By on April 7, 2014


In a bid to boost sales of the Fiat 500 Turbo and Abarth, the two boosted versions of Fiat’s city car will get an optional automatic transmission.

(Read More…)

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.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2013

TTAC commentator Ian Anderson writes:

Hi Sajeev, I have something here for you and my fellow B&B to ponder over,

Back in May I bought a rust-free 1999 Dodge Dakota Sport (Extended cab, 3.9L Magnum V6, 5speed AX-15 manual, 2WD, 3.21 8.25″ open axle) for $2000 from a guy in South Philly. I bought it so I could take my rusty 1992 Dakota off of the road so my dad and I could fix all of the rust on it. Well now the ’92 is on the road (and growing more rust) and the ’99 is sitting on the street with a supposed ticking time bomb in the trans tunnel. When I bought the truck I was told by the previous owner’s mechanic that the throwout bearing was going out and would need replaced soon. Lo and behold, the next day while beating around in it I had to call AAA when I could no longer shift it (and when the clutch suddenly didn’t do anything, made stopping interesting). $600 later I had a whole new clutch kit and was on my way. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2013

Manual - Picture  courtesy iwillraceu.wordpress.com

In the United States, most vehicles leaving the showroom today come with some form of shifting that involves very little, if any, input from the driver, from the dual-clutch driven Porsche 918 Spyder, to the CVT-powered Nissan Versa Sedan.

In the United Kingdom, however, the manual is still king.

(Read More…)

By on July 1, 2013

Justin writes:

Sajeev,

Last October I was able to purchase a car I had been swooning over for about 15 years: A ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. It has about 108000 miles and is my daily driver. During the summer months I generally prefer to ride a motorcycle, so I need to do something with this car. Selling it is out of the question, as it only has a few cosmetic blemishes (that will soon be tended to), so it will require some…more.

My question is, what do I go with first; Supercharger or 5-6 speed? (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2013

sentras

Most estimates put the market share of manual transmission cars in the United States at less than 10 percent. Whether it’s a lowly Nissan Sentra or the mighty Porsche 911 GT3, it seems that Americans just do not want to drive a three pedal transmission. The die hard manual crowd, as vocal as they may be, can’t seem to get anyone to listen to them, for love or money. If only they knew that just a few hours north of Boston, there existed a land where automotive purity was considered as the full contact lap dance.

(Read More…)

By on April 18, 2013

With 2013 heralding the final year for the Lamborghini Gallardo, the supercar firm is also gearing up to produce its last manual transmission car ever.

Road & Track talked to Lamborgihni North America COO Michael Lock who said that paddle shift Gallardos outsell stick shifts by a 9:1 ratio. According to Lock

“We are in an era when customers demand technology and products that adapt to them,”

Translated from marketing gobbldeygook, that means that Gallardo owners are unable to steer with one hand and simultaneously change gears while digitally stimulating their catamite in the passenger seat, so the automated gearbox is here to stay. As part of the three-pedal’s funeral, Lamborghni will offer a stripped-down, rear-drive Gallardo without “frills”. This would be exciting news had Lamborghini not done this before.

But repeat movies are understandable. There are only some many minor variations that can be sold as special editions. At this point, the Gallardo has been on the market for 9 years, a geological age in the context of the supercar market.  Lock is seemingly proud of this fact, telling R&T

“It is the oldest supercar still standing, like a boxing champion,” crowed Lock. “It is defying the normal supercar product cycle. Can you imagine if Ferrari were still trying to sell the 360 Modena,”

Somewhere in the darkest recesses of my mind, I can. And I wish they still did. Particularly the 360 Challenge Stradale with its Lexan windows and obnoxiously loud V8 that still sounds like a proper Ferrari. Oh hell, bring back the 355 as well. They are so much nicer than the technically superior but aesthetically overwrought 458 as well as the F430, which will one day be considered a symbol of the excess and vulgarity of the pre-GFC era.

By on February 19, 2013

The popular wisdom among folks in the auto-biz of my generation (1970s) is that Buick only exists because of China. Why didn’t GM kill Buick in America and keep it in China? The answer is obvious: you can’t sell your brand on its “Americanness” if it isn’t also sold in America to Americans. Buick then is a brand hunting for a mission. It’s also a brand hunting for fresh customers that don’t remember the Century and Skylark, two abominations firmly burnt into my mind. In attempt to solve these problems Buick has ditched their badge-engineering mantra and is rolling out new products targeted at folks from the 80s and 90s. Forced induction and a manual transmission aren’t new to Buick, but the possibility of a desirable small sedan from the triple-shield is earth shattering. Have they managed it? GM tossed us a set of keys to find out.

(Read More…)

By on December 17, 2012

Chris writes:

Sajeev,

In a couple recent Piston Slap articles you’ve mentioned that when driving car with a manual transmission its most efficient to accelerate with the engine near its torque peak, then cruise in the highest gear possible. This raised two questions in my mind: (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2012

Not too long ago (but in a galaxy far, far away) I wrote about the deals you can get on unpopular new cars that have brand new replacements waiting in the wings.

Today we’ll examine what happens when those vehicles fall off the depreciation cliff. Again.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2012

The folks over at Allpar are concerned about Dart sales. The initial batch of Darts were released as “Rally” models with manual transmissions for about $23,000 — and apparently, one of the Allpar reader’s dealers has an ADP sticker on top of that! The Darts don’t seem to be selling. Not for $23,000, and not with a manual transmission.

Now the Wall Street Journal is chiming in.

(Read More…)

By on May 22, 2012

 

Mark writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

Sajeev tried to save me once before but I didn’t listen. Maybe this time I will. Last year, I bought a bomb of a project and he did his best to scare me away. He saw the monstrosity in person. That monster being the 1995 Ford Bronco I bought on a whim. We talked on the phone before I purchased the OJ Bronco. Sajeev told me to avoid it like the plague. Yet, I didn’t listen. I got burned. I owned it for less than 6 months (3 of those months being spent in my garage) before selling it to an offroader in Ohio.

But, now I am in a different situation…

I am back in Canada where gas is significantly more expensive (very unlike cheap Houston Texas gas). My girlfriend and I will be in the market soon for a vehicle and we have the following criteria:

1) Fun to drive: must be a manual, preferably RWD or AWD, and a bit chuckable (not in the “chuck it in the garbage” sense of the Bronco).
2) Practicality: I don’t need a gas guzzler. Something efficient. Two doors are doable. Four doors are better. Wagon or hatch is best. However, it must have enough room for my girlfriend and I, plus two black Labrador mixes (see cute doggy brothers picture).
3) Utility: It needs to be able to tow two motorcycles (~400lbs each) and trailer. Also, we need another room for camping gear, even when the dogs are with us.
4) Realistic: We have finite funds (like most people) so we would definitely be going for something used, under $8000. I couldn’t care less what badge is on the front.

Thanks,
Mark (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2012

According to Edmunds, 6.5 percent of new vehicles sold had a manual transmission, more than double that of 5 years ago. What’s next? The return of diesels? Wagons?

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2012

A scheduling conflict led me to be booked into a 2013 Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV. With Jack and Brendan having already driven the car, I’ll spare you all yet another review discussing Mazda’s latest crossover. But a week in the CX-5 raised an interesting question; when are automatics better than a stick shift, even if it’s a vehicle that (arguably) has some appeal as a driver’s car?

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2011

 

T.J. writes:

Hey guys,

The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here.  I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low.  actual miles is probably around 250-260k).  The issue is an oil leak.

It’s now leaking at the rate of about 5 quarts every 3000 miles.  I’ve been content to keep topping off the oil, but now the leak is causing other problems; specfically, the a/c and alternator belt will not stay on because the pulley is soaked in oil.  Fixing the leak would be over $1000, and this would the third or so leak that we’ve plugged, only to have another pop up, so I’m convinced that if I was to fix it, a new engine is the way to go.  I have an estimate from my mechanic (a very reasonable, trustworthy independent shop) for $2200 or so ($850 for a used local engine with 90k miles, $200 in other parts, and 13 hours labor).

(Read More…)

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