By on October 10, 2016

Ferrari shifter (Christian Junger/Flickr)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ferrari has officially added its name to the list of automakers that will no longer offer a manual transmission.

The company’s chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters, explained the decision at the Paris Auto Show last week, citing performance and technology as the motivating factors.

Goodbye, gate.

“Ferrari is design, performance, and state of the art technologies,” Leiters said. “There’s no manual transmission that can beat this performance and therefore we have decided to stay on the double-clutch gearbox.”

Ferrari isn’t the first company to move onto dual-clutch only setups and it won’t be the last. Many performance-minded brands have turned their back on offering anything with a clutch pedal in favor of quicker-shifting semi-automatic gearboxes. The only notable exception is Porsche, which claims it will continue producing some 911s with a manual transmission so long as there is a market for it. Whether there will continue to be a large enough draw to make it a profitable endeavor is another story.

Despite being famous for their gorgeous gated gear selectors, Ferrari has steadily decreased production of traditional manuals since they introduced paddle shifters on the 1997 F355. The company’s California was the final vehicle to offer a manual transmission — available only by special order — resulting in extremely limited numbers. And all-new California Ts persist with the 7-speed dual-clutch as the only option.

[Source: Motor Authority] [Image: Christian Junker/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)]

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97 Comments on “Ferrari Officially Abandons the Manual Gearbox...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Are you the new Steph, by the way? I’m suspicious now.

  • avatar

    As the former owner of a classic 1970 365 GT 2+2, this is sad news.

    The difference between 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds instead of 4.1 seconds or a 2 second advantage in a 3 minute lap time on a track does NOT justify the loss of satisfaction in driving a high performance car well and smoothly.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Passing on the two seat version for $12k in 1981 is one of the mistakes of my life. He did, however, swap cars for the week, why I will never know. He got a 1981 Coupe deVille.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Why can’t the shaft sticking up in the picture just do what the steering wheel paddles do? They make electrical contact and cause the transmission to shift.

    A clutch pedal uses electric motors or hydraulics to simulate the action of a clutch pedal by controlling the clutches in the transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      That would be perceived as silly. Part of the emotional appeal of a stick is when there’s a performance advantage. Just doing it for no good reason at all would be like putting a manual spark advance on the steering wheel to make driving more of challenge.

      My BIL is in the market for a super sportscar, and I don’t know how he will feel about being limited to automatic. He’s had several smaller sportscars, always with stick, and definitely enjoys the interaction. If just dumping it into Drive is the smart play, maybe he’d get more of a cruiser convertible than a true sportscar.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I don’t like agreeing with you, but it is true. It’s becoming redundant. The computer can do it better.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          With the advent of IWD (independent wheel drive – a motor at each wheel) and the torque vectoring that comes with it, there’s no way a human could manually control it while it’s being driven. I think we’ll see it showing up in every supercar soon.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD2Do1gAuog

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          The computer can steer and brake for you too and probably better than a lot of people.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      For what it’s worth I for one agree with you. I know it’s silly, but I would be much more willing to accept a shiftable automatic if it had an H-gate pattern instead of just up-and-down sequential. Whenever I had them in rentals, I never could get used to the things.

      • 0 avatar
        voncabbage

        volkswagen had what they called the “automatic stick shift” available on the beetle during the 70’s. you shifted exactly as you would with a manual transmission through an “H gate”, except there was no clutch pedal. i LOVED it!

  • avatar
    kwong

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, but wouldn’t such a move boost the resale value of a gated manual Ferrari? They are creating more scarcity and many enthusiasts prefer manuals for the connected driving experience compared to the technologically (yet questionably reliable) advanced auto-shifters. This might have created a price-floor for used manual Ferraris. Maybe I should buy one, but I need a Ferrari mechanic friend first.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    To my knowledge, the brand has not offered a manual transmission in some time…to the point that Buick, wth the Verano Turbo and Regal GS, had more manual transmissions than did Ferrari.

    Are you saying that they *have* been offering a manual all this time and just quit…or are you saying that they had stopped producing manual transmissions and are now *officially* saying they’ll never start again?

    Either way, it’s sad because one thing manual transmissions do is alleviate the risk associated with owning an exotic car that’s ten years old or older. It’s not as if these new semi-auto transmissions keep you from having to change clutches and stuff; they still have clutches. It’s actually to the point that manual-transmission Gallardos and other similar manual-transmission exotics from that era are starting to see an increase in value on the used market versus their semi-auto counterparts. Partially because they’re gone forever, and partially because they’re less of a crap-shoot.

  • avatar

    For that much money, the stitching should be straight and the leather shouldn’t be bunched up.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Italian soul and passion to not extend to build quality!

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Have you seen overviews of the 360 on YouTube? “Yeah, the leather pulls off the dashboard after a year, but you can fix that. And the window buttons are made of something that gets sticky and comes off. You’ll also want to wash it by hand because water pours in through the windows even when they’re shut. Aside from that there’s just some little stuff.”

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        But, but, but “heritage” and “passion” and “legacy”!

        Were I not making used-Civic coupe money, I’d sacrifice a little “passion” and get an NSX.

      • 0 avatar

        At the preview to the Sotheby’s auction at the St. John’s concours, I had a chance to talk to James Glickenhaus while he was looking at a Testarossa in the auction. I told him about my experience with the 675LT McLaren and that I thought it could be daily driven.

        “Oh, I’ve daily driven one of these.”

        “How much of it broke?”

        “Every fu<king part. Even the frame broke."

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Like anyone’s going to be scrutinizing the console stitching given who they’ve been able to lure into the passenger seat o_O

      • 0 avatar

        Are you saying that people with status and wealth have an easier time finding willing social companions? Who do you think you are, Donald Trump?

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …from my experiences driving exotic cars, they tend to attract fellow gearheads into the passenger seat rather than amorous companions: we’d both be busy oggling the console stitching, not each other…

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          No better definition of a “car guy”. I would *never* invite a d1ck into my dream car/truck.

          This is why I find the more extreme of you hugely suspect in the orientation department.

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            No he’s right, I own a Challenger and a Yamaha sportbike, not exactly exotics but they stand out, girls give 0 shits about either of them, but I get lots of waves from other bikers (including Santa Claus looking guys on Harley’s), Chally drivers, and children.

            ¯_(ツ)_/¯

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          I have had far more girls ask for a ride in the Cobra replica than guys. By a wide margin no less. I have to keep a hair tie on the shifter so they don’t have to spend 20 minutes getting the tangles back out.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          There was some “car guy youtube channel” discussing “which engine was better” and had a criteria called “chicks dig it”.

          Since they were discussing American V-8s, the guys were middle aged and “chicks dig it” really meant “wife acceptance factor”. Still didn’t make a difference between the two.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Meanwhile, the 911 R and Cayman GT4–both manual transmission only–are the ones catching all the interest in the Porsche lineup.

    Not mentioned in the article, the ever-increasing government pollution and efficiency demands are also hurting manual transmissions. It’s easier to optimize for the government requirements when the computer is in charge of shifting.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      It’s not just pollution and efficiency demands, but interaction with safety tech like automatic braking, which I believe is easier to manage with an automatic. Automatic braking can work with a manual, but I doubt many manufacturers will make the investment (though I believe BMW has). For example, Subaru’s EyeSight package is available on the WRX only with the CVT — and that car probably has one of the highest manual take rates in the biz.

      I’m a hard-core stick enthusiast, but I don’t expect them to be around much longer.

  • avatar
    facelvega

    You can get a Bristol Bullet with a manual, a rarity for Bristol in its 70 years, and next to a Bullet, any current Ferrari would look like a Celica. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    On a practical level, rarely do luxury car buyers and true enthusiasts intersect in the showroom. It’s bad business to stock product your enormously wealthy, mega-egotistical* customer base can’t operate.

    Besides, most of those cars are going to either display garage or the nearest high end restaurant. You don’t need a manual trans to set lap records at the local Chez Lounge.

    *naturally , I’m not referring to every specific Ferrari owner.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Well said. Ferrari just realized that the kind of person who buys their ‘sports’ cars doesn’t give a rat’s posterior about the sports car driving experience. This is a good business decision for Ferrari.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I’m a bit more surprised that Porsche seemed to admit it earlier (or maybe simply developing manuals for limited runs was too expensive. I wonder when the last manual Porsche will ship).

  • avatar
    threeer

    It won’t affect 99.999% of current Ferrari buyers who are likely not overly worried about the driving “experience.” Still, sad to see that iconic gate go the way of the dodo. One more (small) nail in the coffin of driver-controlled cars as the march to automation moves on.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    They came for the manual transmissions in the midsize family cars and I said nothing, for I did not own a midsize family car.

    They came for the manual transmissions in the 1/2 ton pickup trucks and I said nothing, for I was not in the market for a truck.

    They came for the manual transmissions in the sports/exotic cars and I found there was no one left to speak for me.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Well, for what I was going to spend on my next new Ferrari, I could buy ten Ford Focus STs. I think I’ll stock up.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    The marketplace has spoken.

    Having driven a 911 GT3 on the race track, I can see why you’d want a dual clutch, things move fast enough to where shifting would be a distraction. Of course if you’re just noodling along some backroad, the three pedal setup would be fine.

    I’ve wanted a Cayman since they came out. If I were to get one, I’d go PDK. Manual transmissions shift too slowly.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      You driving your auto Porsche around a track, is undoubtedly a much more involving driving experience, than the noodling around that Fangio engaged in, back before transmissions shifted quickly enough to make driving an exciting pastime……

      :)

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Meh… if lap times are your thing. I quite enjoyed my time shifting through the gears at the event I attended.

      Then again I’m one of those weirdos that absolutely enjoys that moment when everything comes together in a shift in the right place at the right time no matter the venue be it drag racing, on the road course or even on the open road.

      Just really good fun.

  • avatar
    jonsey

    The “automatic is faster around a track so we don’t make a manual” argument doesn’t make sense to me.

    In ten years, when an autonomous car can negotiate a track faster than a human, will they remove the steering wheel?

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Well there goes my Ferrari buying plan! ;)

    I get much joy out of driving my 6-speed MY09 Clubman S. And it also makes me pay attention a lot more. When I briefly had an automatic I noticed I wasn’t driving as well since it’s easier for me to mentally goof off.

  • avatar
    brn

    Great! Now maybe those that bitch about the lack of a manual in sport versions of the Fusion and Camry can get over the family sedan market and refocus their futile comments toward Ferrari.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Unless someone replaces the gearboxes in F40’s , and the F40’s suddenly depreciate so much that I can afford them, I don’t really see how this is a problem…

  • avatar

    I specifically sought out a car with a manual transmission and when I wrecked it I traveled to Oklahoma to find another. That being said, I wonder why we still use the century old sliding gear transmission. Yes, the snick, snack is rewarding and is subjectively more engaging but I have no doubt that ZF knows more about shifting transmission gears than I do. The sequential dual clutch transmission in the McLaren can execute shifts many times faster, and smoother, than I can. There is a reason why F1 cars don’t have manual gearboxes.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Actually the gears don’t slide nowadays, the synchronizer sleeves do.
      I think the last sliding gears in pass car units went away four decades ago.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, a fellow pedant! Even so, the “modern” syncromesh transmission is more than a half century old. When I’m driving my Fit I compare how modern everything is with the exception of the clutch and gear shift. I love a well executed shift and trying to drive smoothly with a clutch but it still seems anachronistic to me.

        • 0 avatar
          PCP

          There’s a very simple reason to that – it just works. Today, tomorrow and way after that. DC systems might be a tad faster on the track, but they are heavier, more complicated and more prone to fail. And even if they don’t fail, they’ll be in your way if something else fails. No battery? Put your manual in second gear on a slight hill, drop the clutch and drive away. Your car is really broken? Put it in neutral and tow it away. My daily driver has a 6 gear manual, 170k on its first clutch and runs like on the first day. As long as I can find them, my cars will be manuals (and with a timing chain).

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Exactly. The gears are in constant mesh. It always makes me chuckle when someone thinks they are “grinding their gears” on a missed shift.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I always find that a poor argument for robo-manuals. In racing every second counts so an automated gearbox makes sense. It does in any racing endeavor where you earn a paycheck based on whether your on the podium or not so a DCT and the like is just a natural evolution in a competitive racing environment (provided the ruling organization allows them).

      In non competitive driving it doesn’t really hold water except for the crowd that just goes in for the numbers and by extension those people who like to focus purely on precision driving.

      For myself I’d gladly trade some of that precision for the added complexity of having to manually shift a transmission. The few seconds saved just doesn’t offset the enjoyment I get from getting everything right in the right place at the right time.

      No matter the venue (especially in drag racing where a poorly executed shift absolutely kills your performance) I just get a better sense of accomplishment with a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      In three weeks and 2800 miles, I’ve determined my new Fit manual is not going to be a pussy magnet.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The only way for Ferrari to offer manuals again is if their new car customers demand it.

    So this bit of news is somewhat redundant, especially considering that they haven’t produced a manual box since around 2011.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I always wanted to work one of those gated shifters.

    It seems like though every car magazine criticized it for form over function.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      The gate was truly Italian style in action. Definitely a distinctive trait.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The gate on these cars is very much for function. The way the shifters are designed, you would be able to select two gears at once if you shifted diagonally, and bad things would happen. This isn’t someone sticking it on their Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I remember a guy letting me operate his RC truck when I was a little kid (1/8th or 1/10th scale, maybe). 6 channel radio with left stick handling throttle and steering while the right stick had a custom-milled shift gate on it. I’m not kidding, dude had installed a manual transmission actuated with 2 servos. The 5th channel was a servo controlling the low/high range.

      He’d stick it in low and hand it to us. It was fast, even in low (I was used to a Tamiya Grasshopper with 5s NiCd so almost everything felt fast), and he let us bash the hell out of it, saying, “The frame is welded angle iron and the only really valuable part is the gearbox.”

      There were a lot of fights over who got to drive it next.

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    “Because track day, bro!”

    -Michael Hugo Leiters

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I would rather have a dual clutch for track use, especially on one of those Hermann Tilke – inspired country club circuits. Most of us won’t spend that many days on the track and can’t risk missing a shift and either blowing the engine sky high or locking the drive wheels and backing into the barrier.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Bunch of pansy-ass accountants running that company. I wonder how much horsepower Enzo is putting out spinning in his grave like this?

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I feel like this is when Apple ditched the floppy drive on the iMac… A lot of people up in arms except the people that actually mattered: buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      I worked on lots of computers back then. People used Macs for graphics intensive work, video editing, and music production. All purposes for which the 1.44 MB floppies were too small. (Anyone remember Zip drives? Jazz drives?) The disks themselves broke frequently. I cannot tell you how many of the little sliders from floppies I have removed from drives over the years.

      Programs required up to 24 separate disks to install on your machine.

      *Everybody* on the Mac side and PC side wanted a better method of transporting data from one machine to another. I never heard anyone complain about the death of the floppy drive on Macs.

      The market of people trying to do productive things with a piece of technology is a tad different than the market of people buying a recreational device.

      Nintendo is about to release a little computer that looks like an original NES and is filled with a bunch of games with, by today’s standards, terrible graphics and music. They’re going to sell boat loads of them. And on Christmas day this year there will be millions of adults and children playing Punch Out and Double Dragon. Because even now there’s something satisfying about punching King Hippo in the mouth and watching his pants drop.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    Track times are largely irrelevant. Most of the cars will never see a track. Just like most dive-rated watches will never see water deeper than the family pool.

    Speaking of watches, mechanical watches are still a thing. People spend ridiculous amounts of money on them despite the fact that you can get relatively inexpensive quartz watches that will keep precise time for decades without needing any of the TLC that the mechanical watches require to stay in working order. People often discuss how little time these watches lose, but ultimately that is not the deciding factor.

    A good manual shift is certainly not going to be as fast around the track in most people’s hands…but that’s largely irrelevant as most people won’t use the car that way. A good manual shift is a *lot* more fun on a good drive than any paddle shifter. Indeed, the very presence of a good manual can turn an ordinary drive into an enjoyable one.

    I don’t care about lap times. It’s the experience. Working through a nice gated manual shifter is an extremely pleasant and rewarding experience. This is why the classics will hold a decent level of value even when various bubbles burst and the massive amounts of money chasing cars stops.

    If we drew a Venn diagram of Ferrari customers and expensive mechanical watch owners, I’d dare say the Ferrari circle would exist almost entirely inside the watch circle. Manuals won’t sell because they’re old and outdated…to a group of people who are wearing watches that function on old and outdated principles. People who paid handsomely for that extra complication and inconvenience because of what it represents or what it says about them.

    I’d argue the manual’s fate is more in the hands of the people who don’t want to make them anymore (for whatever reason) moreso than the preferences of the market. The market’s preferences are pretty malleable.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      Mechanical watches are beautiful objects and indicators of wealth, but they don’t require any personal skill, nor much effort, to use every day. The maintenance is performed by someone else. A stickshift car requires skillful use, and sucks in stopped traffic. Also, other household members must enjoy the stick to enjoy driving the car.

      Collector cars usually put a premium on sticks, but they also usually put a premium on convertible tops, even though most new buyers have preferred closed cars for almost 100 years. Different market than new cars.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    Nouveau-riche, ignorant consumers are just lazy .. , that’s why they want their cars to be less engaging ..

    .. Pony cars should have gated gear selectors , instead of this “flabby leather on the stick” ..

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