says that is ‘riding the clutch’ or burning it.

    Much better off keeping it simple as our fathers taught us: “Push the clutch down and shift. Now give it some gas.”

    It takes awhile to really get it, but once you own a manual for awhile, it requires basically no mental or physical effort to use. Same as an automatic. And you can downshift a few seconds before you need the power, which is fun.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I know we like the think of how “manly” driving a manual transmission car is, but remember that our grandmothers and mothers (depending on your age) did so and none of them batted an eyelash. It was a skill that you needed to learn and females were and are just a capable as men. In Europe, Asia, and Latin American millions of women row their own as they go about their way. For some reason, in North America it has devolved into a male/female thing.

    Last week, my friend took his E36 M3 to a car wash to have it cleaned. The twenty-something attendant took one look inside and said, “Uh, I can’t drive that.” So he went around to other staff asking for someone who knew how to drive stick. Finally a slightly older man appeared and he got in the car to move it to the washing conveyor. My friend was mortified as he heard the sounds of engine revs screaming, clutch popping, stalling, and restarting. Never again, he said to himself.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It was originally a male/female thing. In the days when manuals were far more common not just on sporty models, but the cars targeted towards families, even until the 1950′s, women were less likely to have driver’s licenses or do any driving duties even with a license. It’s all a holdover from the days of non-power steering and hand clutches, as well as even earlier than that, when the cars were horse-powered and physical strength was almost required.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember my school bus drivers, always women, handling those old school buses with manual transmissions while 50 kids screamed their heads off in the back. In the summers, they drove trucks for the pea canning plant. It amazed us kids to see our bus drivers handling those “big” trucks, but of course it never dawned on us that the buses we rode were even bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > I remember my school bus drivers, always women, handling those old school buses with manual transmissions while 50 kids screamed their heads off in the back.

        Same here. Ah, memories…..:)

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        One of my earliest automotive memories was is of a manual trans school bus. School day after day we were ferried to junior high by a middle-aged housewife who shifted as if the shift lever would break if she moved it too quickly. One day she wasn’t there – called in sick or whatever – and a bus maintenance worker drove in her stead. Young and male, he rowed that gearbox like a sports car. Very impressive for 11-year-old me.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Same here. I can still remember those old Internationals Uhhhwwwwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, uuh, uuuuhhhwwwwwaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, uuhh, up through the gears. Nearly all women drivers.

        I can still remember one day in Jr. High we had a brand new driver, and she did not know that our bus had *5* gears. Ran the thing down the highway in 4th with it screaming its lungs out. The shift pattern was worn off the knob…

        Then in High School I moved to a different (much wealthier) town where all the buses were diesel automatic pushers with screaming Detroit Diesels in them. Those were cool too. I guess this is why I got a work study job as a bus driver in Grad School. Always loved the things.

        But as to manuals. I prefer them. Historically they are cheaper, I can change a clutch in my garage but not rebuild an automatic, and I simply prefer to shift for myself whenever possible. Even on buses, actually. The MCI manual shift coaches were more fun than the transit-style Fish Bowls with the 2-speed auto.

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      I learned to drive stick on a 1982 Toyota Tercel with lessons from my older sister. My Mom’s great at driving manual but for some reason she’s an absolute nightmare with an automatic (she’s a left foot / foot resting braker). My 35-year-old wife just reluctantly bought her first automatic — apparently, rain-sensing wipers trumps row-your-own (thanks for that, Mazda USA). I enjoy it, but perhaps the only thing especially “manly” about driving stick is obsessing about it.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      @LeeK: If I had a Bimmer like that, I wouldn’t let anyone get behind the wheel for ANYTHING–car washes, whatever! (I’d even drive up to the valet stand, ask ‘em where I can leave this car, then when they start to bitch, slip ‘em a $50 or $100, then see if they still complain! If you can afford an M-anything (especially an older one’s care and feeding), money is presumably no object!)

      I’m a nervous-Nellie about my Honda Accord, fercrissakes!

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    There are two things I taught my 17 year old brother (15 yr difference in age) prior to selling the Outback; how to drive a manual and how to get a vehicle sideways and hold it (on snow/gravel mix) at the Idaho fairgrounds. He thoroughly enjoyed it and so did I.

    He ended up buying a manual Vibe, cool little utility wagon.

  • avatar
    mikey

    20 years ago, my then 17 year daughter dated this guy with Beretta or Cavalier with a stick, shift. I knew the guy was a stoner/drunk. I couldn’t stand him. Anybody that’s raised daughters know that Dads opinion doesn’t carry much weight.

    I did however, teach her, to drive a standard. I borrowed my buddys old and tired 81 Chevette. She caught on very fast. She practised on the drunk boyfriends car until she had it mastered.

    Then she dumped him! She loved driving a stick, and bought several maunual shift cars. Today she is highly successful business lady. She drives an Accura SUV, worth more than the our first house. She told me she wishes it came with a manual.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think it would great if everyone who is learning to drive and for several years afterwards are required by law to drive and underpowered manual.

    This will give a person an understanding of how to appreciate the characteristics of an engine and how best to keep this in tune with road conditions, driving dynamics, etc.

    Sadly with the advent of ever harsher emission regulations humans’ are probably considered incapable of knowing how and when to change gears to suit different driving environments.

    I do think the human mind is still better able to deduce what lies ahead and what is needed when driving. Car computers are reactive and not generative when driving.

    I was able to buy a manual high end pickup here in Australia and I’m glad I bought one.

    • 0 avatar

      Big Al, great point. I think driving a manual does give one a better sense of where the car is going, what’s necessary to do to get it going and thus a greater appreciation of and for the machine. Your other point, of underpowered cars is a reality, too. A stronger car is so much more forgiving in that giving it gas will likely “fix” a lot of the things that can go wrong while driving. An underpowered car almost forces you to be more aware of what you’re doing. Not only in the sense of not loosing speed, but also of calculating distances better, controlling and getting into the meat of the power band (and keeping it there) when necessary, among other things.

      Great post.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        marcelo

        Also, how to keep out of the power band. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this isn’t as big deal in Brazil, but up north stick aware drivers have a big advantage when dealing with snow. Understanding that the lower gears will overtorque your wheels and result in immediate over/under/torque steer is a huge advantage even in automatics.

        One can be a fine driver of an auto daily driver without learning stick, but learning stick gives you the knowledge base to hop in a wide variety of (auto equipped) cars and use them well without a lengthy learning curve.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey tedward,

          No, in most of Brazil, there’s no snow, but we have a situation that can resemble it. Heavy rain and dirt, which becomes mud and where you have to have a very light foot and sensitivity and not gun it or else you just get deeper and deeper in the muck.

          In my city, due to the hills, even a light rain can make it tricky to do a hill start. Takes finesse and a manual helps you out there.

          Yeah I know, many autos now have special programming especially for these situations, however I think that a manual driver, a good one, still has the upper hand in these situations. Don’t know how long that’ll still be true.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Running a car with a manual transmission connects man and machine in a way few other things can.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy this. Driving a stick quickly becomes a matter of habit, an activity that requires minimal engagement. That’s as it should be — the last thing that we should want on public highways is a group of drivers who can’t work a shifter without it driving them to distraction.

    What a stick does do is allow a driver to extract more performance out of a smaller engine, which can make it easier to live with less power (which is probably a good thing.) I’ve yet to drive a four-cylinder car that didn’t have compromised performance with a slushbox; you need at least two more cylinders to make up for the resulting loss.

    • 0 avatar

      Though I agree with you Pch101, after a while a manual driving becomes very automatic. But it does force you to pay more attention as the machine reacts more directly to your inputs. I agree though that this is heightened when driving a car with a smaller engine.

    • 0 avatar

      > What a stick does do is allow a driver to extract more performance out of a smaller engine, which can make it easier to live with less power (which is probably a good thing.)

      This isn’t quite the case for somewhat nuanced reasons. Full acceleration in both induces similar results: an quick downshift and shifts at redline. The manuals used to be slightly faster due to more gears and perhaps slightly faster shifting for those who don’t care about the clutch (or transmision) but that’s no longer the case.

      It’s really the in-between stuff, quick but not outright race pace, that manual *control* is better because only the driver knows when full throttle means short shifting or full bore, or back off to partial means upshift to cruise or hold at high rpm to anticipate acceleration. So often the drivetrain will be a gear off, which doesn’t matter as much when you have an excess of power.

      This control can be provided with a DCT or reasonably fast shiftable auto.

      • 0 avatar

        Your last paragraph, I think, is quite right. No one would say a manual is faster than an auto anymore, even on a racetrack. But out driving, the manual allows you to better anticipate, react and even force the situation on the car that an auto, no matter how smart, would balk at doing. Eventually, it could be that an auto will beat a manual even in these cases, but it’ll take a while. A manual still allows better ultimate control on normal road cars.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      Agreed, I’ve owned identical Xb1s and with only 100hp on board, the manual was much more fun than the auto. But I’m not exclusively a manual tranny guy mostly because I drive 25Kmi/yr and the constant shifting in freeway stop and go traffic can really put some wear and tear on your foot/knee/back. I’d love to always have one manual transmission car but I’m sometimes happy to let the car do it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I related to this. There are times I want my car to be an auto & times I want it to be a manual. I never warmed up to paddle shifters, and I have yet to drive an auto with what I’d consider a true manual mode. That being said, however, there really isn’t anything stopping us from building manuals without a clutch pedal. The clutch was only done that way originally because it was the simplest option.

        • 0 avatar

          In Brazil and in Europe too, there were many clutchless manuals w awhile back (late 90s). I drove a few, found it pleasurable enough, but at least in Brazil, being that they were more expensive than regular manuals, sales never took off and they were discontinued after a few years.

          I always though that was an intriguing idea and if they were available today I could just bite. Seems like a kind of good compromise.

  • avatar
    motorrad

    My son is 16 and I bought him a 99 Integra GSR 5 speed to drive. I told him it’s a dying skill and something he needs to learn. My wife drives a 2012 Wrangler with a manual and I drive a 2014 Mazda6 manual. My kid’s friends think it is “soooooo cool” that we drive sticks. Hopefully this is a good omen for the future and they will follow up by actually buying manuals when the time comes.

  • avatar

    The dirty secret of the manual driving club is the members are generally poor enough drivers that they’re better off with an auto at the limit anyway.

    It takes a reasonable amount of practice to toe heel perfectly while balancing the car on the line and looking far enough ahead to be safe.

    Otherwise it’s just something to do while driving.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    OK, I’ll bite. I started learning to drive stick when I was 12 years old(not yet a man), and just don’t make such a big deal about it. Usually it’s a thoughtless process, even as I engage engine braking to slow down. But if I want some fun coming into turn, timing my braking, heel and toeing, the coming off the brake pedal at the right time to rotate the car, now there’s some driver engagement for you.

    I do however reserve the right to condescend to auto driving sports car owners. But I will keep my peace.

    Drive what you like

  • avatar

    Manuals are an endangered species for good reason.
    Today’s drivers don’t want all the herky jerky motions nor rollback on incline. It’s too much hassle and not worth the trouble when I could be using my right hand for better things like texting or comforting my girlfriend.

    Ever drive a Nissan GT-R???

    All that power and all you’ve gotta do is floor the pedal and steer.

    An AWD with automatic and a shtload of power could turn my old-Nissan Sentra driving college-dropout-cousin Tiffany into the next MARIO ANDRETTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      “Ever drive a Nissan GT-R???

      All that power and all you’ve gotta do is floor the pedal and steer.

      An AWD with automatic and a shtload of power could turn my old-Nissan Sentra driving college-dropout-cousin Tiffany into the next MARIO ANDRETTI.”

      I disagree on many levels. Everyone I know who has driven the GT-R says that the car is absolutely boring when not driven at the limit. The only where you will ever be driving that car even near the limit is on a track.

      Someone who never has to be in tune with their car will never develop the skills to be a good racer. Computers will only carry them so far.

    • 0 avatar

      “herky jerky motions nor rollback on incline”

      Both situations have a very easy solution. To the first case, learn how to drive. I would even go so far out as to say that when you are with a great driver, a manual is even smoother than an auto.

      The second, have you ever heard of a hand brake?

      • 0 avatar

        > “herky jerky motions nor rollback on incline”. Both situations have a very easy solution. To the first case, learn how to drive.

        Yeah, srsly, “herky jerky” comes from not rev matching and thus requiring the clutch to absorb the entire momentum change of the engine.

        Even for the second case, inclines are pretty easy with a slightly altered toe-heel. It’s harder in torqueless cars because using the clutch to generate/multiply torque at low revs instead of engaging quickly and using the more linear engine can be tricky, but only requires some practice in hilly areas.

        The main issue in the US is the difficulty of finding a qualified instructor from a very small candidate pool. Manuals are almost certainly dead here in a generation because few parents will be able to teach their kids how to drive one.

        • 0 avatar

          “Even for the second case, inclines are pretty easy with a slightly altered toe-heel. It’s harder in torqueless cars because using the clutch to generate/multiply torque at low revs instead of engaging quickly and using the more linear engine can be tricky, but only requires some practice in hilly areas.”

          True, but sometimes, especially as I drive those torqueless cars you speak of, the hand brake just makes it easier. In my very hilly city in Brazil, on steep and easy inclines, when the light goes green, you see a lot of cars in front of you lowering their butts as the driver releases the hand brake and goes on his or her way!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Marcelo – Cars now have “Hill Holder”.

            Is that progress? Or the Final Insult???

            As a favour, I was parallel parking a manual Kia Soul for a girl on a steep hill. I let off the brakes to coast back into a spot and nothing happened. It just sat there for a couple beats and went all at once. It took me a second to realize what it was, and what it was for.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey DenverMike! If I’m not mistaken, here in Brazil even some manual cars now offer that tech. As a lot of similar tech, it’s more a selling point than anything really useful. I think that for autos it’s now the normal and if the car had an opposite reaction many would freak. On manuals it’s just weird.

            I remember driving a Nissan Maxima V6 my Dad had many years ago. As that was the first time I had driven an auto, i didn’t know about Hill Holder. I was there, at a red light, on a very hilly avenue, almost but not quite at the crest of the hill. Lots of cars piled up behind me and me worrying, “oh, this car doesn’t have a clutch, it’s so big and heavy, how am I going to keep it from going downhill?”

            Well, light turned green and I stomped on the go pedal. The car almost jumped over that hill! I look over and my Dad was laughing hard, then he told me of the feature!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Hey Marcelo! I haven’t seen the feature on an automatic, but I understand they have one-way sprags that limit the backward motion when in Drive. I’d rather not put a load them so I too don’t hesitate to get on the gas. But on very steep hills, I’ll hold the brake with my left foot, then ease off as I roll on to the throttle. That’s “power braking” which is another lost art with today’s drivers.

          • 0 avatar

            > But on very steep hills, I’ll hold the brake with my left foot, then ease off as I roll on to the throttle. That’s “power braking” which is another lost art with today’s drivers.

            Or aka left foot braking for performance driving. Best thing about DCT paddle shifters or even autos.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            All 9th-Generation (2013+) Honda Accords, stick and slush have this–not sure about the rest of the Hondas.

            IIRC, Subaru was the first to have this feature back in the ’80s or so.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Marcelo
        I had an interesting debate one day on another notorious site about the correct use of a handbrake.

        I the US they many think it’s an emergency brake, whereas here in Australia using a handbrake is taught to become instinctive to use as putting on your seatbelt. Oh, that’s can be an issue in the US also.

        The term we use for hand brake is park brake. It is mostly used when the vehicle is parked, always or on what we call hill starts.

        • 0 avatar

          Here in Brazil, especially in my area, everybody learns to use the hand brake, too. As I said, my city is very hilly, and it’s truly automatic to use the hand brake wherever and whenever you park. I remember, when I was younger, there was a “macho” thing not to use your hand brake when starting again from a stop on a hill. Even being young and stupid, I realized that not using the hand brake was really not smart, so I quickly incorporated its use into my daily driving. I make use of this technique almost everyday in my daily driving.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            When I was in Brazil, I noticed that most drivers used the parking brake every time they stopped, even at lights on flat ground. I never asked why, but I assumed it was so they could feel comfortable taking their foot off the brake pedal.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey redav! I wouldn’t say it’s most drivers, but certainly some of them do. I consider that behavior irrational and I don’t do it, but my wife used to do it, though nowadays, she doesn’t do it anymore (at least when she’s with me!). I think it’s because people get used to doing it on hills and then mindlessly replicate it elsewhere. I think doing it on flat ground, instead of just using the brakes, is just an example of mindless driving.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “Both situations have a very easy solution. To the first case, learn how to drive. I would even go so far out as to say that when you are with a great driver, a manual is even smoother than an auto.”

        I disagree, mainly due to the recent great articles about transmissions. In those, it was noted the difference in torque delivery during shifts. Traditional automatics have a smoothness advantage that is baked into their design which cannot be replicated with a traditional manual no matter how quickly or perfectly shifts are executed. However, one downside of that smoothness is delayed responsiveness, hence autos being called ‘slushboxes.’

        • 0 avatar

          Granted, I’ve never been in an 8 or 9 speed car, bt have been in plenty of 5 and 6s. In an auto you always feel the shift, even if ever so slightly. With a very good manual car driver, and I stress very good, you don’t feel a thing.

        • 0 avatar

          > In those, it was noted the difference in torque delivery during shifts. Traditional automatics have a smoothness advantage that is baked into their design which cannot be replicated with a traditional manual no matter how quickly or perfectly shifts are executed.

          In a transmission driven through discrete gears there’s no getting around the process of clutch disengagement/engine speed change/re-engage.

          In theory computers can do any control/feedback loop better than a human but they currently don’t match engine speed to minimize clutch friction, instead relying on the clutches (& viscous coupling) which produces the same jerkiness as a poor manual driver. This is apparent on downshifts.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Today’s drivers don’t…”

      Today’s drivers don’t know what the hell “Neutral” is for. I asked my cousin who was late 30′s male at the time, if he knew to put his Lexus in Neutral if the throttle stuck wide open. This was while he was driving us to lunch, so I tried to coax him into bumping the shifter into Neutral on the blvd. He said he wasn’t sure if the car would blow up, or flip or something. In total disbelief, I had to just let it go.

      “…don’t want all the herky jerky motions, nor rollback on incline…”

      1st, you can drive a manual as smooth as an automatic when you get good. And inclines are also no problem when you get good at it. Do not be afraid my son…

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    My first 2 cars were stick shift, but then I got married and my wife had no interest in learning it. We’ve driven automatics since then, but I missed the feel of using both of my feet for something, so I’ve always driven automatics with my left foot for the brake and right foot for the gas pedal. Occasionally, I do drive a stick shift and then I revert back to putting my left foot on the clutch and reserve the right for the brake and gas pedals.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    I’m old enough to remember the “regional” differences between manuals.

    Japanese cars always very easy, light and smooth.
    German cars precise, yet it needed more concentration to drive them flawlessly. Sometimes the clutch pedal was a bit of an on/off switch.
    French/Italian cars often shifted more vaguely.

    Many years ago a mechanic told me that Japanese cars were so easy to drive because the Japanese can’t drive a manual very well. So their domestic automakers made the whole shifting-process as easy and smooth as possible. No idea if this is (partly) true.

    I’m also old enough to remember that only expensive (executive) cars came with an automatic. Only disabled and elderly people drove an automatic. Of course I’m exaggerating, but a manual sure had nothing to do with “manly”, it was just the norm back then.

    This has all changed now, more and more automatics and semi-automatics.
    In all segments of the car market, all ages of the owners. But you still may not drive a car with a manual if you passed the driver’s license test in an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      Maybe you’re right. I had a stick shift Chevy Citation and then a stick shift Honda Accord after that. The Honda clutch was very light and was less “testy” to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Johannes Dutch

        And a Land Cruiser diesel shifts as easy and smooth as a Corolla gasoline. You can both drive them thoughtlessly and effortlessly.

        I once took a pretty new Land Rover Defender out for a spin. I thought I was in some old beater truck, what a mess.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Regional differences persisted until the last decade of the 20th century. When the Germans tried to copy Japanese control weighting, they lost the plot, imo.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Ha ha ha. My wife’s 2005 Vibe has a crap shifter in my opinion, long throws and as satisfying as moving a wooden spoon through a bowl of too thick dough. So I’m hoping that the “Matrix in Pontiac clothing” does NOT exemplify Japanese shift quality.

        • 0 avatar
          Sammy B

          It absolutely does not. Our family has had 12 Toyotas with sticks (starting with 1974), 3 Hondas, 4 Nissans, 1 Mitsubishi, and 1 Mazda. Mix of sedans [camrys, corolla, Sentra SE-R, civic, maxima SE, mazda6 wagon], van [84 toyota van], truck [99 tacoma], and sports cars [1990 Eclipse GSX, 82 celica, 87 supra]. Also currently have an 06 Matrix.

          I can safely say the rough stick in the Matrix is the WORST. Don’t let that one ruin your perception. I’ve driven a manual miata and I must say that gearbox and the ones in Hondas are really excellent. The S2000 shifter just feels PERFECT. Next time it’s a sunny day and you’re not too busy, go find one at a local lot and take it for a spin. Acura RSX type S maybe too.

    • 0 avatar

      I would agree. There are still differences though. Guess maybe it’s because I grew up with a steady diet of Italian cars and have had plenty of French ones lately, but my paradigm is different than most.

      Of course, I’ll be talking of the my viewpoint from Brazil.

      It’d seem that here most hold up the Germans as the benchmark. I don’t particularly agree because not only are they heavier, I also think they’re too short and noisy. The French and Italian are longer throws than the Germans, but that can be just as fun in my opinion. Deliberately having to move them that longer distance can result in a sensation like you’re gunning the car. Anyways, over my driving career, I have seen Fiat make great strides while VW has gotten noisier. It does seem like the latest VW has improved that somewhat.

      Ford and GM here usually are Euro ones here. Ford seems to e a good compomise between German vs. French-Italian. Throws are shorter than French-Italian, but it’s usually lighter and quirt.

      GM has always been like the Japanese. Competent, light, but neither here nor there and it seems like each model has no relation to the other. It’s funny, but almost all GMs I’ve encountered in Brazil, after 2 or 3 yrs develop a noise when depressing the clutch. Some oil makes it go away but it always comes back.

    • 0 avatar

      > I’m old enough to remember the “regional” differences between manuals.
      Japanese cars always very easy, light and smooth.
      German cars precise, yet it needed more concentration to drive them flawlessly. Sometimes the clutch pedal was a bit of an on/off switch.
      French/Italian cars often shifted more vaguely.

      Japanese cars generally have the best shifters (certainly most consistent) for everyday driving.

      Though really the differences aren’t huge with proper technique until you get into truck shifters that feel like tractors.

      The trick to matching the shift to clutch is the feel much like steering angle to throttle balance on corner exit. Putting a bit of pressure on the knob in the direction of the next gear as the clutch goes in will announce when it disengages which means time to shift while blipping (or anti-blipping/lifting going up) followed by declutch once in gear.

      The feel of the disengagement allows for safe partial-clutch shifts in most cars which is nearly seamless and about as fast as syncro-trans can go. Easiest mechanical way to feel like a pro in a car.

  • avatar
    TW5

    My mom taught me how to drive a manual transmission. Is that sad or progressive? I don’t know.

    Anyway, the decline of the manual goes back a long way. My paternal grandfather couldn’t really drive a stick because his family was somewhat affluent so automatic transmissions were seen as socio-economic necessity. Same with my paternal grandmother. My dad eventually taught himself how to drive a manual, but he’s never really had a taste for it.

    My maternal grandparents, on the other hand, came from dirt poor agrarian roots, and they never really bought into the consumptive culture during the post-war boom. My grandfather had to drive automatics because of his war wounds, but my grandmother drove manual transmission vehicles into her 70s. She taught my mother to drive manual, and my mother taught me. I’ve never driven anything but manual vehicles, and I have very little desire to ever own an automatic, but auto manufacturers have other ideas.

    The tribe of manual was thinned by the middle class consumptive culture of the 50s and 60s. Then it was thinned again by the SUV boom. The 21st century convenience culture has reduced us into a tiny cult of Luddites, and the future of hyper-efficient hybrids will probably kill us off altogether.

    Fifty years from now, one of us will appear on a random transportation blog. You know, last-man-living-to-have-driven-a-manual-transmission-car nostalgia piece. A real tear-jerker.

  • avatar
    ninjacommuter

    I hardly ever see sticks any more, and couldn’t name a single friend with one. Kinda sad.

    Even the motorcycle community has auto transmissions now on cycles bigger than scooters. I hope this is not a thing to come – there is nothing like the full-immersion experience of piloting a motorcycle through twisty-roaded hills with all four appendages playing a role. When I describe to my wife how many body parts are moving to properly operate a motorcycle she is amazed, even with her stick experience from years ago.

    Long live the manual transmission and the fuller driving experience it can offer.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      If electric bikes ever take off you can kiss manual shifting bikes bye, bye.

      I can only think of two motorcycles that have an auto (and I think they’re both dual clutches). The Honda NX 700 and VFR 1200. That’s not to say they’re aren’t more.

      • 0 avatar
        ninjacommuter

        The NX700 is the one I am most familiar with. Precise Honda engineering as expected and a nice platform, but my handful of miles on it left me with an unfulfilled experience.

        Ironically as a boy I had a Honda Trail 110 with a centrifugal clutch. Looking back that was really strange.

        Back to cars…I suspect my next car will have a CVT and almost completely remove the driving experience, and in a family hauler that’s not all bad.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Hello Thomas from a fellow Buffalonian. I’m one of those intrepid guys that taught myself…My parents had 2 cars, a Toyota Corolla with a manual and a Buick Estate Wagon, obviously with an automatic. Almost every weekend my parents would go out and they would take the Buick. Me, a 15 year old car lover who understood the theory on driving a manual would take the Corolla out for a spin. Within a few weeks I wasn’t bad…still stalled a lot when starting but never missed a shift. A few months later after I got my license I asked my Dad if I could take the Toyota to a basketball game. He responded “you don’t know how to drive a standard”. I responded that I did now how…no more questions he handed me the keys.
    I went on to teach 3 of my siblings how to drive a manual. I’m 53 years old and have owned6 VW’s, 1 Acura, 3 BMW’s and 2 Honda’s. Every one except for the Honda’s have been manuals.
    I know that the new automatics and DSG’s are quicker but I still love driving my Scirocco a Z4 sticks.

  • avatar
    7402

    4 out of the 5 cars in our family fleet have clutch pedals–we are die hard fans. We recently purchased a Subaru Forester with the 6MT, and we had to search long and hard and then wait several weeks for one with the configuration we wanted. It is logistically difficult to buy cars with manual transmissions because manufacturers make few of them and dealers don’t like to stock them.

    Sadly, I think manual transmissions will become more rare as features incompatible with them become mainstream. If you want a remote starter, you can’t get it with a manual transmission because it won’t work if the car is left in gear. If you want Subaru’s “eyesight” system, you can’t get it with a manual because the car can’t disengage the clutch in a panic stop that doesn’t depend on the driver’s involvement. I suspect adaptive cruise control also falls into this category. Today these features are not that common, but soon they will be as expected as sunroofs and airbags.

    If you go to the BMW web site and configure a brand new M5, the default configuration has an automatic transmission. If you’re so inclined you can select a manual transmission as a zero-cost option–pathetic given that it must cost the manufacturer less than that complicated transmission with shifter paddles.

    • 0 avatar
      elimgarak

      It might cost BMW less in parts, but depending on the production mix, it could end up being more expensive for them (the manual option (i.e if say manual accounts for only 10% of sales).

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      No reason adaptive cruise control needs to be automatic only, though you might get more benefit from the feature with an automatic. Either that, or an engine with enough torque to deal if speeds drop to lower than ideal for the current gear.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I disagree. There’s only so slow you can go in a given gear, so if the adaptive controls slow down the car enough, it must be able to shift. Similarly, automatic braking should require an automatic, or at least the ability to automatically engage the clutch.

  • avatar
    Ion

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news Thomas but the time where manuals are mainly only offered in niche vehicles is here. The cheapo models and the sports models, the latter of which is shrinking because of DCTs.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I taught my sister to drive stick one summer a year or two after she got her license. That ended up biting me in the butt a bit, since she started taking my car when she went out. I asked her if she was going to teach her husband after they got married. She laughed and said no.

  • avatar
    chris724

    My 25 year old sister got a 2013 Civic with a stick shift. The dealer had to special order it. I can’t have a stick shift any more, since my wife needs to be able to drive it too. I remember when I was in Jr High, my dad would drive me to school in the morning, and let me move the shifter from the passenger seat. I thought that was awesome. Modern automatics either match or beat manuals in MPG, so the only reason left, is for fun.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Modern automatics either match or beat manuals in MPG, so the only reason left, is for fun.”

      It’s always been about fun for me. I could care less about an additional 2 mpg. That being said, does anyone know how manuals are tested for the EPA? Do they go through the gears linearly or is skip shifting allowed?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        At least back in the old days (1990s) skip shifting was OK if it was part of the transmission’s programming. The Corvette and Z28 Camaro had a “lock out solenoid” that forced you to shift from 1st to 4th in any conditions where the throttle was not at least 75% depressed. This was supposed to be for the EPA test to tease out a few more MPG and avoid the gas guzzler penalty.

        Naturally kits to delete the solenoid and not freak out the computer were very popular.

        • 0 avatar
          Gone4Day

          Only from a dead stop, between 1750 and 2250 RPM, at less then half throttle. But you are correct, along with the tall 6th gear, it’s to game the EPA test cycle, and avoid the gas guzzler tax.

          Easily fixed with a 25 cent resistor, some electric tape and a cable tie.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        No skipped gears (unless you must skip a la GM).

        To quote EPA:
        For test vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, shift gears in a way that represents reasonable shift patterns for in-use operation, considering vehicle speed, engine speed, and any other relevant variables. You may recommend a shift schedule in your owners manual that differs from your shift schedule during testing as long as you include both shift schedules in your application for certification. In this case, we may use the shift schedule you describe in your owners manual.

        Also per EPA:
        Operate the vehicle smoothly, following representative shift speeds and procedures. For manual transmissions, the operator shall release the accelerator pedal during each shift and accomplish the shift with minimum time. If the vehicle cannot accelerate at the specified rate, operate it at maximum available power until the vehicle speed reaches the value prescribed for that time in the driving schedule.

        Decelerate without changing gears, using the brakes or accelerator pedal as necessary to maintain the desired speed. Keep the clutch engaged on manual transmission vehicles and do not change gears after the end of the acceleration event. Depress manual transmission clutches when the speed drops below 6.7 m/s (15 mph), when engine roughness is evident, or when engine stalling is imminent.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    One needs no mysterious macho mating with machinery to love MTs.

    They are in fact a Godsend to ninny-wimp drivers like me because becoming skillful with downshifting doubles your braking power in any emergency. Used it many, many times to compensate for the execrable brakes in old VWs. Even a 1300cc car can get into trouble on a downhill.

    Plus, for the frugal, it extends brake pad/shoe life with no, in my experience, corresponding detriment from gearbox wear.

    • 0 avatar
      ninjacommuter

      This is a key comment. On my old MT cars I hardly ever had any brake repairs, and the same is true today on my cycle. The only problem I have is that on the cycle it engine-brakes much more than any car resulting in cars behind me getting a bit close with me having no brake light on. For some reason that worries me….

      • 0 avatar

        Give the people behind you some warning and you’ll live longer. Use the brake lever to flash the brake lights while you are engine braking. You can feel the contact close under your finger before the brakes begin to bite, just flick the lever three or four times to get their attention.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        It’s sad that anyone has to even consider the possibility that a following driver won’t have the spatial awareness to see that the vehicle in front of them is slowly decelerating unless a bright red light reminds them to actually pay attention to the relative velocities of vehicles ahead.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          But that’s exactly the argument used for why red light cameras are bad–because stopping for a light makes you more likely to be rear-ended.

          If being worried about stopping for a light (while your brake lights are illuminated), it’s more than understandable to be worried about stopping without a traffic light changing and without brake lights.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you have a car that needs engine braking to get stopped, it has no business being in traffic. While it is perfectly acceptable to use a lower gear on a downhill to increase engine braking, you need a lot more than engine braking to be safe in traffic.

      Wheel brakes are for slowing the car
      Transmission is for changing the effective gear ratio between the engine and wheels
      Clutch is for disengaging the engine from the transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Here’s a fun new word for your ever expanding vocabulary:

        “Emergency”

        As in a sudden, unexpected and threatening situation that “emerges” in the midst of ordinary events.

        As in “downshifting doubles your braking power in any emergency”.

        Would it be “acceptable” to you if I used every tool at my disposal to avoid calamity? I do so hope.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I think the term “emergency” is causing confusion here. Most people associate an emergency stop with single panic stop, for example, when someone takes a left in front of you, runs out into the road, stops suddenly for unexpected debris in the road, etc.

          The way I think (hope) kenmore is using the term is overheating crappy brakes on a long downhill, eventually leading to having no brakes, and thus, an emergency. Engine braking can help control your downhill speed and help save the brakes for when you really need them.

          Otherwise I agree with FormerFF – cars that require engine braking to come to a stop in traffic on reasonably flat terrain should not be on the road.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I have been driving since 1973, and at no time have I ever operated any motor vehicle where I could not lock all four wheels with the wheel brakes, excepting those that were equipped with ABS. In every single vehicle I’ve driven, tire adhesion has been the limiting factor in braking, not the brakes themselves. In those few rare situations where I’ve needed hard braking, both on the street and on the racetrack, to avoid a potential accident, the wheel brakes were more than enough to generate the maximum amount of braking that the tires would provide. Rowing the gearbox in an effort to call up more braking force would have been nothing but a distraction, and most likely would have only gotten me wheel lockup on the driven wheels.

          I stand by my original comment: No motor vehicle that needs compression braking to make a successful emergency stop belongs in day to day traffic. If you have some old classic in original form that you want to drive (carefully) on sunny Sundays, that’s your choice, but if you’re driving such a car in day to day traffic, for both your own well being and for that of those around you, upgrade your brakes to something more current.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      I would seriously suggest getting your car checked out if engine braking doubles your retarding power.

      You should be able to lock your brakes on dry pavement with new tires using today’s braking systems. You have hundreds (and sometimes over a thousand) of horsepower worth of braking in there.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    Growing up (in NYC) all we had were manuals. Its what my dad taught me on and what I took the road test in (on the streets).

    When my parents went to pick up our 1977 Ford Club Wagon after waiting 6 weeks for the special ordered vehicle to be delivered (300 IL6 with 3 on the column and manual steering), there was no one at the dealership who could drive the vehicle and my father had to get it from the back of the lot after paying for it. When I learned to drive a year later, my father included lessons on the Ford in case the small car (Austin Marina) was not working on the day of the road test.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I took the my driving test on a 64 Chevy with a 250 Stovebolt,and three on the tree. Standard steering, standard brakes. You had to give her about 60 percent throttle, as you eased the clutch out. All the” power” was in second gear. The same car coupled with a Powerglide could give new meaning to the word gutless.

    I had a couple of 62 Pontiacs {Canadian} with the 261, and three on the tree. They were primitive no PCV valve. Just a blow by pipe. Those old Pontiacs would fly in second gear .

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    I learned to drive a stick partly on my grandfather’s 944 Porsche. The throw on that clutch was really stiff, at least if you had a skinny 12-year-old leg like me, and the let-out seemed a mile long. Not only that, the catch point seemed to occur about 4/5s of the way out. I’d be trying to hold the engine revs around 1500, letting the clutch out…out…out until it finally caught. By the end of a session, my left leg felt kind of trembly.

    The good news? You learn on a car like that, and you can drive any manual tranny.

    Now I have a Beamer 335i. I bought it used. It has absolutely everything I want, even the colors are my favorite, except for the stick. I found that the odds go down considerably of finding a car spec-ed how you like it if you insist on stick. Mind you, the 335i’s auto is excellent, and it has the paddles. Many days it’s very convenient as well.

    Still, there are days I’d give my eyeteeth to magically install a manual. I miss driving a stick.

    Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “I found that the odds go down considerably of finding a car spec-ed how you like it if you insist on stick.”

      This is threatening to put me in an automatic if I continue buying used. Finding a car you like, equipped the way you want, and in reasonable condition is exhausting if you insist on a manual.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Huh? All this commentary about manual transmissions and not a word about double-clutching? Now, that puts the “man” in manly. Syncromesh wasn’t common until the 30′s. Once a driver has developed the light touch and skillful coordination of clutch and throttle, there’ll be hardly a crunch from the gearbox.

    Imagine how delightfully light the traffic would be if vehicles came only with non-syncromesh manual transmissions.

  • avatar
    elimgarak

    I’m a decent motorcyclist (manual), however I’ve always struggled driving a manual-transmission car.

    Anyone else like this?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      My late wife was the same way. She could handle a hand operated clutch on a small motorcycle, but the concept of using her foot for the same action was totally beyond her.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      It was the other way for me – I understood in theory how to drive a manual transmission, but it never really clicked until I learned to ride a motorcycle.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Its just not that big a deal; Like learning to ride a bike. Once you learn, you learn. Since I learned when I was learning to drive I can’t say how long it took to learn. Probably on a stand-alone basis with someone who already knows how drive, maybe three hours. The only “hard” part is first gear.

    There’s a definite car to car variation, but that only takes five minutes or so to get used to. Some cars are fun to shift, many others are not. Most trucks are not. My present pickup truck doesn’t even come with a shifter as an option. Besides, I am not such an acolyte that I would gratutiously accept a manual in a pickup truck. I would want a $600 discount over the auto price, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Speaking of trucks, I learned on a ’53 GMC 3-on-the-tree. I find it mildly ironic that 1953 was also the year that GMC introduced the Truck Hydra-Matic.

      Here’s a kind of fun ad where they extoll the virtues of an automatic:

      http://www.oldcaradvertising.com/GM%20Trucks/1953/1953%20GMC%20Truck%20Ad-02.html

  • avatar
    krayzie

    The knowledge of driving manual will never be forgotten like filling a fountain pen or winding a mechanical watch, that is because there is something called Google Search.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      As someone who drives manuals, uses old fountain pens (a Parker Vacumatic, kinda sounds automotive does it not) and mechanical watches, believe me there are plenty of folk out there who do also and connect just as easily as carpeople here.

  • avatar
    rumpel

    I learned how to drive stick on a VW Golf TDI.
    It wasn’t brown and a wagon, it was a blue hatch – and it belonged to Mr. Mueller, the driving instructor.

    And it is true that if you take your driving test on an automatic in Germany you will get a restricted license. Automatic only.

    Personally I think both automatic and stick have their merits:
    - If you are taking out your ride on the weekend on the country roads nothing beats the joy of shifting, revving the engine till red line in second gear while overtaking, and so on and on
    - but if its Monday morning and you are facing half an hour stop-and-go traffic from one red traffic light to the other, it is nice to rest your left leg…

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The restricted license thing has come up a few times in this thread. How does a driver with a restricted license legally learn to drive a manual? Is there a learner’s permit they have to apply for? Does the restricted license allow them behind the wheel of an MT car provided someone with an unrestricted license is also in the car?

  • avatar

    “a manual transmission forces you to watch your gauges, to monitor the tachometer, and to actively think about the process of driving”

    Hah! That’s too easy. Lot’s of people have to learn how to drive without the benefit of a tachometer. You have to learn when to shift by ear. That is fun!

    In my case, I learned at 14 on a VW Santana. It did have a tachometer and did my next car. My third car didn’t. At first it was strange because I would on ocassion take a peek at the tachometer to help me on the other cars. It took but a short while to fine tune my ear (and butt) and listen to the car to know when to shift. Though of course not ideal, the absence of a tachometer did make me a better driver in the end. When I drive cars today with a tachometer, I use it almost as a fun, let’s-see-what’s-going-on thing, but I don’t really rely on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      I just shift when I hear the warning buzzer on my RX7. :D (only half-kidding)

    • 0 avatar

      VAZ 2101 had no tach. Instead, it featured red tick marks on speedo that provided shift points.

      • 0 avatar

        Usually the cars in Brazil that don’t provide a tachometer, don’t provide any red paint on the instruments, either!

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Not having a tach is not exclusive to low spec cars in countries with high taxes and out of control vehicle ownership costs.

          The first generation Ford Focus in the US did not have a tach. A buddy had one. It even had hand cranked windows.

          Maybe that equipment level was more common in that segment then (’99), but I thought it was spartan even for the time.

          Unrelated – I can’t believe I am talking about a ’99 model like it was the distant past. It feels like yesterday.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Are you sure about that? I had a Mk 1 Focus, a 2002, and it had a tach, as did all the ones I looked at on the dealer’s lot.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My ex had an MY00 Focus 2 door hatch/auto also with hand cranks that I do not recall having a tach, however this “zx3″ 5spd does have one.

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Focus-ZX3-Hatchback-3-Door-2000-ford-focus-zx-3-hatchback-3-door-2-0-l-/191105905953?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2c7eccb521&item=191105905953&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I am sure about this.

            Check out focusfanatics. Here is one thread I can offer as proof it existed: http:// http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=63935

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Wow, that’s surprising that Ford would bother to install two different types of instrument clusters in low spec and higher spec Focuses. I was getting the impression from the first post that burgersandbeer was thinking all first gen Focuses were tachless. I knew that lower spec Focuses had crank up windows, the one I had was called a “Power Premium” because it had power windows and mirrors.

            I worked for a Mazda store in the 80′s. We sold lots of four and five speed cars that had no tachs.

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      Agreed, once you have enough experience with a manual you don’t need any gauge or meter. Driving any modern era car with a manual is really dead simple. It’s not like learning martial arts or rocket science.

      A synchronized 5 or 6 speed, that’s all. If you open the door of a brand new diesel pick-up truck and it turns out to have a good old Fuller 13 speed, now that would be a surprise !

  • avatar

    Anyone who’s driving a manual in a car with electronic throttle is a brazen hypocrite.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Thats how they come now :(

      Edited to say, have you driven some of these modern 6 speeds? They are lugging the engine in gears they have no business being in in the name of economy. Electronic throttles DO take some measure of connectedness away from the driver, but being able to pick any gear at any time, in a familiar and mechanical way (alot of slapsticks are pretty slow and sloppy) is still something I prefer in a car.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The reason electronic throttles have proliferated it because emissions regulations are so tight that you can’t have even a momentary over-rich condition resulting from a rapidly closed throttle. I’m not sure how electronic throttles in themselves make driving a manual less difficult, unless you’re confusing them with the sort of rev-matching feature pioneered by Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Some electronic throttles seem to “hang” when you push the clutch. I know the 1.4T/6MT Dart I test drove had weird throttle reactions at times, I could only attribute it to the ECU.

        I can’t say for sure, but I have read that the Honda Fit in particular has a really bad “hang”.

        I also remember my 04 Mazda 6 V6 5MT, just had a really obnoxious delay between hitting the pedal and engine response. My Alero responds instantly to throttle, just not impressively, ha.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Well let’s hear it; please explain the hypocrisy here:

      I drive a 2004 Mazda3 with a manual and electronic throttle. When I purchased it new, it was considerably faster and more fuel efficient – as well as being $1000 cheaper – than the automatic. I also prefer the direct relationship between engine speed and drive wheel speed compared to having a torque converter, as well as the ability to control the firmness of shifts, so I can still enjoy the power and full range of the engine while shifting softly. Mechanical simplicity is another benefit for those who plan to keep their vehicles a long time.

      I’ll add that for many (most?) manual transmission vehicles, it is possible to tune them so that throttle position directly corresponds to pedal position, without noticeable delay.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Pretty much any modern car is drive-by-wire when it comes to the throttle. The computer decides how much thrust to apply due to all the nannies like traction control and the ECU making the call on the emissions side. Heck my wife’s Volvo (yes its a manual too) even has torque limiting in the first 2 gears via the computer to keep things smooth/safe. You still have to work the gas and clutch, so you are still “driving”. What’s next? Is using fuel injection cheating too, that a form of an electronic throttle.

      • 0 avatar

        > What’s next? Is using fuel injection cheating too, that a form of an electronic throttle.

        The confusion is that by “mechanical connection to the car”, what people really mean is primarily control over gear/rpm, and secondarily some kind of lament akin to “computers taking my busy-work jerb”. A DCT for example fulfills one without the other.

        Most people don’t know (sufficient proxy for they don’t care) about the actual mechanisms underneath anyway.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Initially when I learned to drive, I only had automatics to do so on. My family didn’t have anything with a manual trans, though my dad was well versed in using the 3rd pedal.

    He helped me buy my first vehicle; a ’97 Ranger XLT. For a kid just out of high school it was a nice truck; it had low miles (about 23k if memory serves) it had A/C and it was the XLT, so it wasn’t completely bare bones…. the only thing was that it had the 2.3 4 cylinder and……. a automatic with I think 2.73 gearing….

    Oh God it was slow…. don’t get me wrong, I was glad my dad helped cosign it, but the performance was abysmal. Literally a 20 second quarter mile truck…. even worse when I had the A/C on! (remember those days where A/C would kill your horsepower?) Getting on the freeway was genuinely a frightening experience as the little Ford Lima would scream it’s head off. Eventually I had more money and I wanted more truck…. and it turned out at 75k my Ranger’s A4LD derived transmission was toast (I found out post trade in) and I traded it in for a ’01 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner V6 5 speed. Over the summer at my job I learned how to drive a stick, the Frontier was a space shuttle in comparison to the Ranger. After that, I just didn’t like automatics and I was distrustful of them for quite some time. It was only until recently I got back into automatics…. San Diego traffic can do that. Even so, my latest purchase, a Jeep Wrangler; I actually was seeking a 6 speed one and would have bought a stripper one, but the one I bought came into my dealership as a trade in and the for it’s equipment level and condition, plus my employee discount, made the deal too good to ignore. It’s a automatic, but I’m happy with it, again traffic can be a bear.

    Still though, my foot will sometimes look for the clutch to this day. Thankfully my Wrangler has a small brake pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      In the middle 80′s Mazda imported a few diesel trucks. I was driving one on a parts run ahd tried to pass someone on a two lane road. As soon as I pulled out into the other lane, I realized that it would take 30 seconds to pull the pass off, and just gave up on the idea and pulled back in my lane.

      A buddy of mine had a VW Rabbit based pickup, it was even slower.

  • avatar
    the_yeti

    My 2013 Regal GS is a stick. Hell yeah.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    My first car was a stick, yes it has its merits but isn’t exactly fun around a suburb with more red lights than a Christmas Tree. I drive an automatic, and don’t miss having a stick nor downplay others for not knowing how to drive one.

    With the death of the stick, I hope to see less and less snobbish “Stickheads” acting like they’re all that because they can throw gears around on their own. Wanna brag? Learn to get into gear quicker, the easiest way for me to see a stick driver irl is how slow they are to get moving.

    May the inferior, stupid, awful, groan inducing, weak, sucky, more popular and comfortable automatics triumph.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Ryouku75! I think the affliction you describe only exists in the US. Here, more and more, it’s just becoming a matter of preference. My Dad for example. We lived many years abroad and even in Brazil he once got an auto (Maxima V6, many yrs ago). I can understand why someone would prefer an auto, but like my Dad, I just prefer an auto. I just feel more in control, specially on the road. I’ve driven my brother’s Fusion and Fiat Freemont (Dodge Journey), a friend’s Honda Civic on the road and I hated it. Could be though that I just wasn’t used to it. I’ve also driven many autos and the city and can’t really say I ever dropped out of those cars swearing that my next car would be an auto.

      The bother I mentioned is different from Dad and me. He’s had the cars I mentioned and also a Peugeot 307 SW and swears by them. I do think he’s less enthusiastic about driving the Dad and I. But that probably doesn’t say anything. My sister, as far removed from an enthusiast that you can be, bough a Chevy Zafira auto about a year ago. Recently I drove her car to the mechanic because it had become infected with cockroaches and we talked a little about the car. She said that overall she was happy with it because it was much better for her family (she has 3 daughters). Then she did say she missed some of her previous cars, specially the last one, a Chevy Corsa hatch. Why, I asked? She said because it was smaller and then she said it was better to drive. I again asked why, and she did say she missed changing the gears herself.

      It takes all kinds, I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Hey Marc!

        As far as preference goes I understand most peoples reasoning, if I had something with a little engine I could only go stick, my main preference is a modest size engine and an automatic I can easily controldownshift for winter driving.

        Your sister may’ve liked that Corsa for the fun of manual driving, but also that lighter, smaller cars are generally a bit more if a blast to drive from my experience. Maybe she should get one as a weekend car, and pass it down to her kids when the time comes.

        Be it auto or manual it all depends on the enginegear combo and the ratios.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’ve owned 3 cars/trucks with sticks. I’d much rather drive an auto and find them more fun and just as engaging as a stick. The probelm with a manual is the clutch. It’s a lot more fun to switch gears with a torque converter and your right foot! And for towing, sticks suck. Give me an auto all day long for that.

  • avatar

    As a newcomer to the world of manual shifting, which I only regularly began to do at age 54 as I often rent cars in Germany, I enjoyed this article and the comments very much. I have found a great difference in shifting from car to car, with Volkswagens and BMWs feeling very mechanical while Opels and Fords seem much softer. The quickest shifter I found was on the Toyota GT86 but I did not like the clutch action; the BMW 1-series has the best manual transmission of any of the cars I have driven. The most unusual was the 1962 Porsche 365 Super 90 Cabriolet that the owner generously let me drive last week. The pedal movements seemed pretty normal but pushing the lever into first meant I had to move my seat ahead as you have to push the lever so far forward; it feels as if it is going to go the (front) trunk! It also liked to be revved up and the neutral area seemed the size of a dinner plate. My modern rental cars immediately want me to go into 5th or 6th to save fuel. The owner takes the Porsche on historic car rallies but he only drives automatics as DDs, as do other members of his family so even in Europe the trend is clear. Incidentally, our office Passat has the Hill Hold feature–but it is an automatic!

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I really can’t justify any real good reason to own/drive a manuel[sic] anymore. I grew up on stick shift cars, then technology advanced and there’s really no MPG advantage, performance advantage (referring to non-performance vehicles that 99.9999% of us all drive), or cost advantage to a manual transmission.

    Most modern manual transmissions are travesties with noncommunicative rubbery shifters and vague clutch pedals. You don’t get the feeling that you’re “in control” of the car any more, just that you’re expending energy doing something a computer can just as well do.

    Sitting in traffic, 12 hour highway drives over foothills and mountains, business phone calls, farting around town… there just is nothing a modern manual does in everyday driving situations that makes it worth it the one time a year you find a winding road and “enjoy” driving your car.

    If car manufacturers actually bothered to produce refined manual transmissions, offered them in something besides bare bones trash models and fully optioned upper echelon models… whatever that won’t happen.

    You’re not a “man” for wanting a stick shift anymore. You’re an idiot who misguidedly buys something the manufacturer put no thought in and slapped it on some 4-cylinder model with manual window cranks so they can advertise a MSRP that doesn’t exist except in the 1000-2000 examples they built over the life of the model line.

    • 0 avatar

      > Most modern manual transmissions are travesties with noncommunicative rubbery shifters and vague clutch pedals. You don’t get the feeling that you’re “in control” of the car any more,

      It matters how the shift is done. Between a car with direct shaft right into the transmission underneath and the most isolated link of all time, one might add a more mechanically connected touch but the actual gear change speed etc can be pretty similar.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-manly-art-of-stick-handling/#comment-2988777

      As to “control”, this has two meanings here. One is the latency/hysteresis between intend and action/engagement, and the other is manual control vs auto. In throttle or brake it refers to the former, but for transmission/shifting control refers to the manual operation since once the engagement point can be felt it becomes a binary operation.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-manly-art-of-stick-handling/#comment-2988481

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      My new Audi has a 6MT and it is every bit as good, if not better than the 12 manual trans cars I’ve owned before it. I’ve been driving manuals since 1987 and I think I’ll keep driving them until I can’t drive anymore. Yup, the fun and driving satisfaction of driving stick simply cannot be matched by any other type of transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “You’re not a “man” for wanting a stick shift anymore. You’re an idiot who misguidedly buys something the manufacturer put no thought in and slapped it on some 4-cylinder model with manual window cranks so they can advertise a MSRP that doesn’t exist except in the 1000-2000 examples they built over the life of the model line.”

      I thought my friends who ordered their B8 S4s with manuals did so because they enjoyed driving manuals and weren’t interested in the unproven, expensive, mechanically complex dual-clutch units. But now I know they’re just idiots. With 4-cylinder engines. Thank you for your wisdom.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        Those are luxury items, and the amount of proper clutch operated, stick shift MT German sedans and coupes sold in the US is a drop in the bucket.

        The MT choice in Audis and BMWs speaks more of the fact that a sequential racing gearbox without a clutch pedal and operated with paddle shifters is garbage for anything but the race track, so if you’re just piddling around at the Panera parking lot you don’t want your car matching revs and hard shifting under you. Furthermore the arrogance of the engineers keeps them from putting smooth shifting traditional AT transmissions in these cars–because they’re SPORTY!!!

        Which is really irrelevant because the rest of the unwashed masses purchases MT compact cars, pickups, and Jeeps that have dreadful transmissions… which keep getting worse from year to year. Driven a Jeep or a FR-S, lately?

        Making this argument about German performance cars is like whining that the bezel of your new Rolex isn’t as big as the previous model.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          You’ve done a good job in expressing why you prefer an automatic. I agree with much of what you’ve said, especially regarding dual clutch transmissions. But I disagree that those who purchase manual transmissions generally do so because they are idiots. Maybe I’m doing nothing but outing myself and trying to defend my own idiocy, but I think there are still valid practical reasons for those who enjoy driving manual transmissions to continue to purchase them over even traditional automatics of proven reliability. For example, I’ve never driven an automatic that communicates the degree of wheel slip occurring in slippery conditions the way a manual does, and very few allow full control of gear selection to aid in determining and using the amount of traction available in such conditions. Nobody wants an automatic downshift as they’re squeezing the throttle while entering the freeway from a slippery on-ramp.

  • avatar
    Shifflett

    As much as I hate to admnit it, all I am interested in is the female art of stick handling.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I think the bottom line is this really depends on the car. For example, a Honda CR-V automatic sucks in every way possible, and there is no manual option. The automatic will hold the highest gear possible, even if you turn off the ECON nanny and put the loud pedal into the carpet. The Ford dual clutch has a mind of its own and it’s not a good mind. The Nissan CVTs, to me, are ok to the person that has ridden a twist and go scooter but, like most new automatics, is still suspect for long term reliability. Ok, so auto manufacturers will stand behind their transmissions for 120K. So after that, when the new fangled automatic box goes out, you have to shell out half the car’s $$$ worth to fix the transmission.

    Meanwhile, the manual transmission, widely available since the start of the last century, are as reliable and durable as the driver that’s operating it. I have seen clutches and syncros gone before 50K, sometimes WELL before that mark, or, with a driver like me, the car goes to the wrecking yard on a hook after 300K of driving with a solid clutch and trans.

    And that’s the real benefit of a manual for me. They simply are bulletproof and have NO additional expense beyond any recommended fluid maintenance and the odd slave cyl failure for hydraulic clutches. The same clutch and transmission that is built so robust that it gets even the worst driver through the warranty period will get me through the life of the vehicle. Show me an automatic that guarantees that sort of reliability while offering a “second nature” driving experience, picking the right gear at the right time, and I am a buyer.

    A perfect example is the 5 speed auto in our Mazda5. It has a manual gate but I rarely use it. The trans pics the right gear at the right time all the time and has shown no reliability issues to most owners. It also transfers torque efficiently. Our 2003 Honda CR-V’s 4 speed was a joke, and my parent’s 2007 CR-V and it’s 5spd auto is no better.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      The issue with automatic transmissions today is indeed their programming, which is heavily weighted towards fuel economy. I inherited an E90 328i with the General Motors six speed automatic and I hated it. Slow off the line, reluctant to downshift, up-shifted to sixth gear at 30 MPH, I was dismayed at how un-fun the car was to drive. It also started off from a standstill in second gear, so for all intents I was only allowed to use five gears.

      So one day I flipped the grear selector over to DS (Drive Sport) just to see what that was like and was stunned at the transformation. It’s like the the car woke up from a deep slumber to allow that legendary inline six engine to come alive. Standing starts were in first gear. Up-shifts didn’t happen until 5,000 RPM, and sixth gear only engaged above 70 MPH or so. Shifts happened in the blink of an eye. It really opened my eyes about what makes modern automatic transmissions so miserable. It’s not the technology, it’s the restrictive programming.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Another comment: I do agree with your point about the longevity of manuals. My 1999 CR-V with manual transmission is still going strong fifteen years and 160,000 miles later on the original clutch. Of the nine manual cars I’ve owned over the past thirty years, only one required a new clutch, and that was in a 1983 Nissan Stanza. Even the performance oriented cars in that mix such as: various GTIs, an SHO, an SVT Contour, and an Evo – all survived the abuse without any issue whatsoever.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I learned to drive stick with a beat up Ford Courier pickup. As a devout member of the Path of Least Resistance, I didn’t find the fun in it then, and I don’t see the fun in it now.
    However, I do like the art of driving.I just prefer the acceleration and sightseeing aspects of it more. I’d rather humiliate someone at a stoplight than a track, all the while being isolated in a quiet cabin.
    Different strokes for different folks.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Clutch and shifter feel is an interesting discussion. I was in the Marine Corps Reserves throughout college. Most of my term served at a Motor Transport Unit in Orlando, FL. I was licensed to drive everything they had. One of those vehicles was the M813, 6×6, 2&1/2 ton cargo truck.

    One thing you quickly learned is that Uncle Sam didn’t really care about the comfort of the operator. Trucks had no A/C, adequate heat but the cabins we’re pretty leaky. The clutch had a very, very, very long travel and you didn’t press it to the floor, you stomped on it. Shifter travel was long and notchy and required a firm hand (arm and shoulder too). I later learned that we should’ve been dual clutching these beasts but I don’t remember that in any of the instruction.

    I remember returning from a two week summer training, getting into the pussy mobile (V.W. Fox) and almost putting my foot through the floor board when pressing the clutch.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    I agree that automatic is better when you´re eating or use the phone, but maybe you shouldn´t do that when you´re driving???????

    I will buy an automatic when i get a leg or arm amputation.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I drive a modern manual Audi A4 and have no real interest in automatics. In future I will have no choice as no manuals will offered by Audi in the USA. The new A3, no manual. A6, no.

    While driving in traffic I find myself reflecting on how if you go back far enough, spark advance was controlled manually by lever on steering column. And luxury cars had levers to pull which pushed grease out into a tubing system terminating in all the chassis rotating or swiveling parts. Cheap cars required greasing one by one from under the car. Starting was done from outside the car.

    Still, I think shifting manually if fine, if the car is pleasant and the setup is nice. It connects you with the motor and the car and is more engaging, all provided you actually like cars and driving.

  • avatar
    izzy

    Manual for me. If for no other reason than, so I would instinctively step on the clutch when the throttle is stuck open.
    Soon after the runaway Lexus incident, I had to remind myself how to shift into neutral in my automatic cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I would be more prone to switching the key off to the first click to where the steering wouldn’t lock. If you press the clutch pedal, your engine is going to go to full revs, and if it’s not equipped with a rev limiter, may very well fail in some spectacular fashion.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My first standard transmission-equipped vehicle was a ’94 Jetta. GL… cheap model. Roll down windows, with the weirdest power door locks to date I believe I’ve came across.

    It’s also the same one by which turning the key in the driver’s door all the way to the left, the power sunroof would close if left open. For a 1994 model with roll down windows, I thought that was pretty sweet.

    I paid the princely sum of $850 for the car, and (bonus!) it still had decent silver paint on it.

    I had no idea how to drive a stick at the time. I bought it after one white-knuckled test drive where I just took the keys from the driver and figured out how to get the bastard moving.

    The Bosnian fellow figured I could drive a stick when I took the keys from him. I told him sure, sure. I could not. Lol

    Once I hit the top of his street and after killing it a couple of times (during “test” drive), I figured out how to get it in first and pop the clutch, resulting in quite the FWD burn out. Two seconds later, my cell phone rang. It was a concerned phone call from him. I didn’t answer.

    When by the grace of God I made it back to his house, I began to attempt to parallel park the car. He saw that I was a newbie with a manual transmission, so he parked it for me.

    I handed him the cash, he handed me the title, and I had a new to me ’94 VW Jetta 5-speed with the 2.0L. The drive home, learning to drive the stick shift, was interesting, to say the least. But that car was more fun driving around than any cars I’ve ever had.

    My wife hated that car. She said it was “go cart like” in every way. For me, it was a blast to drive.

    I had that car for two years. Despite a slight hesitation on occasion (vacuum leak?), and the fact that the early 90′s German instrument cluster was completely useless (which I had to utilize my connections with repair shops to give the car a pass for legalization/registration purposes), the bastard ran great.

    Through daily usage, I learned that although the engine in the V-Dub was certainly underpowered, the engine in mine was still a strong runner, and the second gear synchro had definitely seen better days. If you didn’t shimmy that shifter into second just so, you’d arrive in scratch city.

    The undercarriage proved to be fairly rusty, and the only reason I ever get rid of it was because the rusty fuel tank really got to the point where it was leaking just a few drops to rather large puddles. Couple the leaky fuel tank with a very leaky exhaust system, and the car was a ticking time bomb.

    You always remember your first manual car. That was mine.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    For the past two years or so, I have found myself for the first time in a very long time without a manual transmission car. Not exactly by choice, more accident and I live and drive daily in Los Angeles.

    Yes, I miss it. Even though you can operate a stick without much thought after years of daily use, you are still much, much more engaged than with an automatic. I now have a hand-me-down, very nice Miata with auto/manumatic and I do use the gear access options to take advantage of engine breaking down our many hills. I never use the paddles which to me are a toy at best and an insulting, patronizing joke at worst. It’s pointless without a clutch pedal. My last car was a 1995 manual Miata that I had from new for seventeen years.

    There is a sterility to the automatic, especially in this sort of car. Still, the automatic is like baking a cake or cookies from a mix; it’s OK, but it’s not the real gutsy, visceral scratch-made version of anything.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    I learned to drive at age 14 out with friends in a 10-year-old fat-back Volvo with three on the tree. Two years later when my Dad decided to teach me how to drive in his automatic Galaxie, he became quite angry at how I arrived at my “expertise”. I have driven manuals almost exclusively all my life.

    When my daughter became of age (sadly, 17 in NJ) in 2006, I had a specific vehicle in mind for her – an older Miata. I found a 10-year-old garage queen (32K documented miles). The reasons for a Miata are threefold:
    1) Manual transmission – one must pay attention to actually “driving’
    2) Only two seats – no back seat distractions
    3) 4-cylinder engine – hard to ‘speed’ on local roads

    She was the only Senior in her (admittedly small) high school who could drive a stick. Off to college and she attracted much attention in the dorm parking lot, not only for the ‘cool’ car, but because she could drive, gasp, a stick. Also because she regularly checked the oil & TP.

    To most young people today a car is just another appliance. Just turn a key, put the thing in “D”, and get from A to B – preferably with GPS directions (don’t get me started on map reading skills), an internet connection (YouTube & Facebook while they ‘drive’ – yikes), and of course access to what is currently called music.

    BTW, daughter still drives & maintains “Mimi” and intends to keep it forever.

  • avatar
    CanuckinPA

    I drove a manual Fiat Panda when I was in Italy in December and realized that I’d forgotten how much fun shifting could be while I was thrashing through the switchbacks above Trento.

    Now I want to trade in my geartronic V70R for a six=speed manual!

  • avatar
    jmo

    Manly?

    I remember being 12 and my grandmother came up from Florida and need to run to the store. So, I went with her in my Mom’s manual transmission SAAB 900. I was surprised that a women of that age could drive a manual. She said about my surprise, “Hah! When I leaned to drive, manuals were all there was.”

  • avatar
    April

    Not sure why there is the need for sexual innuendos. Not clever nor cute.

    “You keep both hands on the wheel, Frankie. I’ll handle the stick”

    P.S. It’s not just manly men who can handle driving a manual transmission. I can operate one. If I want to.

    • 0 avatar

      > I can operate one. If I want to.

      That’s what she said.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        Yes.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          > I can operate one. If I want to.

          Out of curiosity, when was the last time?

          Also any chick stirring a Mustang GT just went up 2.5 hotness points.

          Then if she powershifts….

          youtube.com/watch?v=STyKLlkAiLQ

          youtube.com/watch?v=5RXfygkH8ZY

          • 0 avatar
            April

            Up until about three years ago I was driving a 1995 Ford F-150 with the 4.9 inline six/5-speed power combo. Before that I owned various manual-equipped automobiles.

            1976 Subaru GF hardtop
            1977 Datsun 280Z (only car I drove over 100 mph)
            1978 Subaru Coupe
            1980 Volkswagen Beetle (Mexican grey market)
            1981 Toyota Starlet
            1990 Toyota Celica GT coupe
            1991 Toyota Tercel coupe
            1993 Subaru Loyale (loved the hill-holder feature)

            P.S. Since most of these were low power economy cars doing the power shifting thing seemed rather pointless but my Dad did teach me how to shift gears in the Volkswagen without using the clutch.

            vroom click vroom click vroom click vroom :)

  • avatar
    Mervich

    Learned to drive on a Mississippi dirt road in a 1961 Olds F-85 with 3 on the tree. Since then, I have owned many cars and trucks with manual tranny, with a smattering of automatics here and there. The absolute worst stick to drive for me was a 1989 Honda Accord…had a miserable cable release clutch that was unpredictable to say the least. The most comfortable manual was a 1994 Explorer Sport that was my “fishin” vehicle. Rarely used the clutch except to stop and get going again. Was so entirely familiar with it that I could slip from gear to gear with no clutch. Yeah, I know, not good for it…but I finally sold it (with never a failure, except the A/C compressor locked-up) with 180K on the odometer. Anymore though, I have been relegated to automatics due to a crappy left knee. Punching the paddle just isn’t the same. Getting old sucks the fun out of everything!

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I will share with the group.
    Learned the theory on dirt bikes as a kid.
    Had some fun before at 15 driving a friends VW and the way we drove is not taught in school – the driver steers, the middle seat handles the pedals and the passenger shifts. Kids!
    I have had my share of MT over the years and now thinking about getting one of the last Challengers with the Hemi and Tremec 6 speed.

  • avatar
    islander800

    I learned to drive as 10-year-old in 1960, in my father’s 1956 Chev 6 cylinder 3-on-the-tree, on an abandoned road outside of town.

    I’m thankful he taught me how to drive stick, because my first car, in ’71, was a ’65 Corvair 140 4-speed. My most fondly remembered car for sure!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Old school Hollywood baseball, me and Frankie Avalooooooooonnnnnnn . . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2sFdkGCjhE

  • avatar
    Dave W

    I learned to drive in 4 speed column shift SAABs and Citroens. Then one day at work a delivery needed to made. As I was the only one available who could drive a stick I was elected. Only one problem.The Econoline van, beaten to near death but refusing to die, had long since lost the plate showing the shift pattern. As a “3 on the tree” reverse was where I had learned first was supposed to be. Fortunately I only put it into reverse in traffic one time.

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    Five cars at the house ready to drive. One has an automatic. Now that I’m in my mid-50s, I’m likely to buy automatic next time. Especially, since I got caught sitting on a long upgrade today in my SRT8 after some numb nuts rear ended a semi and succeeded in closing down eastbound I-70. I eventually shut off the car and set the emergency brake to wait it out. I did get out of the car and explain to the idiot behind me who had poked the nose of his Ford right under my rear bumper that I was driving a clutch on a steep hill and he chose to pull up so close and suggested he exercise better judgement in the future. It was fun seeing his worried look when the road reopened and it was time to get going again. I did not tell him the Challenger has anti-rollback or hill holder or whatever it’s called. I just wanted him to have to worry about the nose of his car.

  • avatar
    April

    Up until about three years ago I was driving a 1995 Ford F-150 with a straight six/5-speed power combo. Before that I owned various manual-equipped automobiles.

    1976 Subaru GF coupe
    1977 Datsun 280Z (only car I drove over 100 mph)
    1978 Subaru Coupe
    1980 Volkswagen Beetle (Mexican grey market)
    1981 Toyota Starlet
    1990 Toyota Celica GT coupe
    1991 Toyota Tercel coupe
    1993 Subaru Loyale (loved the hill-holder feature)

    Not much into power shifting but my Dad did teach me how to shift gears in the Volkswagen without using the clutch. :)

  • avatar
    Blimey

    Nearly 200 comments about a stick shift. Must be a Yank thing.

  • avatar
    justanotherdriver

    It is not an art form (unless you are some sort of left foot braking rally driver), is just second nature. Over here in Europe with the exception of the big luxury cars (A8,BMW 7-6-5 etc) and US made SUVs (X5, ML etc) almost every other vehicle is manual.

    What nobody say that not all manuals are great- some of them are imprecise and catchy and impossible to shift fast and clean.

    For the enthusiast the manual transmission is about involvement but for the wast majority of people in the real world is just about efficiency and taxation.

    Since in most European country the ownership tax is calculated from a combination of displacement and emissions for example for an Infiniti G37 yearly cost of ownership in taxing is in the excess of 5.000,00 Euro – in contrast for the 1.l Ecotec Ford Focus is NONE! or close to that – SO THERE YOU HAVE IT! The manual transmissions is here to stay in the economy and mainstream segments – since they are better suited to small displacement under powered machines.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    Here’s a stick for you to hold on to: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3027804/this-has-got-to-be-the-weirdest-bike-on-kickstarter/#2

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    Now that Subaru has decided to kill manuals in their Legacy/Outback line I am eyeing a 2014 purchase this year. Just waiting for the 2015′s to hit the lot and I’ll negotiate for one of the MT’s nobody wants!

  • avatar
    Timothy

    First time I drove a stick I was 14. Dad sitting next to me in the 92 Toyota Truck which was in 4 wheel low. Great way to learn the friction point of the clutch without having to worry about the gas. (I swear that thing would climb a wall in low range) Once I had mastered that it was into 2 wheel drive and after a few stalls I had it.

    92 Dodge Dakota (with the most ridiculously high clutch release in the known universe, also the shittiest little 4 banger money could by)

    98 Jeep Cherokee Sport (6 cly 5MT)

    2002 Jetta (4cly 5MT)

    2006 Mazda 3 (4cly 5MT)

    2004 VW Passat (Automatic sadly)

    2013 Focus ST

    Long Live The Manual

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Manual transmission? Heck, what % of people with Autos think to put them in lower gears in the snow?

    My daily drivers have been MTs exclusively for 35 years. One of life’s pleasures. I even like it in a traffic jam. Not manly, just fun.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    My mother can drive a stick. Real manly. So how many of you manly men can drive a non synchronized manual?

    • 0 avatar

      > My mother can drive a stick. Real manly. So how many of you manly men can drive a non synchronized manual?

      Vin Diesel begs to differ.

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently this site filters out youtube on submission.

      http://goo.gl/v7Iv8n

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Compact cars with manual transmissions were so common in Canada when I grew up that I would guess that most Canadian-born women older than 25 can drive a manual transmission. So many of the hottest girls drove beater manual-transmission compacts in high school. My mother, sister, and most of my ex-girlfriends have owned manual transmission vehicles. Even looking back at all the girlfriends that my buddies have had, I can think of only a couple that have never owned a manual. Most even owned manuals when I met them. But we’re engineers, so maybe we attract an unusual subset of the female population.

  • avatar
    ReallyRandy

    I am one of the self taught ones. An ’81 vw rabbit diesel, in ’95. I rarely ever drive a manual anymore, but just today I had to get into the mother in law’s ’86 nova (corolla) that she refuses to part with, and drive it across town. You never forget, and you never lose the love for driving a manual.


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