By on May 15, 2012

Welcome to Two Minutes Hate, in which we, the TTAC staff, will choose some hapless writer and/or industry person and then flog that person with all the verbal viciousness we can summon up. Complaints about “negativity”, “hatefulness”, and “substandard caviar served during the press dinner” are not welcome here. This is Two Minutes Hate. Thank you — JB

Did you know that there is an “ascetic populism [added to] to the inherent machismo of the engine-revving manual transmission”? My mother, who was a Palm Beach deb prior to driving a lifetime’s worth of stick-shift MGs, Honda, Nissan trucks, and Mercurys even while suffering from advanced sarcoidosis, apparently never got the memo on that. Same for my ex-wife, who used to flog an SRT-4 around Nelson Ledges once a month or so until the vacuum hoses performed their inevitable high-boost seppuku. Come to think of it, the number of women who have daily-driven a manual-transmission must be in the hundreds of millions, particularly given the fact that many developing markets still don’t have slushbox volume models.

In today’s edition of Salon, however, David Sirota attempts to make the case that driving a stick shift is, like, totes manly. He devotes a few paragraphs to how he “can’t let go of [his] love for the stick” using language that wouldn’t be out of place in the inevitable “tween” edition of Fifty Shades Of Grey. Having convinced himself, at least, that choosing a particular transmission is just about as manly as dunking over Akeem The Dream while simultaneously using one’s toes to digitally violate Rihanna, Sirota then comes to the inevitable conclusion: stick shifts are bad, mmmkay?

According to Sirota, “AOL Autos” has declared that automatic transmissions are now just as efficient as manuals. Faced with this terrifying piece of unimpeachable information, and desperately needing to crank out a column in order to justify his existence on this planet, Sirota goes on to say

Thanks to all this, on the days I don’t bike to work

Due to vaginal soreness, presumably.

and instead fire up my 11-year-old Saturn and shift it into first gear, I no longer feel so righteous or populist.

Oh, David, your voluntary ownership of an old Saturn makes you a real man of the people! Every single mother who is praying each morning for her Saturn to start so she can make it to McJob and feed her children that night basks in the reassuring glow of your decision to do the same!

I feel like part of the problem — not just because I’m driving a fossil fuel-dependent vehicle, but also because the manual transmission seems like a silly relic.

As opposed to your Saturn itself, which is a righteous populist relic of such righteous populist value that it should be placed behind glass and ritually kissed by the righteous populist American poor with whom you sympathize at a safe, but righteously and populistically so, distance.

Likewise, word that manual transmissions may be coming back no longer seems like such great news; it seems like more proof that when it comes to transportation, we’re still prone to making shortsighted decisions.

Spoken like a man who has never had his family stranded by the side of the road by a recalcitrant old transverse-mounted papier-mache transmission, or personally known anyone who has been in the same situation. Those of us who actually trawl in the low end of automotive ownership for real know that, with the exception of the occasional well-autocrossed Honda S2000, manual transmissions in small cars are durable where automatics often aren’t.

Truth be told, Sirota doesn’t actually care about the fuel economy of manual transmissions. His true problem with the idea of self-shifting is found in the oddly erotic sections of his column. In Sirota’s mind, driving a manual is one of those bizarre masculine rituals, like “blood pinning”, motorcycle racing, or heterosexual intercourse for the purpose of procreation, that no longer has any legitimate purpose in his World Of The Future. We’ve covered that ground recently so there’s nothing more that should be said about that right now…

…except that he’s wrong. There is nothing inherently masculine about operating a stick-shift. Women do it all the time, around the world, and usually think nothing of it. In fact, a lot of the early demand curve for the Accord and its contemporaries was driven, pardon the pun, by women who were surprisingly calm about the idea of purchasing such vehicles. Dare I ever mention the original VW Beetle, which was nominally available in a clutchless “autostick” but rarely delivered as such?

Never mind. If Sirota wants to keep his righteously populist Saturn, he’s going to need to come up with an even more PC, populist, feminized reason for doing so. Luckily, he’s a bright guy.

That’s why I was happy to see that there remains one significant reason to still love the manual transmission — a reason that’s substantive, rather than just aesthetic or experiential. In the age of distracted driving, many believe the stick shift might encourage kids to stay focused on operating their vehicles, rather than operating their smartphones. The idea is that because a manual transmission requires special attention to operate, it doesn’t allow for as much multitasking as an automatic.

My hairy ass it doesn’t. I drove my 911 to work this morning while eating a biscuit, drinking a soda, and aggressively sexting a number I thought belonged to Derek Kreindler’s girlfriend but turned out to be the property of a Cameroonian taxi driver working Yonge Street. (Sorry, Mr. Kony or whatever your name was.) Unless you deliberately fetishize the act to Sirotavian levels, driving a manual requires no “special attention” at all. Once in a while you have to reach down there near your genitalia, which may be of any shape you and/or your parents have determined, and move a lever. This guy makes it sound like it takes the sacrifice of a chicken coupled with precisely back-tracking the end of “Darling Nikki” on your iPod to change gear. In modern cars, with their endless torque and computerized throttles, you don’t even need the right gear in order to progress with traffic.

There’s been a tendency lately among the auto media to use the manual transmission as some sort of litmus test for automotive enthusiasm. This dumb-assery comes from the fact that operating a clutch represents the apex, pun intended, of the average journo’s accompishments. It’s human nature to set the barrier to entry for a particular club right under our own abilities. Ask any fraternity president. I would suggest that the bar either be set higher — as in automotive competition — or moved to somewhere that actually matters, like genuine interest in the automobile that is unaffiliated with free stuff, luxury travel, or impressing the neighbors. Either would work. Now, if you excuse me, I have to take a call from a female friend of mine who wants to know whether she should buy a Wrangler Sahara or Rubicon. She’s already decided on the six-speed manual for reasons of durability and resale value. Wait ’til I tell her that, according to David Sirota, she’s just grown a cock.

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110 Comments on “Two Minutes Hate: David Sirota Is Ashamed Of His Inauthentic Masculinity...”

  • avatar

    Two Minutes Hate. I love this new feature. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.

    Now, I’m going to read it.

  • avatar

    Guess I better check under my wife’s skirt, because she drives a manual-transmission Outback wagon. With that car though, you do have to be in the right gear in traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. My wife had a manual transmission Civic when I met her. The way she matter-of-factly yet expertly operated that transmission was incredibly sexy to me. She just drove the car, handled hills and traffic with aplomb, and didn’t make a big deal that it had a manual. I guess that makes me gay or something?

      Is it just me, or have we entered an era where everything that a human being does or does not do has some kind of social statement associated with it? Not everything is laden with meaning…most things just need to be done. Operating a standard transmission is a basic human skill like pounding a nail or cradling an infant.

  • avatar

    Jeez, how do you not spontaneously combust from your own hate?

    My wife drives a stick, I’m about 103% certain she’s not a guy, as my daughter would stand proof. I do think she could kick Jack’s ass, though ;)

  • avatar

    “Wait ’til I tell her that, according to David Sirota, she’s just grown a cock.”

    Your female friend should be able to find lots of work as a model for Japanese manga porn.

  • avatar

    I, too, have wondered about this recent fuss surrounding the authenticity of a manual. A 5-speed Milan is now more of a driver’s car simply by virtue of it having a stick? It sure isn’t a fast car. Nor is it a sporty car. Neither was it a marketable car, as it languished for six months before being sold for $500 over what I paid for it. To a woman. Of 75. I didn’t even know it was a stick when I bought it. All I knew is that its was a pretty color, below rough book, and didn’t start when I turned the key. Oh wait…there’s a clutch. Damn.

    I can drive a stick, but prefer an automatic. I’m teaching my girlfriend to drive a stick just ’cause, not to make her TEH ULTIMATE AUTO ENTHOOOSIEST!!!!11

    Drive sticks. Or not. Doesn’t make you any more/less of a car enthusiast just because a select few qualify their ranks by their own personal preferences to mask their lack of REAL enthusiasm for cars.

  • avatar

    Do transexuals drive dual-clutch automatics?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    So what does that make me?

    With my W203 Benz equipped with the dreaded and maligned autostick, which I can just leave in Auto when I am texting or eating my Big Mac and fries, or I upshift and downshift like Lance Armstrong in a mountain stage if I want to get my Steve McQueen on…

    Does driving an auto-stick mean I secretly play for both teams? Should (my outwardly hetero self) be thanking the stars for our first gay president?

    Well, I’m not confused. Let me join you in loathing Mr. Sirota…..

  • avatar

    Sirota’s article deserves way more than just two minutes of hate. Even by the low standards of pseudo auto-journalism, it’s naval-gazing drivel.

    My wife drives a manual Cayman and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make her feel masculine. Although she probably could kick Sirota’s ass.

  • avatar

    You know, I don’t get all the Saturn loathing. My wife drives an SC2 (manual transmission, natch) and as long as you remember to add a quart of oil every couple weeks to replace the startlingly large amount that the engine burns, it’s been nothing but reliable. Sure, like all Saturn S-cars, it’s a noisy, rattling piece of crap made out of recycled plastic garbage cans, but it’s always been reliable as a cockroach, the garbage-can exterior shows no visible rust (unlike Civics and Cavaliers of the same vintage), and from the amount of the instantly-recognizable S-cars I see on the road I don’t think it’s an outlier.

    • 0 avatar

    • 0 avatar

      well, maybe because Saturn was introduced as america’s answer to the Hondas and Toyotas of the world. and then GM sold us noisy plastic garbage cans. that might be why.

      • 0 avatar

        They really were RELIABLE (apart from the oil burning) noisy plastic garbage cans, though. The one I gave to my daughter with 175K on the clock would undoubtedly still be running strong if she hadn’t crashed it. (On the topic of stick shifts and gender, it was a manual and she learned to drive in it.)

  • avatar

    I really object to this. Two minutes of hate is clearly not enough.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yup, Sirota is clueless. My (at the time a few years ago) 32 year old ass was schooled in the finer points of driving a manual transmission by a 25 year old woman.

    She was taught by her father who has a rock solid belief in buying new cars and wanted his daughters to be able to drive the cheapest most stripped down models on the lot. Nothing to do with manliness but every thing that has to do with being poor but proud. Now my lady sees driving a manual as being more connected to the car. She would be a candidate for a manual trans AWD CUV. (Sorry she has an irrational hatred of wagons.)

  • avatar

    I’m 12 years old and what is this?

  • avatar

    Good article, Jack, but I could have used just a touch more venom, perhaps with a side of bile, and a botulin chaser. This particular class of effete, limp-wristed folk need to be knocked up ‘side the head with a good set of clutch plates.

    Try harder, next time. Please? Do it for the children.

  • avatar

    When I met my wife in 1990 I was driving a Porsche 944 S2 with a 5 speed manual. We went on one of our first dates to the Dallas Symphony and when we left she said “I want to drive your car”. Being completely PW’d by that time I complied. She drove it like she stole it. Turns out her father insisted all of his daughters learn to drive manuals so they could drive any car to escape an abusive situation. Good advice that I plan to pass on to our daughter.

  • avatar

    I hope Jack’s attention hasnt somehow elevated this clown into the ranks of those so-called comedy roast idiots who are famous for nothing.

    Good score on this one.

  • avatar

    Obviously the ability to drive a manual transmission is independent of sex; just go to any developed country outside North America and you will see plenty of female drivers operating stick shifts. It’s a relatively simple skill that almost anyone can develop with patience and practice.

    However I think the following observations support my contention that the majority of American women don’t want to be bothered rowing their own:

    1. When I attended high school circa 1970 almost all the school buses had manual transmissions and all the drivers were men.
    2. Nowadays most/all school buses are automatic and most/all drivers are women
    3. Most UPS delivery trucks around here are manual, and most of the drivers men.
    4. Most Fedex delivery trucks around here are automatic and perhaps half of the drivers are women.

    • 0 avatar

      Lisa, “By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.”

      Homer, “Hmm; how does it work?”

      Lisa, “It doesn’t work; it’s just a stupid rock!”

      Homer, “Uh-huh.”

      Lisa, “… but I don’t see any tigers around, do you?”

      Homer, “Lisa, I want to buy your rock…”

  • avatar

    Nice rant, but who’s David Sirota and why should I care what he thinks?

    • 0 avatar


      Any time I see this kind of writing:

      “Likewise, word that manual transmissions may be coming back no longer seems like such great news; it seems like more proof that when it comes to transportation, we’re still prone to making shortsighted decisions.”

      I tune out. I hate being lumped in with some kind of aggregate “we”, as in, “we” spend two hours a day on Facebook, “we” bought more organic arugula last year than ever before, “we” are more politically polarized than in 1989.

      Mr Sirota,”I” would like you to go f*** yourself.

      How’s that for two minutes’ hate?

  • avatar

    “Wait ’til I tell her that, according to David Sirota, she’s just grown a cock.”

    I’ve always liked a woman with balls……..uhhhhhhh……..maybe I shouldn’t respond to literal quotes with figurative expression.

    Anyway, Sirota’s theory about driving stick is incorrect, which makes me wonder if he actually drives stick or if he’s just going through the motions. Perhaps he drives stick like he expresses his own manhood? Just going through the motions. TTAC should interview his wife to get to the bottom of it.

    I think manuals make for better drivers b/c manuals change the order of operations, in Gen Y terms, manuals change the priority on a torrent from normal to high. Shifting and driving always have greater importance in the subconscious. I’ve gone for a bite of cheeseburger, only to chomp down on my own tongue as the transmission gives an audible signal to my right hand that it is time to shift from third to fourth. One time I almost had a man cry in a traffic jam. I reached to scratch a mosquito bite on my left ankle, but I couldn’t find my ankle anywhere. Thankfully I remembered my Cub Scout training. I stopped panicking. I located my left knee. Then I followed the shin bone to my ankle, which was dutifully hovering over the clutch. I tolerate the shift-wish of my autonomously functioning limbs with the same uneasy suspicion Dr. Stangelove has for his uncontrollable limbs.

    So far, my mouth is yet to follow my hand down to the gear shift, but keep your eye on the obituaries. This rabbit hole could be a lot deeper than we know.

  • avatar

    This article is righteous and populist. Two minutes irony.

  • avatar

    My ex-wife and current mistress both drive manuals.

    I’m not sure how a manual is manly. That would be like saying turning on your own wipers, instead of relying on a rain sensor to start them, is manly. “Yo brah, I turn my wipers on my damn self, makes my triceps ripped, brah.” Or using a key to unlock your doors, instead of keyless entry, is manly. Though, you do get to penetrate something.

    Quite manly. Brah.

    I’m so manly, I wrote this post on a type writer.

  • avatar

    Rowing the gears is just more fun (in a small car or truck, that is). Many women know this. I don’t feel less manly in my shaggin’ wagon, just because it shifts itself. But I did once know a woman who drove a huge dump truck, and her arms were as big as my legs.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Great piece, Jack – I despise Sirota anyway, so it’s win-win. A cousin of mine was up here visiting from Waterboro recently, and I complimented her on her newish Wrangler. I opened the door and discovered that it was a six-speed. When I mentioned it to her a bit later on, she said, “Yeah – do you know that I had to go clear down into western Mass. to find one with a manual gearbox?” I also recall those autostick Bugs – a friend had a ’70 when we were in high school, and we swapped the autobox out for a 4-speed . . .

  • avatar

    I could have set my watch by Sirota’s use of “silly relic”.

    Progressivists are always trying to herd bitter clingers — and everyone else — into a socially-engineered future. They like to chide with “silly”, when they aren’t demonizing and isolating us, and calling for regulations and taxes to force us into line.

  • avatar

    I play with my stick on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times, but I never turn down an opportunity to sample the other type of equipment.

    …if you know what I mean.

  • avatar

    Well, in the first place his piece is in Salon. Isn’t that a pu$$ified venue? Like a beauty salon?

  • avatar

    It drives me nuts when I hear “my wife refuses to drive a manual” excuse.
    I taught my wife and my sister how to drive a manual and both were convinced they would suck and could never learn how to row your own.
    Years later both drive manual trans and would not have it any other way.
    They are part of a distinct minority and they know it.
    Women driving manuals is sexy.
    Now I just need to convince them how to double clutch but I’m getting major push back on that one.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      My ex-wife refused to drive a manual for one reason….she found it difficult to do while wearing stilleto heels.

      For that, I gave her a pass.

      • 0 avatar

        Stiletto heels must have more power than I have previously thought. I rarely drive ANY car in heels, for the same reason I rarely wear them on pavement – it ruins them. So, I “commute” in other shoes, and change when I arrive at my destination. I don’t think this is unusual. I’m calling cop-out on this refusal.

  • avatar

    I was 16 once. I drove a stick. If cell phones were around and some chick texted me while driving, well, I’ll suggest the well-documented priorities of every 16 year-old – male or female – clearly make obvious the fact that Mr. Sirota needs to find another argument for justifying his particular tranny fetish.

  • avatar

    So, am I the only one who is reading a buncha dudes who normally go out of their way to say “I’d only drive the manual” distancing themselves from this public flogging of a slightly more prominent dude who is pointing out that the afore-mentioned buncha dudes would only drive a manual, and speculates as to why that might be?

    Maybe I’m crazy?

  • avatar

    oh dear. my stomach hurts. anyway…

    I consider it my duty to teach kids to drive sticks. I’ve taught ten or 12 of them. My cousin Renee was a natural with the clutch. The first time she tried, she was smooth (her husband owns a ’94 BMW 3 series with a slushbox). And one of my students, another young woman, now owns a Forester with a stick. (I don’t know if her boyfriend can drive it.) My worst student was my nephew, Aaron. (Forgive me Aaron if you should read this, but I know it won’t bother you.) My last two girlfriends are competent stick drivers (a good thing because I like to have someone who can drive my car if I have a bit too much bourbon).

    As for Sirota, an automotive writer owns an 11 year old SATURN???!

  • avatar

    Most French women who can drive can drive a stick.

  • avatar

    Back in the days when I had my ’77 Corolla, I used to do a lot of clutchless shifting. I told a girlfriend I had at the time that the great thing about “these old Toyotas” (this was ’91) was that you could do that. Next thing I know, she’s taught herself how to clutchless shift.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “Back in the days when I had my ’77 Corolla, I used to do a lot of clutchless shifting.”


    • 0 avatar

      this was also easy to do in my 1987 Civic Si. it didn’t even have a clutch safety switch for the starter. oh.. how many times did I start it in gear and then promptly ram whatever was in front of it.

      but anyways.. yeah the gearbox was so well worn that the only time the clutch was necessary was to move off from a stop in first.

  • avatar

    Unless you regulate your mixture with a knob, you’re not a real enthusiast. OK, I can allow not setting your spark advance, but only for the girly men, as Ahnuld used to say.

  • avatar

    Jack, That was excellent. Can you imagine how miserable this guys life must be always with the pc over thinking. Great piece.

  • avatar

    power steering is for the feeble and weak!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Amusing rant, but proceeds from a false premise: that anything in Salon is worth the time it takes to read it.

    If memory serves, at one time Salon was a Microsoft-funded venture, which attempted unsuccessfully to operate behind a paywall. Now it’s owned by the Washington Post Co., who at least had the good sense to unload Newsweek.

    The germ of truth in the article is that, these days the car-as-an-appliance crowd would have nothing to do with a manual. That requires too much effort and involvement. And, let’s face it, the car-as-more-than-an-appliance is likely more male than female.

    And there’s the initiation rite/barrier to entry phenomenon. Anything that has a barrier to entry is–by definition– more desirable and attractive. Since few people can simply jump into a stickshift car and drive without prior experience and/or training, that makes it a somewhat exclusive club.

    • 0 avatar

      Memory fails…you are describing Slate. Salon is a Left Coast venue for progressive thinkers, if Wikipedia is correct. As to the rest of your commentary, you are dead on.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        I think your sentence should have read, “Salon is a Left Coast venue for progressive WANKERS, if Wikipedia is correct.”

        Other than that, spot on.

  • avatar

    I think I’m going to cry now, Jack. It’s only the buthchness of my stick shift that lends me the dignity to drive my $i$$y Miata.

    I’m going to go buy a pint of chocolate Haagen-Dazs right this minute. In my Miata. Call me.

  • avatar

    To me, it’s not about shifting gears, it’s about being able to drop the clutch…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Real men are secure enough to let the car shift its own gears.

  • avatar

    I’m sick and tired of hearing about manuals. My 2012 GLI has a manual for the following reasons (listed in order of decreasing importance:

    – It was a thousand bucks cheaper than the automatic.
    – I trust VW’s DSG about as far as I can throw it.
    – I enjoy the feel of driving a manual.
    – My parents forced a series of hand-me-down slushbox Hondas on me during high school, so I have deep-seated psychological bias towards manual-shift non-Hondas.
    – I think manuals are “cool.”

    I love having a manual. I love having that extra link with the machine that requires I use both my arms and legs at all times (ditto on motorcycles). I’ll also readily admit that heavy clutches and crappy shift linkages (especially in heavy traffic) make me yearn for automatics.

    I’ll also admit that there’s something oddly sexy about women who drive a stick. That has more to do with me being a chauvinist pig more than anything.

  • avatar

    “There is nothing inherently masculine about operating a stick-shift.”

    There is nothing masculine about David Sirota or Salon.

    My wife used to drive a 2003 MiniCooper S with a 6-speed stick. She loved it. Had to dump it when her arthritis got to much for it.

  • avatar

    Didn’t the founder of this website declare the manual clutch dead when he drove the new at the time Audi A3? That being said, I learned to drove stick from my high school girlfriend, and now my wife and I both drive stick. It’s just more fun!

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re going to have an auto, get the A3 or the GTI. That autobox doesn’t have the same ‘driving fun’ feel of a clutch/shifter dance, but it’s also not the same as driving a Lucerne. A nice middle ground for those who can’t have a stick, or live in a city with heavy traffic.

  • avatar

    Bravo and very well said! This David Shitora plays on a perception to carry an agenda and then has the audacity to claim Auto’s are as efficient. DSG’s yes, any other type it depends on the price but generaly… hell no!
    What a chop!

  • avatar

    Tell your friend if she is concerned about resale value to get the Rubicon. Oh, and by the way, both of my Wranglers are manuals.

  • avatar
    CA Guy

    I thought this argument was settled by Vivian hauling Edward around in that Lotus so many year ago.

    Of my group of close friends, the ones who are most attached to manual shifting are all women.

  • avatar

    Bravo, sir – this Denver-area resident appreciates the Sirota smack-down, and wishes it would happen more often.

    (And yes, I own a G35 with a 6-speed, so there.)

  • avatar

    A manual Saturn? Child’s play.

    Try a twin-stick 1948 Diamond T with a screaming Jimmy. THAT will connect you with the road.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    I would argue that the converse is true. Automatic transmissions are inherently feminine.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I hope some old girl who learned how to shift gears on the “three on the tree” in her daddy’s pick-up would stop and beat Sirota’s candy-ass with something out of the bed of said truck

  • avatar

    It’s okay. He’ll never suspect my Volvo wagon.

  • avatar

    Time to go back to my dystopian reality.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe that no one has pointed this out: With liberals everything is about dongs. Guns=Dongs. Cars=Dongs. Stick Shift=Dongs. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures=big time Dongs.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    The article wasn’t that bad, Sirota is an ok writer and I understood his point even though the article sounded a bit like reading Soviet proletariat bathroom literature.

    As much as I love TTAC, I can’t help but feel that I times the whole ‘rebel anger’ thing gets a bit corny. Can someone get Baruth to do more videos

  • avatar

    Mr. Sirota has made me realize that I haven’t been enjoying driving stick as much as I should, I should focus a little harder and I may finish before I get to the grocery.

  • avatar

    The reason we don’t drive stick shifts is because people aren’t required to learn how to drive them.

    Give us 2 different licenses one that allows stick and automatics and one for automatics only and you’ll see a rise in stick shifts just because people will want the “better” license.

    It will be a significant change in population but it won’t be the majority.

    And my mother and grandmother drove stick. Every girlfriend I’ve ever had can drive a stick. You go to other countries and people don’t think twice about driving a stick.

    Can we take David Sirota out back behind the woodshed and put him out of his unmasculine misery.

    Come on. he drives a Saturn.

    Stick shifts are fun and obviously for someone of his low testosterone level driving a stick in a saturn must be some visceral thrill and anyone with real testosterone will fail to understand.

    You’d think he’d at least be talking about a miata the way he wrote the story, but I’m guessing that’s too aggressive a vehicle for him.

    I join you in your hate of this man JB.

  • avatar

    Look, I think maybe he’s on to something, and we should care about what our selfish choices in selecting a transmission are doing to the environment. Choosing the lesser-efficient transmission option is basically spewing out whole metric shittons of CO2 every time you press down on the accelerator. How dare you people completely disregard what your lower MPG figure (on whichever transmission option it is) is doing to ruin the Earth for my children and my children’s children.

    I want you to know that I practice what I preach. After doing painstaking amounts of research and deep soul-searching, I followed my conscience and chose the most efficient transmission option (which by amazing coincidence happens to be a manual) on my CTS-V.

    You’re welcome, world.

  • avatar

    What is all of this automatic vs manual thing? Don’t you shift a car by pushing in the clutch for 1st and letting in out for high?
    Shouldn’t Mr. Progressive Sirota be driving a Prius, Leaf or Volt?

  • avatar

    I’m much amused by the Two Minutes Hate, as I work for our version of “Miniluv”.

    That said, as the “female friend” in question, I will note that Salon writers do not have the power to cause appendages to appear. I don’t think even The Great One has the power to command that. (And no, I wont provide proof…one male friend who read the article already tried that.)

    What Jack failed to mention is that I have only ever driven an automatic. I once swore that when I managed to escape the city, I would buy a manual. I didn’t anticipate moving to the mountains. Guess I will learn quickly or face constant embarrassment! But how could I fail to learn with the great Jack Baruth as my instructor? I will have to report back on that whole Not needing the right gear thing, which will in no way be a reflection of his teaching abilities…

  • avatar
    Spencer Williams

    I can’t wait until you write one of these about yourself!

  • avatar

    that article reminded me of this other infamous pseudo-journalistic drivel:

  • avatar

    The first vehicle that I bought was a ’97 Ranger…. it was a 2.3 4 cylinder with the automatic. It didn’t take long to regret that purchase. Because of that slushbox, I promptly learned how to use a manual and eventually got an ’01 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner V6 with a 5 speed. Much better. After that I got an ’02 Maxima SE 6 speed. Even better. My current ’06 Mustang GT is automatic- not really by choice, it’s just the dealership I work at had it and wanted it gone. Too good of a deal to pass up and my Maxima didn’t really hold up too well. Like many others, I don’t see it being masculine either, I just prefer having more control… even to this day, I still “tap” my missing third pedal in the Mustang from time to time.

    Going back to the article at hand….. one of my high school friends had a Cavalier with a stick and she taught others how to drive her car…. yeah that’s really manly right there…..

  • avatar

    I’m just surprised that there wasn’t some Freudian nonsense as to how grasping the smooth, phallic shifter is a one of the few reaffirmations of a dwindling manhood in our modern society, like standing up to urinate, and farting in bed.

    Instead of berating Sirota for being a colossal douche, the only way he would be more populist if his bicycle was a fixie or a black dutch city bike, I’ll just reaffirm that the stick shift is not an antidote to distracted driving.

    Every car and truck I’ve owned, except for my GM trucks, has had a stick. You can text, eat, talk on the phone, change the radio stations, rummage through the storage bins for a CD (back in the day), drive with your knees, shift with your left hand–most stick shift drivers I know are expert left hand shifters while talking on the phone.

    People kept telling me how “bad” a stick is because you’re always thinking about how to shift, what gear to put it in, etc… Except the one day when I was a young man of 14 when I first learned to drive stick on an old school, non-hydraulic assist, Land Cruiser, I have NEVER thought about gears or shifting off of the race track. It’s just automatic in my brain–and to most people who still drive a stick to reaffirm their manhood, including my wife, apparently.

  • avatar

    Mr. Sirota’s piece is flawed on a lot of levels. But a lot of the vitriol being flung against it here (including Mr. Baruth’s) is based upon a ridiculous misinterpretation of what he wrote.

    Sirota’s claim is that automatics have improved to the point that sticks no longer serve a practical purpose, so that the latest increase in the take rate is more emotional than logical. Because he believes that automatics can achieve better fuel economy than manuals, this increase in manual car sales is not a good thing.

    There is a lot that is wrong with that argument, but the alleged masculinity of sticks or the lack thereof wasn’t particularly central to the argument that Sinota was making. Taking him out of context is fun, I know, but it’s missing the point.

    • 0 avatar

      The only metric that Mr. Sirota is using in his “article” is fuel economy. What about the manufacturing process of building and maintaining a car with an automatic or a manual transmission.

      An automatic is going to have more pipes, modules, sensors, actuators, valves and it will weigh more and produce more heat. How do you weigh the long term environmental impact of a potential 1 mpg savings over a manual if the manufacturing process is more environmentally intense?

      • 0 avatar

        “The only metric that Mr. Sirota is using in his “article” is fuel economy.”

        The funny thing is that he applies that standard arbitrarily. He quotes AOL Autos for support (“computer technology has advanced to the point where “automatics have become so efficient that most of the time their fuel economy is on par with manuals — and in some cases even better.”), as if the automatic being on par with the manual is a strike against the manual. That would suggest to me that the automatics have improved, not that the manuals are bad.

        But what he really misses is that it is the nature of how automatics operate that encourages more fuel consumption in the first place. It’s no coincidence that Europeans still favor sticks — when your car is small and has a small engine, a manual makes it easier to optimize the torque curve, which makes it easier to live with the smaller motor.

        The automatic transmission culture of the US is going to push us toward favoring larger engines, because the extra power is needed to offset the nature of the transmission. If anything, cheap fuel has probably done more to kill off the stick in the US than anything else. Conversely, if the willingness to row ones gears leads the buyer to a less thirsty engine choice, then that’s good for the environment.

    • 0 avatar

      “There is a lot that is wrong with that argument, but the alleged masculinity of sticks or the lack thereof wasn’t particularly central to the argument that Sinota was making. Taking him out of context is fun, I know, but it’s missing the point.”

      Shhh! You’re making sense. That’s discouraged on TTAC these days.

  • avatar

    Good read! Looking forward to the next one.

  • avatar

    You’re so right on some of the time, Jack!

    I don’t have the luxury of dsriving a 911, but when it came time to buy my wife a “newer” car, we purposly searched out a manual. Why? Becasue, like you stated, that those of us on the lower end of car ownership realize that a FWD automatic transmission (mostly from Mopar) suck big fat hairy balls. They never last much beyond 75K miles and end up costing more than the car is worth to have it replaced.

    Her manual trans PT Cruiser? We’ve had is since 2004 (it’s a 2001 MY) and, aside from other nagging Chrysler issues, it at least is able to run under it’s own power still. That’s what she wanted. She didn’t want to dump another $3000 into a POS used car within a couple of years.

    She drives this car every day. It’s hers. It always was hers since the day I got it for her birthday. She loves and gets mad when I talk about getting her something newer again. What is she looking at possibly getting used in a few years? An Abarth 6-speed! What did she own before her PT? A 5-speed Wrangler and before that, a 5-speed Escort GT. She’s not into racing and honestly doesn’t give a shit about cars as much as I do, but she drives a stick because it’s “more fun” and “won’t break like an automatic”. Her words and I love her for them :)

  • avatar

    Oh please, can we just STFU about manuals for once? A woman who can drive stick doesn’t turn me on anymore than a woman who can iron my shirts does. Sex appeal for me (and most men I presume) is in the visual and physical. Meanwhile I mention to my significant other that I’d like the Titanium Focus when it’s available with a stick and she says “why the hell would you want that?” True, manuals suck in traffic, so I mention I’d keep my other car. Next response, “why do you need 2 cars? Sell one and lets go on a nice vacation.” This is a common mindset for women, and quite frankly, I’m ok with it.

    • 0 avatar

      You are correct, MOST women think exactly that way. Which is why the ones that DONT think that way are sexier, at least to many of us car guys. My wife cannot iron, but she insists on a stick shift, which I love about her. Dont take it out on us because you settled! :)

      Although you are correct, that visual and phsyical come first. Driving stick is definitely 3rd. No, wait, brains is 3rd, then stick. No, scratch that… after brains its kinkiness. THEN stick, for sure.

  • avatar

    I know I late to the party, but I wanted to chime in anyway. I think being able to drive a stick shift is manly, it is something all guys should know how to do or they should surrender thier man card immediately. If I find out a guy cant drive one, then I natually assume he is a complete pu$$y and I lose all respect for him.

    That being said… girls who drive sticks are cool. Girls who drive them well are hot. Girls who prefer a stick over an auto are hotter. Sure, there are hot girls who cant drive a stick and dont want to learn. I would do them, but I wouldnt marry one.

    • 0 avatar

      And girls who can heel-toe wearing heels… wow! :)

      When I was learning stick, my instructor explained it was the manly thing to do. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong and everything right when a woman can drive stick.

      Just wanted to add that manuals, in addition to being more reliable and less expensive than automatics, are lighter. And any acceleration is very very intended!

  • avatar

    No rant needed. Salon is junk – don’t waste your time.

    “with the exception of the occasional well-autocrossed Honda S2000, manual transmissions in small cars are durable where automatics often aren’t.”

    I don’t get this point – they have pretty weak diffs if you make a habit of dropping the clutch at a point where the tires won’t break loose, but the transmissions are as bulletproof as any other Honda. You can find several examples with 200k+ miles on the original drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Believe me, I know about the diffs because the team I drove for last year had gotten to the point where they could swap ’em without taking the car off the trailer.

      Second gear on the S2K is fragile. I’m not sure why because the same transmission is bulletproof in the RX-8.

  • avatar
    Dr. Claw

    Jack’s closing sentence just made me laugh out loud.

    I’ve no dog in the fight (I’d have a manual, maybe, if I could find a good example of it in my preferred car, the Volvo station wagon on the road) — but this was just hilarious.

    A shame, because I like some of Sirota’s other work.

  • avatar

    It is something which transcends gender perfectly.

    In fact, I remember once with my ex girlfriend discussing buying a new car, and she told me that if it was automatic she’d refuse to drive it.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler is ordered (Unlimited Sahara). As a manual. My male colleagues are all secretly thinking it is going to be a lot of fun to watch me fail. I’m secretly thinking how fun it will be to show them I’m more than a citified chick lawyer.

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