By on July 21, 2010

Car & Driver’s endearingly awkward Editor-in-Chief Eddie Alterman took to the interwebs today, with a “viral-style” video imploring enthusiasts to “save the manuals.” And though Alterman can’t help but sell the faux-sincerity, the message is brain-hurtingly mangled by his attempt to be the Old Spice Guy of the car world.

Yes, manual transmissions are a dying breed, and yes, they’re fun and prevent distracted driving, but how in the bang box is buying an old BMW the solution? Wouldn’t buying a brand-new car with a manual transmission be the best way to voice your opinion to the product planners? The problem is that Alterman isn’t as interested in saving the manual as he is in saving his magazine… and it should come as no surprise to find out that three tools of Alterman’s Manual Front include commenting at C&D, emailing C&D, and “liking” C&D’s Save The Manuals Facebook page. Oh yeah, and writing your congressional representative (“Will it make a difference? Uh, maybe?”).

Last but (hopefully) not least, Alterman suggests teaching someone to drive a manual transmission. One might have hoped that this, and not funneling traffic to the C&D website, would have been the focus of Alterman’s mock-crusade. Instead, the slow-motion tragedy of manual transmission disappearance is being quasi-ironically exploited to boost readership at a flagging buff book, further marginalizing the manual into its enthusiast ghetto.

Meanwhile, there’s an another, equally tongue-in-cheek way to do this: seriously proposing legislation that makes manual transmissions mandatory for all new cars sold in the United States… under the rubric of safety, of course. After all, politics isn’t about asking people nicely to save junkyard clunkers and “like” you on Facebook, it’s about forcing the other guy to argue against something undeniably good… like safety. Do you like what distracted driving does, Senator? Are you in favor of unintended acceleration? Do you now, or have you ever owned an automatic transmission-equipped vehicle?

The problem is that, like most MT enthusiasts, our motivation to save the manuals is ultimately about fun. Unfortunately, times have changed, and far more people now seem to associate cars with commuter tedium than fun. Meanwhile, transmission and drivetrain technology are making manuals less and less necessary (witness the fact that most automatics get better mileage and/or acceleration than their manual counterparts). You think Ferrari is about to break down and re-embrace the manny-tranny just because Alterman makes puppy dog eyes in the direction of Maranello?

It’s a sad truth that people who drive for fun, buff books like C&D, and manual transmissions are all becoming increasingly marginal phenomena in the iPhone era. Of the three, I’ll miss stick shifts the most.

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61 Comments on “Save The Manuals… And A Struggling Buff Book...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    I think drivers ought to be required to learn to drive stick, but I don’t think having one should be a requirement in a vehicle. Perhaps knowing how to drive one should be a requirement of receiving a licence, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.

    BTW the only way this video could be more silly is if he was standing infront of a car from a dead brand. How bout a manual trans Plymouth Neon? Or a stick equiped Mercury Lynx? Pontiac Fiero?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Car & Driver’s endearingly awkward Editor-in-Chief Eddie Alterman took to the interwebs today, with a “viral-style” video imploring enthusiasts to “save the manuals.”… but how in the bang box is buying an old BMW the solution?

    That might be why…

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    When I first saw “Saving the Manuals” I thought it was about saving those little books that used to be found in the glove box.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    What planet is he from, if he can keep a BMW running for coffee money? A friend of mine owned exactly same E34 5-Series. That car requires a ton of cash to keep it running. Finally, he got sick of fixinig it and replaced it with a Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      As an owner of an E46 330i, the answer is this.

      Buy one with a good service history, do preventative maintenance, learn to DIY and avoid the dealer, and a used BMW is easy to live with.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Bimmer,

      I owned that car as well, and I had the same experience. I loved the sound of the small V8, but in addition to the repair costs, I was afraid I was sitting on a ticking time bomb with the Nikasil engine. It was a special car, though, warts and all.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Well, let’s be masochistic with the stick shift.

    One firm I worked for had a large dump truck used for hauling gravel, asphalt etc.

    Going by memory here.

    Two-speed rear end, high and low.

    A “main” transmission with ten forwards speeds.

    A secondary transmission with four speeds located behind the main tranny.

    Then there was some sort of splitter that was activated by a handle on the 4-speed tranny that made the 4 forward speeds into 8 speeds.

    Argghhhhhhhh.

    So many choices and, generally, I just used the ten-speed and the 2-speed rear end BUT, there were a few rather steep local hills that required going real low so the damnable GAS engine industrial-style V* engine could c r a w l s l o w l y up the hill.

    I was the slowest thing on the road.

    Especially tooth-gnashing was having a full load of rocks AND a trailer with the back hoe/skip-loader atop.

    I felt akin the the Beverley Hillbillies driving down Rodeo Drive.

    If only I had Granny in her rocking chair to accompany me.

    I never could quite figure out the optimal mix and match of the multitude of gear combinations available.

    Departing the firm and jumping into a container-hauling semi running out of the Port of Oakland was a relief!!!!!

    Into a Detroit-Diesel “OO-92” pumped up by the owner to 450 horseys with a 13-speed!!! WHeeeee. Enough power to move the Hoover Dam off its foundation, I bet.

    That was an awesome machine that could make the Earth tremble with the torque it could convey to whatever tectonic plate was being pushed against.

    I still can not truly deny perhaps being solely responsible for the Loma Prieta earthquake.

    But, gimme’ an auto tranny. The improvements have been great and for those who care about safe driving, with the good care-about-others attitude I believe an auto tranny is safest for most herd members thought with snow and ice a manual tranny can offer a few decided advantages for those experienced with a manual tranny on slippery surfaces.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m with obop. I learned to drive on a my moms 64 chevy with a stove bolt six and three on tree. I’ll bet I stalled it 15 times on my first try.

    To this day I can still hear my dad “EEEASS! the clutch out Michael” I drove standards for years. I’m too old and lazy now,gimmie an automatic.

  • avatar

    Oh no, not more of this!
    Get rid of manual transmissions – their time has come and gone.

    Try to find a farm tractor (not some wimpy garden tractor that won’t pull in the harvest) with a manual transmission. That’s right EVEN BIG FARM TRACTORS HAVE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS NOW, so why would anyone want to pretend a modern automobile should be a 1940 John Deere?

    Why should automakers continue to cater to masochists who think the stone age is a good thing? Why would people buy a car just to replace clutches and shift linkages all the time? Idiocy like this keeps technology from advancing (think resource allocation of automakers) and I am proud to stand against manual transmissions and cheer-lead their demise, wholeheartedly.

    Manual transmissions have no benefits over a *real transmission* in the modern world, and I refuse to be backwards – no matter how interested I might be in cars.

    Yet people continue to beat this tired old drum. Ugh.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    LOU: Sorry, Mary, I can’t let you drive the mobile unit.
    MARY: I can learn!
    LOU: Mary, I hate to tell you this, but the mobile unit is a truck. A big one!
    MARY: I can still learn. It’s like an H, right?
    LOU: It’s more like an H with a W in the middle of it with a T on the side. Sorry, Mary, you’re still in charge. And will you stopping looking like that?
    MARY: Like what?
    LOU: Like you’re posing for Radio Free Europe.

    (The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Episode 1.8 “The Snow Must Go On”
    originally broadcast November 7, 1970)

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    I prefer manuals to automatics when I have a choice. It’s more fun to drive with a stick, and using the engine compression or downshifting to slow down gradually saves a lot of wear on brake pads. I can cost down hills with the car in Neutral and save gas there, too. The few times I’ve driven a recently made car (post 2000 or so) with an automatic I was always on the brakes. I would take my foot off the throttle to reduce speed a little bit and the car would just freewheel and not appreciably slow down. I’d have to use the brake pedal to get down to the speed I wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      Yeah, if you’re really into saving fuel, there are a lot more techniques available with a manual. And you’re right; I save a ton of wear on my brakes in my quest for efficiency. Coast it, baby. The country road that goes by my house is desolate enough where I’ll even get it up to about 58 and then shut the engine off and coast into my driveway. The best part about the stick is that you can drive it quickly while still getting max efficiency. Full throttle until you can shift into the next gear, or until you’re at your desired speed.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Agree on the saving brakes. My 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 has the 5spd manual behind the 4.7L V8, and it’s a first-year of that design truck. After I bought the truck the forums were all lit up with people complaining their rotors were warped and pads were wearing out with 10/15k miles and needed multiple brake jobs within the warranty period.

      I have over 136k miles on the original pads and rotors. I replaced lower ball joints and outer tie rod ends a few months ago prior to state inspection and the pads were still more than 6mm thick and the rotors looked good, although they had a good enough ridge around the OD to make caliper removal a little trickier.

      I originally bought the manual with a distrust for the durability of the then-new M-B 5-spd automatics but the transmission still had to be replaced during warranty due to a seal failure causing sufficient lubricant loss to wipe a few bearing races. That replacement was around 16k IIRC, and 120k later it needs done again as the input shaft bearing is noisy. I chalk it up to the specific model of transmission in my truck (NV3500) being only marginally capable of handling the engine’s torque, with aluminum case distortion preventing long-term seal durability and even though I’ve kept after the trans oil level with Synchromax every oil change it still caught up.

  • avatar
    B-Rad

    I’m 100% OK with Car and Driver doing this to drive people to their site. They are running a business and this is a way to market it. I think the video got the point across while including some typical C&D humor (I think the thing about purchasing a used BMW was clearly a joke). I enjoyed it. And while they did hawk their site and facebook page plenty, they did present some legitimate solutions for an issue to which most of their audience relates.

    Overall, I think you’ve been a little too hard on them. But thank you for sharing this perspective. Having a look from this side is valuable to drawing conclusions about the “campaign”.

    Also, I would like to disclose that I was one of the first 500 to email them, so I have a button and sticker headed my way (in 6 to 8 weeks)!

  • avatar
    Demetri

    “(witness the fact that most automatics get better mileage and/or acceleration than their manual counterparts)”

    That may be the case with a DSG style transmission, but not with torque converter automatics. The better EPA numbers for the auto on some models is simply a function of gearing and being able to game the EPA cycle. The manual models are being geared more for performance on recent models. And I don’t recall seeing many situations where the auto out accelerated the manual. The few that I remember were a function of the automatic having a longer 1st gear which made it easier to launch. Take any econobox and compare the manual to the auto and you’ll get a LOT more acceleration from the manual.

    If anything kills the manual transmission I think it will be the electric car. No need for multiple gear ratios there, and I’m ok with that. As long as I drive an ICE though, I’ll be rowing my own.

    Hey Ed, it would be pretty cool if you could pull some data for “percentage of models sold with manual transmission” for a variety of different models. I’ll bet there are several manufacturers who make a significant amount of sales off of manual equipped models. I see a lot of Mazda 3s equipped with manual trannys out in the wild. I’d expect Mazda, Honda, and BMW to all have a high percentage. Volkswagen is probably up there as well.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      During a recent car shopping expedition at VW, the folks at the dealership shared with me that 1/2 of GTI sales are manual transmission cars, although finding a manual in the 4 door version is a bit tougher.

      Wound up getting a 3 series wagon… with a manual.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Eddie’s losing weight! Props to him. He’s a long way from being Steve McQueen, but to fair, C/D hasn’t had a blood-and-thunder guy since David E.

    • 0 avatar

      I expect more from you, Jack. You are the only true racer on staff, the rest are “enthusiasts”. Tell us if manual is any good anymore in the age of sequentials. Edward wants to make this about trampling poor bones of C&D, I want this about the merits of a manual (or lack of such).

  • avatar
    Superboy

    Thrilled to see that there are still a few manny fans! I’m 36, and I’ve only had manuals post my hand me down 88 Celebrity. Currently have an 08 Lexus IS…allegedly the only manual that they’ve sold at Lexus of Manhattan. I absolutely love how shocked people are when they see it.

    Not looking forward to the inevitable day that I’m forced into a slushbox.

    • 0 avatar
      Deorew

      Yes, same here. Most people are surprised by my cars.
      Not just the fact that they are manuals, but the brands….
      I live in New York City area, and my last 3 cars were:
      Chrysler LeBaron GTS 5-door hatch with manual
      Mercury Mystique with manual
      Cadillac CTS (not V-series) with manual
      Next car may just be new Buick Regal with manual.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    “(witness the fact that most automatics get better mileage and/or acceleration than their manual counterparts).”

    I would seriously doubt that this is true for torque-converter based automatics. Indeed, EPA fuel ratings show this to be not entirely correct.

    Based on 2010 fuel economy (Fueleconomy.gov)
    Toyota Camry 4 cyl = better mileage on highway with manual
    Honda Civic = better mileage in city w/ manual
    BMW 328i = better mileage on highway w/ manual
    335i = same mileage with either trans
    Cadillac CTS-V = 1-2 mpg better than automatic for city and highway
    Nissan Sentra = better mileage with manual on highway
    Nissan Versa – better mileage for manual than standard automatic, but CVT beats both.

    I could list more cars, but you get the point. The cars that get better mileage with automatics are mainly CVTs, DSGs, and GM cars. And most of the above cars undoubtedly accelerate better with manuals than with torque converter automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A lot of recently designed automatics get better fuel economy than the manuals. The Ford Fusion, Mustang, and Fiesta all get better fuel economy with the automatic than the manual (though to be fair, the Fiesta is a dry dual-clutch automated manual unit).

  • avatar

    I think this is a reaction to increased traffic. If I’m driving highway or isolated two lanes, I prefer stick. If I’m picking up milk bread and kids in town or going into “the city” then the automatic rules, because you are not ‘really driving’, just sort of positioning your car in the pack. There is no joy in shifting from stoplight to stoplight.

    I learned to ride a motorcycle and shift before a car, so when I learned in a Datsun with a 5 speed manual there was little learning curve, except that the car had a very wide powerband compared to a two stroke MX bike.

    I special ordered my last two new cars to have a stick. Even BMW wasn’t chock full of manuals…had to order.

  • avatar
    eka

    I very much enjoy driving manuals, but I have to say I find them MORE distracting than automatics. Especially for the first several months or so of driving one, sitting there thinking about the gears and shifts distracted me from being the safest driver I could be. Then again, part of the problem may have been that my 2004 Honda Civic Value Package (manual transmission) was so stripped-down it didn’t have a tach!

  • avatar
    Sam P

    It may be, but European cities have lots of traffic (despite mass transit – rush hour in Zurich is pretty lousy) and a very high take rate on manual transmissions.

    • 0 avatar

      You are absolutely right, but I think that is motivated (sorry) by the $5 per gallon gas. France taxes automatics more than manuals-I recall seeing a tax chart where engine displacement plus/minus transmission choice equaled yearly registration fee. IIRC, the worst was a large v8 with automatic, but they were lenient on that with a diesel. You paid by displacement….and the tiny engines this encourages don’t have 15% or 10% to toss away on the slippage.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Back during the earlier days of the internet I learned HTML basically just to play around. At the time I thought anyone who used WYSIWYG style page-builders instead of notepad.exe or a code based editor was a pussy. Obviously technology has marched on and most people use programs that look a lot more like publishing page layout WYSIWYG programs than code based editors, and with CSS, and all the various scripting that is now common I couldn’t imagine trying to code a decent looking modern webpage using just notepad.

    Technology marches on. Manuals were good when they were all that was available or when the early automatics robbed fuel economy and performance. These days though even traditional torque converter based automatics can give manuals a run for the money, and automated manual boxes like VW’s DSG, and Porsche’s PDK (they missed a huge marketing opportunity by not finding a way to make that acronym PDQ) give you the best of both worlds – the control over the exact gear in an instant of a manual, the lack of parasitic loss due to no torque converter, and the ease of use of an automatic. Yes, there is less driver engagement, and I do think driving a stick can be fun on occasion, but I fall into the same camp as 90%+ of the US car buying public in that I would never buy a daily driver with a stick, the convenience trade off is too much.

    Enthusiast targeted vehicles will continue to offer manuals as long as there are enough people that want them. Vehicles that aren’t typically bought for corner carving fun, say, pretty much everything but sports cars, really have no need for manuals because only a tiny percentage of the buying public would ever want one.

    The anti-distracted driving angle is also a bit of a red herring. Those that currently text and drive would continue to do so, or at least try to do so, with a manual, and just make the whole experience that much more dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The anti-distracted driving angle is also a bit of a red herring. Those that currently text and drive would continue to do so, or at least try to do so, with a manual, and just make the whole experience that much more dangerous.

      I agree – and disagree with that statement. While an experienced driver in some cases can certainly get away with it, an new inexperienced driver is forced to focus on driving – especially in a low powered car on hilly terrain. It’s been less than two years since I taught my son to drive a manual, so I have first-hand experience.

      We live in an area with a lot of hills and curves. In addition, he has a somewhat underpowered car with a five speed. To keep that car moving, you’re forced to stay very alert and aware of the road and terrain conditions. If you’re not, it’s going to stall on the hills very quickly.

      Not only does the manual keep him focused, I think it was also good at teaching him to anticipate road conditions. You really have to be constantly thinking ahead to keep that little car moving around here.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I’m sad to see manual transmissions vanishing, too, but I’m not sure about the approach, either.

    I think the video would be better if they just shot, say, a close up view of a stick shift as a car is flogged around a check, mingled with the sound of the engine–especially with rev matching–and, after a little bit of that, just put something across the screen like, “Remember fun?” Maybe next time.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      This would have been a much better video to use.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5djWO2oCSo

      However, this Porsche may have some form of PDK. I can’t tell.

      Also, being that this is an enthusiast oriented site, I’m surprised at the attitude of apathy/dismissal towards manual transmissions of many of the posters here.

      I live near Seattle, which has horrid rush hour traffic, many steep hills, awfully maintained roads and I manage just fine with a clutch. 90% of Americans have much easier driving conditions than I do.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      I agree with you SamP. I never found a manual a huge bother to use in rush hour traffic. I can definitely get better fuel economy and performance from a manual, shifting when I want to, and coasting a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      Great video, thanks. I’m also a bit surprised by the attitudes.

      Maybe Subaru will help, since they’re already doing stuff like this:

  • avatar
    msquare

    I admit my experience is mainly with used cars, but I have never owned an automatic-equipped car whose transmission didn’t fail at least once.

    Some family members have had better luck, but in my experience, a tranny rebuild is basically a maintenance item. You don’t know exactly when it will fail, but you know it’s inevitable.

    That said, I’ve gone 178,000, 225,000 175,000 and 132,000 miles on manual cars without replacing a clutch. Two fell victim to auto accidents (in which I wasn’t at fault), one is rusting away in need of engine work and the last I currently drive.

  • avatar
    Rada

    Manuals are a nuissance in modern times. I can achive better fuel economy with an auto, I can do pretty much arbitrary shifting by modulating the accelerator pedal, I can do engine braking by selecting D4, D3, D2, and D1. And I don’t have to worry about the stick when stuck on US-101 in the morning. Plus, with DSG and what not, you can have both fun and convenience in one advanced automatic package.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I’ve driven manual tranny cars most of my life, but sadly, the new “run-on” programming of the fuel injection in my Elantra (and I hear, many new cars) and the aggressive throttle right off of idle make it a real challenge (and a chore) to drive the car smoothly. The other evening, I was on a steep hill at a stoplight which turned green, and I proceeded to rev the motor to 3000rpm with a quick transition from the brake to the gas. I felt like an idiot; my ’97 Camaro (3800V6) was much smoother off-idle.

    Let’s just say that modern throttle programming seems to be made for automatics (at least in econoboxes), to give the vehicle a feeling of being more powerful than it is, but that sucks if you’re trying to “row your own”.

    My next car will be a 6-speed auto (hopefully with paddle shifters to ease the transition).

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I think that may just be an Elantra-specific issue, as the manual transmissions I’ve driven in late model (2-6 year old) BMWs and Subarus exhibit none of the characteristics you mentioned.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Try a newer Subaru. My 09 WRX has some of the throttle oddities, presumably for emissions. I have heard from an engineer the sudden throttle drops between shifting are hard to control from an emissions standpoint, so now that your foot is not really connected to the throttle plate they can just do whatever they need to do.

      Its OK though, I decided against the Lancer Ralliart because I wasn’t quite ready to have a computer shift for me.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I’ve read on a few meaasge boards that other small-engined manuals (Honda Fit as one case) hang on to revs to prevent that “puff” of excess emissions that used to happen with earlier carburated/EFI cars – probably to keep the ULEV rating of the autobox. ^^^ Oops – beaten!

  • avatar
    william442

    Last spring, my daughter and I, not at the same time, took the 14 year old out in the S 2000 6 speed. It took him almost ten minutes to learn, but he can use a clutch, and shift just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Honda manual transmissions are among the best of the mass market makers.
      I love my Acura TSX 6-speed. The salesman tells me that less than 10% of buyers want a manual. When shopping, the usual dealer has many auto cars and just one manual.
      My biggest traffic annoyance for manual drivers: The creepers. They pull up to a stop light and stop. And then move their cars up a car length or so requiring manual drivers to inch their cars up too. I refuse to move my car these small distances (with the attendant clutch/accelerator action).

  • avatar
    eka

    For people going through the months-long learning curve of getting truly comfortable with a manual, driving a manual can actually be MORE distracting. I am very well-coordinated, but I was frankly a somewhat dangerous driver as I got used to my new 2004 Honda Civic. Thinking constantly about shifts and gears and what to do with my feet significantly reduced my situational awareness while driving. While I really enjoy driving a stick – my husband had a 2007 Mustang Shelby GT for a while, which was pretty fun – it still requires a lot more thought about stuff going on *inside* the vehicle rather than outside it.
    To be honest, I don’t even think I ever got “truly comfortable” with the manual. I am a safer driver with an automatic.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I’m with obbop and mikey. Skip shift put the final nail in the coffin for me.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …far more people now seem to associate cars with commuter tedium than fun

    Nothing sales “Get off my lawn” more than a sentence like this.

    Most people have always associated cars with commuter tedium, but automatics were sufficiently expensive and poorly-performing as to make manuals a viable option. Since overdrive gears and the lockup torque converter, the manual’s obit has been written, just as the crank starter and the carburetor were.

    I personally prefer a manual because they’re cheap to fix and I like the involvement, but I don’t, by any stretch, think that the nature of drivers has changed.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    As a life-long manny tranny guy, I have to admit that “fun” and “bragging rights” are just about the last remaining arguments for a manual. Although, if you are one of those who has to replace a failing autobox — at $3-$4K+ — you might consider that those dollars buy a lot of clutch jobs. The virtue of the manual is its simplicity, which makes it reliable and easy (inexpensive) to repair. Some autoboxes are stone reliable for well over 100K miles; and others fail well before that mark. Just about all of them are unrepairable; if they fail, you replace them. And the new DSG and other torque converterless autoboxes are unknown quantities in terms of reliability and, if they fail, I suspect are equally difficult to repair.

    With 5, 6, and 7 gears, all governed by electronics, even torque converter autoboxes give away little to manuals for both fuel economy and performance.

    Re the comment about autoboxes on farm tractors — having operated them in my youth in summer jobs, the principal function of a multi-gear transmission on a farm tractor is to match the vehicle speed to that required by the implement or device that you are operating, within the realtively narrow RPM range in which farm tractor engines operate. Except to get a tractor up to travel speed (about 20 mph), one does not “go through the gears” from a dead stop in a farm tractor. A farm tractor easily can move from a stop up to speed with any working gear in its transmission. For travel, you get the tractor moving in the highest working gear and then shift up to the road gear. The last “autobox” farm tractor I operated (still about 40 years ago), had a 10-speed torque converter/planetary gear transmission. You still used a footpedal like a clutch (which controlled the torque converter) to get the machine moving from a stop, but it was not needed to change gears while the machine was moving. Having a tractor creep like an autobox car with the transmission engaged, is a PITA.

    But the real reason for autobox farm tractors is that it’s easier to cram in more gears, which more precisely matches the tractor’s speed to the needs of the work it is doing.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Operating the transmission one way or another is not the only way to have fun driving a car. I don’t have a manual, or a sports car, or even 100 ponies…but I still drive for fun. I imagine some people have more fun driving with a manual, while others would rather flick a paddle or tap a stick or just let the computer handle the shifts.

    Hardly anyone associates Ferraris with commuter tedium, and yet…they no longer offer true manuals. I have a feeling they’re still fun, though.

    FWIW though, I’d probably personally have more fun if my car had a manual…and RWD. And a biturbo V12. But I don’t.

    But I still have fun.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    This video was clearly not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a takeoff on all the save whales/save the children ads. Isn’t that obvious? I can’t believe how seriously some people are taking it.

    C&D is simply trying to start a viral campaign that drives their name and traffic to their site. Nothing wrong with that.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Does anyone on here work within a major vehicle manufacturer who could put a number on the percentage of manual transmissions sold in passenger cars? I’m guessing a majority of manual trannies these days either end up on cheapo-mobiles or higher end sporty cars.

  • avatar
    Boff

    So much for the new media. A paper magazine launching an effective and amusing viral campaign, unwittingly abetted by a “we’re so serious it hurts” automotive blog?

    You go, Eddie!

  • avatar
    V572625694

    I read Car and Driver religiously as a youngster, and enjoyed its sassy style, occasional excellent writing (e.g., Warren Weith), and thin content. Now I pick it up once in a while for an in-flight read, but the latest issue grossed me out. I don’t care about what John Steinbeck’s son (or any other celebrity who isn’t a professional driver) thinks about cars.

    Adios, C&D. You’ve achieved true irrelevance.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t care about what John Steinbeck’s son (or any other celebrity who isn’t a professional driver) thinks about cars.

      Plus freaking one. I picked up that same issue at the airport thinking maybe I should give the buff books another shot… bad move. Keep in  mind, I was stuck at the airport, desperate for any kind of entertainment, and I hadn’t been on the internet for several days… in short, I was feeling about as non-judgemental and desperate for entertainment as I get. Even in this desperate state, I found that issue of C&D and the contemporary issue of Automobile to be about as compelling as the food at this particular airport.
      Keep in mind that I love magazines as a format… I have an old-fashioned love for reading off of paper that’s on-par with my love for manual transmissions. Unfortunately I have to pay an exorbitant amount to get my fix, as the only car mags worth reading are all made in Europe. As an American, this is nearly as depressing for me as the struggling state of America’s domestic automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      C&D died with Warren. Even my wife (four speed Mustang V8) read him.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I might be in the minority but I actually think a good planetary automatic with torque convertor is the best automatic transmission out there. Powerglides and TurboHydramatics were shifting in the blink of an eye long before Ferrari was doing it with their F1 stuff, just ask a local drag racer. Parasitic losses have been addressed with lock-up clutches. Lack of engine braking is just a tuning issue. Any gear can be selected immediately there is no need for pre-selection. The torque convertor does a good CVT impression requiring less overall gears.

    The final cherry on top for me would be a manual shifting lever or paddles that give immediate action. All the automatic overrides and slow repsonse hasn’t done it for me with the auto-manuals yet. If the response could come close to that of a full manual valve-body I would be psyched.

    The death of the manual is inevtible, but until then I am loving my manuals and my clutch foot is condtioned enough to survive traffic jams.

  • avatar
    plee

    Last month my wife and I drove many miles on Skyline Drive in Virginia in my 07 Mustang GT 5 speed. For a few miles we were following a new Altima 4 cylinder with CVT. Guess who was having more fun?

    Who cares if an automatic is equally fuel efficient and just as quick in some cars? What happened to the pure enjoyment of matching revs and snicking through a nice short throw gearbox? To say nothing of listening to a V8 crackling and popping as you slow down in the lower gears or the mechanical whine of the tranmission as you go up through second and third gears.

    As a former Porsche salesman, I am amazed at the recent decline in the number of manuals sold in their cars. I have driven many 911s and Boxsters with automatic and believe me they are not nearly as much fun as a manual.

  • avatar

    Not even DSGs are better, in terms of fuel economy, than a manual transmission with the same ratios in the real world. A DSG box is a big, heavy piece of equipment, and that takes its toll on economy. It’s not as bad as a traditional torque converter automatic, but still a tick behind the manual transmission in terms of economy… though it provides 99% of the economy of a manual with much faster shifts and more convenience.

    CVTs are definitely more economical (if you have the right kind… a dry system without a TC…) but the most economical CVTs I’ve driven have also been the most fragile (Honda, I’m looking at you…).

    Still… new ATs are so convenient and allow the driver to focus more on actually, well, DRIVING, that the dip in economy is a small price to pay for the loss of the three-pedal tango.

  • avatar
    97cavy22

    I am surprised by the number of auto enthusiest on this site who honestly feel the manaual transmission has no place in a modern car. Europe has similar rush hour traffic, and more city streets than america, so why do they sell so well over there?

    Because Americans are so damn lazy they cannot get over having to push a clutch pedal, it’s to much “work” Therefore most will never give a manual the chance to wow them.

    It’s a same, but thats the direction our society is heading in, why go outside and play baseball when I can play it on playstation? Why walk down the steps and ask my brother for something when I can just call his cell phone? Why would I push a clutch pedal when my transmission can do it for me, and allow time for me to text and play with the radio??

    lazy, lazy, lazy.

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