By on October 4, 2017

2011-audi-r8-42-spyder-shifter-photo-416617-s-1280x782Yesterday, Steph Willems penned a little Question of the Day about the manual transmission. In it, he asked what would have to occur to get you, the buying public, back into the manual transmission in a large-scale way.

As of this writing, it’s blowing up the comment counts as everyone lists the particulars of how they hem and haw over the manual transmission. Shifting a vehicle yourself is romanticized and desirable; a bygone art to be treasured and maintained for future generations of drivers.

Except when it isn’t. What would force you from a manual transmission vehicle for the rest of your days?

There are many arguments against the manual transmission; some legitimate, others petty. Commuting with a manual transmission is a hassle — modern congested roads make constant up-down shifting a chore. Modern automatics are efficient and have enough gears and programming to make the most of a powerful engine. This just wasn’t true in ye olde days of motoring.

On the other hand, some of you who deeply desire a manual transmission say a lack of this or that option is enough to make an “enthusiast” a turncoat.

“Why, if they offered ventilated seats or the larger screen in the manual trim, I’d be on board!” But the seats are only heated, and the screen is just six inches instead of eight, so you will not be a customer. I think there are greater forces at work though, forces which will push everyone from the manual transmission once and for all.

Tesla Model 3, Image: TeslaAnd here is the greater force. Lurking inside the Tesla pictured above is the company’s much-praised-sometimes-maligned Autopilot system. Tesla has been at the forefront of whiz-bang autonomous driving technology and continues to lead the way. Other manufacturers are catching up, slowly and surely implementing their own partially autonomous systems. Closer and closer we edge toward fully-autonomous vehicles.

This is a delight to the i-Consumer, the type of person who desires a cloud-based app life devoid of personal interaction or intervention. Lawmakers will see safety gains from autonomous driving and champion the predicted reduction in driving fatalities. Interest groups take notice and call for new regulations, and said lawmakers will happily concede for the greater good. Insurance companies will be on board too, as the dwindling number of human-driven vehicles will ease healthcare insurance costs and reduce automotive property damage.

Imagine the incentives Progressive will make available if their Snapshot system can tap right into the percentage of time you use autonomous capabilities in your car. Eventually there’s a tipping point — consumer car insurance becomes based on the “norm” of the autonomous driver, and the self-driven vehicle is now the dangerous outlier. Then see how affordable it is to drive an Accord of your own accord.

This brings us right back to the manual transmission. Autonomous systems are, by definition, the opposite of the intervention required by the manual transmission. Said manual is already losing the popularity contest, but it will be stripped from the consumer by the manufacturer, the i-Consumer, the interest group, the legislator, and the insurance man — all in the name of autonomy. And the majority will be clapping the whole time.

But maybe I’m wrong. What do you think will finally pry the manual shift lever from your hand?

[Images: Audi, Tesla]

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180 Comments on “QOTD: What Will Force You From a Manual Transmission, Permanently?...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    They would have to stop making them.

    I have three cars, all with manual transmissions. My wife prefers them, and so do I, since it keeps me more focused on driving. Even if I’m stuck in bad traffic, I don’t find the constant clutch ‘n’ stick work _that_ annoying. Add in the hill-hold feature that my Countryman has, along with a good transmission, and driving manual has never been easier.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Or they go retro with column shift like the olden days.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …exactly this, but i suspect that electric drivetrains may prove the inflection point where old-fashioned mechanical gearboxes no longer make sense as part of the system…

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      It’s getting closer, there are fewer manuals in the cars I want and can afford.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        “there are fewer manuals in the cars I want and can afford.”

        Exactly. When I can’t find one, I won’t be buying one.

        I seriously doubt autopilot can safely and efficiently drive a low-slung sporty sedan up a rough, rutted bush road with a full load of camping and biking gear. It would most likely just stop when the road gets bad. Until it can, I have no use for it.

        This also brings up the question: Can you use autopilot if you don’t already KNOW where you are going? A lot of my driving is exploration with no specific destination.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “They would have to stop making them.”

      That is basically why I have a pickup with an automatic. I’m not that fanatical as to go out and buy a Ram Cummins just to row my own.

      Column shift manual?

      How would that work with a 6 speed transmission?

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      Yup, if they become so hard to find, I’ll not be buying them. That’s already the case, as my 05 Optima and 06 Lancer do not have them.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “Even if I’m stuck in bad traffic,”

      Yes, same here. Bad traffic will not deter me. There’s some strategy involved, and some cars, notably the Mazda3, are brilliant crawling in 1st or 2nd gear. And once in a while, I spot a fellow manual driver because he or she knows how to keep their spacing.

      That said, only when we go all electric, or if I have a bum ankle or knee.

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …i play a game in heavy traffic where if i brake, i lose, so i’m always reading the flow of traffic well ahead of the stop-and-go cars immediately around me, to keep moving at a sustainable pace: the third pedal seldom bothers me…

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Where I live, that game starts moving you backwards pretty quickly. People invariably cut you off if you let as little as two full car lengths appear between your bumper and the one in front of you.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            Cars slip in now and then. Think Zen and the art of driving a manual in traffic.

            One strategy is to drive in the left lane where trucks aren’t allowed, and sidle alongside a truck that’s in the middle lane.

            When an entire parade of cars cut through, then it’s time to close the gap. But it doesn’t happen as often as you would think because in NYC traffic, it doesn’t get you very far.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Try that on I-95. They’ll cut in and slam on the brakes to keep from hitting the guy in front of you.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          Ditto. 60k miles on my Mazda3 and no brake job yet. I did, however, have to top off the brake fluid.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          I used to play the game with myself whereby I would minimize the number of times I hit the brake between work and home (25 miles) during rush hour. I got my braking down to 2 times once by keeping my distance and staying in perhaps a gear lower than normal to make use of engine braking. I’d pay attention to the traffic far ahead, keep several car lengths distance and watch for brake lights. When they lit up I’d come off the gas and coast, by the time I’d made it to the snag traffic would be moving again and I didn’t have to stop. Was fun.

          • 0 avatar
            Guitar man

            On a slightly different tack, I think once manufacturers have worked out the algorithms for AMTs, goodbye to manuals.

            The AMT on Isuzu trucks works well ; instead of trying to be smooth like a conventional auto, it works like someone using a manual, fuzzy logic or something.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @tankin…: “When they lit up I’d come off the gas and coast, by the time I’d made it to the snag traffic would be moving again and I didn’t have to stop. Was fun.”

            Bet you got your best gas mileage ever that time, too.

  • avatar
    Meathead

    Physical or mental incapacity would force me from a manual transmission, permanently.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    This is a timely post. Later today I’m selling my 2006 SAAB 9-3 convertible w/ 5-speed to a friend because I bought a new TESLA Model-S last Friday.

    I will miss the SAAB with it’s turbo and 5-speed stick but it’s time to let go and move on.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      The penalty for apostasy is . . .
      ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      I am in the same boat. A car with manual transmission is WAY better than a car with automatic. To the point where I personally would rather drive a Yugo with manual than a Bentley with automatic. However, a car with no transmission is even better. That is why I also drive a Model S and plan to replace my 550i (manual) with another EV at some point in the future. No transmission, no problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Jean-Pierre Sarti

        I must be getting dumber in my old age because I don’t get it, you would rather drive a manual Yugo than an automatic Bentley but an EV is OK? Anyway, all the EVs I know have either 1-2 gear or CVT transmissions…

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          > I must be getting dumber in my old age because I don’t get it, you would rather drive a manual Yugo than an automatic Bentley but an EV is OK?

          You must have never driven an EV. Try it, you will see what I mean.

          > Anyway, all the EVs I know have either 1-2 gear or CVT transmissions…

          No, EVs do not have a transmission. No gears. Immediate throttle response and it is always “in the right gear” — because there are no gears.

          The reason I dislike automatics is because when I press the gas pedal, I want an immediate response that is linear and proportional with the amount of “gas” I give. Automatics are NEVER like that. The response is always delayed, not linear and not proportional. Many times by the time the transmission has reacted and the vehicle is accelerating or descelerating, it is already too late. Manual transmission allows for this kind of perfect control. EVs are even better, with loads of low end torque and even better throttle response.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            I agree with one thing. Something like Tesla is brilliant because it is a computer, battery, electric motor, steering, and suspension. There should be nothing that breaks in this car. Then why it is the least reliable car? In fact, I thought, buying Tesla for $70K worth it. This car **can-scratch** should! last 30 years. So, it is like buying 3 Accords. And all the money you save on maintaining ICE you will spend on battery replacement one day. But one of the problems is that ICE cars can go 0-60 as fast as fuel decreases in the tank. But Tesla will not be as fast when battery charge reduces to half.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Even at half total power, slavuta, the battery shouldn’t affect acceleration significantly. Besides, battery replacement, when it comes, will be around 70% of maximum, not 50%. Currently, Tesla’s batteries should manage in excess of 15 years or 300,000 miles before it gets that low.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Anyway, all the EVs I know have either 1-2 gear or CVT transmissions…”

          Then you don’t know very many EVs. There shouldn’t be a need for ANY transmission on a BEV, much less an energy-wasting CVT, though I could see a 2-speed if you wanted to build a speedster capable of approaching 200mph.

          What you’re calling a “transmission” (one speed) is nothing but a step-down gear to better control the amount of power that reaches the ground. Without that gear, a Tesla (for instance) would be constantly burning rubber on every startup and running that 200mph at full throttle. That step-down gear gives the computer better control of the motor’s overall output for speed and energy control.

          • 0 avatar
            vvk

            > electric motor, steering, and suspension. There
            > should be nothing that breaks in this car. Then
            > why it is the least reliable car? In fact, I

            It is not.

            However, it is not a simple car at all, not in the way that world cars sold in third world countries are simple. Model S/X are full of complicated electronics, similar to premium segment cars they compete against. Maintenance requirements are comparable to ICE cars: collant change every 4 years, brake fluid change every 2 years, annual inspection, transfer unit oil change.

            > thought, buying Tesla for $70K worth it. This car
            > **can-scratch** should! last 30 years. So, it is

            Rated for 500k miles.

            > like buying 3 Accords. And all the money you save
            > on maintaining ICE you will spend on battery
            > replacement one day. But one of the problems is

            Battery degradation should be no problem for the rated life of the car, 500k miles.

            > that ICE cars can go 0-60 as fast as fuel
            > decreases in the tank. But Tesla will not be as
            > fast when battery charge reduces to half.

            I assure you that in normal driving I notice no difference in acceleration between fully charged and depleted. Acceleration is “superior” even with the battery at 5%.

  • avatar
    brakeless

    Like I said in that last thing: chop off one of my legs.
    OR keep making throttle by wire systems that are completely infuriating to use with a manual transmission. If the throttle is doing things that my foot isn’t telling it to do, then it is wrong!
    That won’t make me give up the manual, though. I will just stop buying new cars. Anyway, the best manual driving experience is with a well tuned carburetor.

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    Nothing less than complete and total autonomy.

    Unless I’m in a car I can sleep in, I’m going to be rowing my own.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    In order of likelihood:
    1. Unavailability of a compelling product, perhaps due to the reasons Corey mentions above.
    2. Personal injury / age-related causes.
    3. This one is my favorite: what I would love to happen to “finally pry the manual shift lever from my hand” is that the auto/DCT/whatever tech becomes so much fun to drive that I am ok with giving up the manual.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    The great Satan that is MBAs who know what’s best for me.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I am a proselytizer for manuals. I own a manual. I believe learning how to drive a manual makes someone a better driver. I believe that in non-urban areas, driving a manual is a much more enjoyable experience.

    I also realize that my cause is lost and that autonomous vehicles are the way of the future and that they will probably arrive during our lifetimes.

  • avatar
    NN

    The last internal combustion vehicles will likely be manual transmission sports cars, for the gearheads who like engagement. Otherwise everything else will go electric with autonomous capability.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    Children. Having a manual on a road trip with kids solo is no good. My automatic makes it so much easier. besides with a console shifted manumatic I don’t miss the manual that much.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    First,
    “Commuting with a manual transmission is a hassle — modern congested roads make constant up-down shifting a chore.”

    I keep on hearing this refrain, and I have never found it to be true. I have almost 20 years of owning nothing but manual transmission cars behind me, at this point I notice shifting little more than I notice breathing.

    Now for the actual question at hand. What would force me from a manual transmission?

    The complete and total unavailability of a manual transmission car. And when that dark day finally comes? I don’t know, I guess I could find a new hobby; I have always wanted to try flying. As for regular transportation I guess I will just buy a Mitsubishi Mirage or whatever cheap Chinese/Thai/Whatever car is available. Or just start sharing one car with my wife. Or use Uber if doing so is cheaper than payments/insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I don’t get the link between congestion and manuals either. I can’t recall ever thinking to myself – “this traffic jam would be so much more enjoyable if only I had an automatic transmission”. If anything, it distracts me from going crazy sitting in traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        after a half hour of constantly working the clutch because traffic is moving slower than you can idle in 1st gear, it starts getting old.

        • 0 avatar

          You made that up, clutch working is pure enjoyment.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “clutch working is pure enjoyment.”

            Until you start to smell it!

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            Corey, I don’t know how to directly contact moderators on TTAC so I will just have to post this here and hope you see it.

            The post made by commenter Eyeflyistheeye on October 4th, 2017 at 11:46am in this same thread went well over the line and I would like to flag it.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, it’s been taken care of.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          JimZ,
          Have you ever driven a manual? They are far better than an auto.

          A manual gives you the operator some input into how and when you want a vehicle to respond.

          How many time have you driven an auto and just wanted to pickup a little speed to have the auto not respond unless you tramp it?

          With a manual you know exactly how much response you will get.

          I find manual transmissions a bliss. Traffic with an auto is not the best experience any more than a manual.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            4 of the 8 vehicles I’ve owned in my lifetime have been manual transmission, you pompous @ss. They’re enjoyable when the driving situation allows it, and a pain when it doesn’t.

            and what you find to be “bliss” matters not to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “A manual gives you the operator some input into how and when you want a vehicle to respond.”

            Sounds like a sexual preference as opposed to operating a motor-vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “With a manual you know exactly how much response you will get.”

            —- and with every partial clutch release, you wear the plates just that much sooner, forcing a replacement before absolutely necessary. My late F-i-L spent most of his life as a mechanic and he always complained loudly about how people ride their clutch and burn them out well before necessary. I’ve managed over 130,000 miles on my Vue (before I sold it) and was still on original clutch on my Wrangler when I traded it. The Ranger, I think, is on original plates at 25,000 miles but the hydraulic system for it had to be replaced due to years of neglect and simple non-use. At 18 years old it had only traveled 19,600 miles. I’ve put over 5,000 miles on it since and even that’s low because I don’t drive it when there’s snow on the ground.

            One thing though, when he first drove the Vue after buying it, he was surprised that it was on original plates. He got another 10K miles before it finally started slipping and he sold it himself at 150K miles because he needed 4×4.

        • 0 avatar
          Eyeflyistheeye

          JimZ, I want to give you a hug.

          /mod

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        I’ve managed to live with a manual commuter vehicle and congested roads for 30+ years now. And more recently have been making trips to Manhattan in our 6 speed manual vehicle. Different strokes and tolerance levels and all that, but I’ve found it doable.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Traffic sucks. Traffic that requires you so creep forward between 1st and 2nd gear constantly is suckage to the extreme. My experience is it gets old and tiresome very quickly. Having an automatic doesn’t fix the problem but it makes it more bearable… slightly. And when your getting pissed off anything that improves the situation can be a blessing. Temporary traffic jams are fine, its the daily commute in which the repetitive shifting action turns to torture. For me its the stop-n-go nature of traffic, I don’t mind being in a slow down where everyone is moving at 20 mph. But when people stop then move forward 2 or 3 car lengths its pointless to shift. Granted with a light clutch and smooth action (like my older Hondas) its not too bad, but in my current 350Z with its heavy clutch and notchy action – ummm hell no!

  • avatar
    ash78

    I miss my 5-speed, which I donated about a year and a half ago (after only driving manuals for almost 20 years).

    I don’t hate the Tiptronic I have now — it’s almost as good as these newfangled DSGs. But both types of manumatics are lacking in the aesthetic department. They behave like a committee decided to replicate a manual based on technical specs. And then they wonder why people still want manuals despite (some) automatics being faster and more efficient.

    My answer: Marriage. The fact that my wife (and other friends/family) refused to learn a manual made an auto a foregone conclusion.

    I just wish some of these DCT manufacturers would bring back a rally-style stick shift of some kind (with or without a clutch pedal). I just want something else to do. It’s just too easy to put the car in automatic mode and sit back and be lazy.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      > My answer: Marriage. The fact that my wife (and other friends/family) refused
      > to learn a manual made an auto a foregone conclusion.

      My wife told me she will divorse me if I buy an automatic. She complains every time she has to drive a car with automatic. Also, all my friends (and their wives) drive stick.

      Choose wisely :)

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      The last time I drove a manual was August of 2012. I bought a DSG equipped Sportwagen because my wife wanted to be able to drive my car if she needed to. She’s probably driven it about 5 times since I got it (says it’s too big, “like a spaceship”. Nevermind that she has a Jetta sedan, which is longer than my car!)

      I don’t mind the DSG but it does like to shudder sometimes at low speed despite being updated at one point by the dealer. For my next car, I’m considering a manual Golf or Golf wagon. Otherwise it’ll be a CVT equipped C-Max because there is no manual option for modern hybrids.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    I think I’ll always have a stick of some sort, I enjoy it too much.

    What would force me into an all-automatic category would be losing the ability to house “fun” or project cars. If my garage is gone, and my space is only for one, it’ll probably be a do-all vehicle.

    Until then, I have two sticks and two autos and the sticks are the ones on the safe list.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Serious damage to my left leg (hip, knee, ankle, foot). If my right arm got effed up, I’d pick up some JDM subcompact and roll.

    Now, having said that, I could see getting a full EV as a daily driver since they generally don’t have multi-speed transmissions in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The lack of any transmission, makes the EVs even worse….

      You CAN drive a manual that way too. My late grandfather did after he lost mobility in his right shoulder. Just stuck the lever in third; slipped the clutch to get going and crawl, and sat at redline on the highway.

      Minus the requirement for sufficient control over ones bodily functions to operate a clutch pedal, the above pretty much sums up the Model S driving experience as well.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        > The lack of any transmission, makes the EVs even worse….

        Nonsense.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “The lack of any transmission, makes the EVs even worse….”
          —- Agreed. Nonsense! I did know a man who drove an RX(I think it was a 3) in second gear around DC without issue but he still had to use the clutch and was very confident the rotary engine could handle the revs.

          On the BEV’s side, an electric motor will go as fast as power and load will let it go–until it comes apart either due to overspeed or bearings. Nice thing is that you only need one foot to drive it and you don’t even have to move your foot from gas to brake under ordinary driving.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    Currently driving a ’14 Mustang GT with AT. Previous to that I had a 6 speed SVT Cobra and a 5 speed Colorado. Love rowing my own, but the combination of daily stop/start traffic and arthritic knees have forced the change. I know I’m a wimp…….

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m not huge into manual transmission in the first place, but I’ll spend a lot to stay out of a full-time AV.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Old age, or the lack of desirable* vehicles, whichever comes first. I foresee it being the latter, sadly.

    *has engine choices and convenience features that suit my tastes

  • avatar
    TNJed

    A complete lack of choice would force the decision for me. Right now, even though the options are dwindling, there are still a good number of selections if you want to stick with a manual. If it gets to the point where the only choices are 2 seaters or complete strippers ([email protected]%%$^!! 2018 Kia Rio), then I guess I would relent.

  • avatar

    The only thing that would force me into an automatic is the physical inability to drive a 3 pedal vehicle. I LIKE the process of driving my manual transmission Fiesta ST – and I am 73 years old. My wife at age 78 would still be driving a manual transmission BMW 3 Series – except for a knee problem that makes it too uncomfortable.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Market forces will eventually prevent me from buying a new manual equipped vehicle, likely before my baby son is able to drive. They will disappear from trucks first, then economy cars, then sports sedans, then pony cars and Corvettes, then finally the Miata. It just isn’t practical or useful to have a stick shift attached to an electric motor, and that’s the way the world is going, whether autonomous or not. As more and more categories of vehicles lose the option, I’ll simply be forced into buying an automatic.

    As for what will keep me personally from driving manual equipped cars, I intend to keep both my Viper and SS sedan forever as the “last of their kind”. Only a total loss accident, unsolvable mechanical issues, or financial calamity forcing me to sell them would keep me from driving 3 pedal cars well into the future.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    When my clutch throwout bearing, aka left knee, goes.
    At my age (60), I’m doing OK for now, but it’ll happen eventually.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Some sort of financial or physical tragedy that means I can no longer keep a third fun manual sports car in the garage. I’ve given up driving stick for my daily, but I will, deity-willing, always have a third fun car and it will most likely always be a stick.

  • avatar
    MBella

    As others have said, lack of availability. I would have bought a manual Silverado, if it was available, but it is not. The autos have also come a long way. Many of the advantages of the manual are no longer there. The only real thing left is reliability, and even that has improved. I’ll hopefully have a manual sports car like my Miata for the rest of my life but who knows? I doubt the next generation will have a manual option. Everything is becoming a conventional Auto or a dual clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I can’t imagine the Miata leaving the manual behind. At least not before it, too becomes a CUV. Which just may happen, once the last Japanese finally succumbs to old age, and “Miata” becomes just another “legacy brand” to hawk alongside handbags and cafe au cheese to mixed gender “brand managers” in hipster jeans.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I hope you’re right, but you have to figure that they do a new one about once per ten years. That would bring the changeover right around 2025-2026. They will say something about a DSG being better, faster, more fuel efficient, etc… and I think that’ll be the end. This of course assumes that there will be another Miata. The way sports car sales are going, I’m not so sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      MBella,
      Some vehicles don’t deserve a manual. I think most commercial vehicles do along with cars that can handle.

      If a vehicle offers communication between the wheel, throttle, brakes it needs a manual to make it great.

      Spongy suspended SUVs, CUVs, large cars, etc should only come with autos to suit the vehicles personality.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    That legendary R8 shifter gate is really both the pinnacle and the last gasp of this great transmission.

    That being said the Manual Transmission is very healthy among enthusiasts and can command a 30-50% premium over a comparable automatic. They simply don’t care about an automatic M3 or S4.

    The electric motor is the obvious Trojan horse which will compete the siege of the manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    When will I stop driving a stick? That really depends. Many of the arguments about how the manual was more efficient have been eliminated; automatics are as good if not better on the efficiency standpoint now since they can shift faster and the torque converter locks up more quickly–more like a clutch than a hydraulic drive–to give manual-level performance from what used to be very sloppy “slushboxes.” Automatics also have the advantage when towing because they don’t rely on friction plates to get the load moving, meaning much less risk of burning plates and losing the transmission on a hill. All that’s required is a separate radiator for that transmission to cool the fluid when under load.

    So the biggest advantage of a manual today is its ‘fun factor’, one reason why I’ve owned sticks for the last 15 years while I’ve been able to afford to get what I want, rather than what’s simply ‘available.’ However, even that advantage is going away with some vehicles. Many now offer automatics with a ‘manual shift’ option either through paddles mounted on the wheel or, what is more fun to me, a simple shift-lever option to allow up and down shifting with a +/- quadrant slightly offset from the main shifter mode. It means you can sport around a bit on track day with a feeling that you’re really controlling the shift points (plus or minus a half-second or so) while enjoying a fully automatic transmission when such ‘rowing’ might become a pain.

    In my own case, I’m strongly considering this for my next vehicle, be it pickup truck or other type. Why? Because there are times with a 5- or 6-speed transmission when low simply isn’t low enough and the pedals are too tight for proper heel-toe operation of brake and gas. Additionally, as I get older my joints just aren’t as flexible as they used to be, meaning doing the heel/toe is much more difficult for me. (60s cars offered a lot more legroom and hip-room to swivel your ankle to make that move.) Additionally, my wife is very uncomfortable even trying to drive my Ranger because of how tight the cab is for her. She’d drive the Wrangler once in a while, but even then always felt uncertain about when to shift and which way to move the shifter (oh, she knew the pattern well, but co-ordinating both feet and the shifter always made her uncomfortable since she’d only driven automatics before that.) So, as a second vehicle my Ranger with stick works, but if her car breaks I’ll be stuck with driving her everywhere until she gets it back. At least with a “Select-Shift”, I can have my automatic and my manual too.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      If the automatic transmission requires it’s own cooler, somewhere in the transmission heat is being generated which means lack of efficiency.
      Autos give better MPG numbers in the tests because they are programed to do that over everything else.
      Go to the EPA’s website and you will find that manuals almost always give better MPG in the real-world feedback section contrary to the posted numbers.
      When autos no longer need coolers is when I will believe they are more efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Possibly, AL. Then again, possibly not. Newer automatics are notably more efficient than older ones due to the lock-up torque converters and new transmission designs that allow multiple power paths, making shifting quicker even that the quickest manual. Even race cars are going to automatics… or what they call Dual Clutch, which basically has the car switch back and forth between two gear sets so quickly that the human foot simply can’t operate a mechanical clutch to match it. The clutches are basically dog-tooth gears that lock into place with next to no slip allowed when shifting. The torque converter any more is only to allow for slip when sitting at idle and until the drivetrain can get up to a lock-up speed. the 9-speed tranny in my Jeep is the quickest-shifting automatic I’ve ever had and I certainly can’t get similar performance out of the 5-speed stick in my Ranger. The difference in economy between stick and automatic is roughly 1mph–less than 2.5% difference–in city traffic. Meanwhile, I average anywhere from 20%-25% better gas mileage overall simply by driving more reasonably.

        Again, a stick is fun but the difference in economy doesn’t warrant the higher price manuals now carry compared to automatics (about $1K-$2K more, depending on model.) Note also that even purpose-built off-road cars (i.e. Jeep, Ford Raptor, etc.) are automatic-heavy because you can maintain torque on the wheels even at very low speeds where a manual would be needing to slip the clutch. Manuals are basically stop or go, with almost no ability for slip when it’s most needed. And a manual WILL stall the engine if you get rolling too slowly for the gear you’re in.

        BTW, electric motors simply don’t need a transmission because you don’t need to rev it up before engaging the gears; it’s made to create maximum torque at minimum revs. That’s why railroads have abandoned mechanically-driven power units (locomotives) for almost all purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Explain to me how any auto besides a belt drive CVT doesn’t use friction plates.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        CVT even uses friction plates. I would expect that even the CVT uses either a torque converter or some other means to permit the engine to spin while the transmission is at full stop. A torque converter uses hydraulic fluid with only a marginal gap between vane sets to allow slip only at low speed differentials. Prior to the lock-up types, there was always some slip between the flywheel side and the gearing side of the torque converter, which is why automatic fuel economy was always lower both in-town and on the highway. Over time, that lock-up speed went from speed related (around 50-60mph to something more related to engine demand–possibly vacuum driven based on engine load or later more electronic means. Even in the ’90s you could sometimes feel when the torque converter locked. Now you don’t because they lock almost as soon as the engine can meet the transmissions minimum rotational speeds–around 700-750 rpm (+/-)–to avoid stalling the engine. Of course, bigger, high-torque engines would probably see their torque converter lock at lower revs since they can offer more torque than a smaller engine (not counting turbo-charged.)

        Even so, adding gears to the automatic has seen smaller engines perform as well as older, larger engines as the torque demand for acceleration is cut with each additional gear. First gear in the old 3-speed automatics was like 2nd gear in the 6-speeds and 3rd-gear in an 8- or 9-speed automatic. 100 horses can accelerate 2x-3x more quickly in the same weight car than it could 30 years ago with a 3-speed tranny. Yes, the newer engines do produce more power but they’re still weaker than may be desired without the extra gearing on the low end, particularly.

  • avatar
    tommytipover

    Lack of availability will probably do it, but the manufacturers seem to be conspiring against us with the interface as well. Clutch feel and shifter feel are going down the tubes, and electronic TB with their weird tip in and strange rev hangs take a lot of joy out of the row your own experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Clutch feel and shifter feel are going down the tubes, and electronic TB with their weird tip in and strange rev hangs take a lot of joy out of the row your own experience.”

      I can’t speak to the clutch feel, as different cars will feel differently. My ’08 Jeep Wrangler had a much stronger spring than either my ’02 Saturn Vue or my ’97 Ford Ranger. But none of them had gated shifters and ‘rowing’ through the gears in that Wrangler wasn’t that different from the Ranger while the Vue was tight and you always knew which gear you were going into (though I kept wanting to find a 6th gear in it.) I haven’t driven any newer sticks than that ’08 Jeep. The Ranger’s a bit weaker than the Vue (112hp vs 146hp) but even with the Ranger I sometimes wish for another gear on the highway.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    All the automatics become column shifted and all the front seats become bench. ;-)

    But seriously – probably the electric car. I see little point in a manual transmission in a purely electric car.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      PrincipalDan,
      I do think EVs will not take over for decades and we will have some manuals around. Whilst there are countries that are in a more economic challenging position than us, there will be ICE manuals.

      I’m hoping anyways.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I do all my own wrenching and the idea of opening up an auto is horrifying vs a manual.
    Add that to being engaged and better efficiency (autos game the tests to make them look better) will keep me with 3 pedals until I go electric and can drive using only 1 pedal except for emergency stops.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think you’re overstating things here, Corey.

    You assume autonomous vehicles will (largely) replace driver-controlled ones. That assumes that the minute these vehicles become available, everyone will want one. That’s a pretty big assumption to make, if you ask me. It’s a huge leap from “I like an automatic transmission” to “hey, I’m ready for the car to drive itself.”

    A) I don’t think the technology is mature enough yet.
    B) More importantly, I don’t think most consumers think the technology is mature enough yet.
    C) This technology costs money. Yes, the cost will come down as it becomes more commonplace, but it can’t help but drive the cost of vehicles up. This may not matter on pricier vehicles, but it sure will on less expensive ones. And less expensive cars tend to be more likely to have a manual, which makes sense…a manual costs less to buy, and saves fuel. Those are attributes that appeal to buyers in this segment.
    D) The segment of the market that values performance will NOT go for autonomous vehicles. Not one bit. And the manufacturers won’t either. This segment of the market is smaller, but it’s very significant. To wit: suggest to GM that it has to give up on the Corvette…because Google Bubble Car. Not happening.
    E) I’m sure the insurance companies would love it if we all drove autonomous cars. But would that inevitably drive up premiums for cars that don’t drive themselves? Meh…I’m no expert on the insurance biz, but I can’t see it happening.

    There’s always going to be a market for cars that don’t drive themselves. And as long as that market exists, manuals will as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Well finally someone has a problem with my argument! :)

      -My premise was sort of a culmination, way down the road. Over time, eventually the manual goes away entirely, as the autonomous car becomes (basically) the law. This will of course take decades, but eventually there will be an autonomous consumer Mirage Pod XL, even for the less well-heeled.

      -The insurance thing will happen, once the human driven car is no longer the norm. There is no incentive for the insurance company to cut you a break on rates when you’re an outlier – a dangerous manual driver in a sea of conforming autonomous drivers. The accident assumptions would eventually become based on the autonomous. A man driving on the roads in his old Corvette is a terrible risk compared to everyone else in that scenario. Boom, huge premiums.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Will fully autonomous cars eventually become a popular choice? Yes.

        Will they become “law” or the default choice? I sincerely doubt it. I don’t think drivers are, or ever will be, completely comfortable with giving up controlling their cars.

        What I could see happening is driver controlled cars with autonomous capabilities becoming a lot more popular. That way, you could “go autonomous” on your morning freeway commute, or a 500-mile I-70 slog across Kansas, and do “manual override” in those situations when you’re in a situation where you don’t feel comfortable turning over your life to HAL 9000.

        Either way, as long as driver-controlled cars exist, and as long as a sizable chunk of them are performance-oriented, manuals will exist too.

        • 0 avatar

          I think much of it depends on two or three future variables:

          Fuel costs
          Insurance on manual driven cars
          Governement pressures toward safety (determined via adminstration)

          With the future uptick in “wearables” for your car, where the insurance man is monitoring you, I can see your rate being variable each month, depending on the percentage of time you spent in manual mode. And that would deter many, “Yeah you can have a manual commute today, but next month’s bill is going to be $4 higher because of it.”

          In that way, you whittle away at the manual driving.

          All this is of course conjecture, just the way I can see it going.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Fuel costs have varied since the invention of the internal combustion engine, and safety mandates have been with us for half a century.

            I think you’re right that insurance on manual driven cars becomes exorbitant when they become abnormal, but I don’t see that ever happening. I don’t think the majority of drivers will ever give up control of their cars completely.

            Insurance companies might WANT us to all go autonomous, and might want to introduce some kind of weird-a** pricing scheme like the one you’re talking about, but do they really risk p*ssing off customers with nonsense pricing like that? I doubt it. Again, I’m no expert on the insurance biz, but I do know it’s cut-throat competitive. If GEICO pulls this nonsense, someone else won’t.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’m not convinced on the insurance thing either. Even accounting for the low annual mileage, it’s not any more expensive for me to insure my 1960 Cadillac than a “normal” car. This for a 5000 lb vehicle with drum brakes, and no airbags, seatbelts, or crumple zones. Extreme example? Maybe. But similar arguments can be made for 80s and 90s cars with fewer airbags, no stability control, worse brakes than 2017 models, etc. Autonomous driving may be a huge safety improvement, but from an actuarial/insurance standpoint it’s fundamentally no different from many other safety improvements that have come before it. Those haven’t resulted in older cars being unaffordable to insure and I doubt this will either.

        • 0 avatar

          “Autonomous driving may be a huge safety improvement, but from an actuarial/insurance standpoint it’s fundamentally no different from many other safety improvements that have come before it.”

          That is incorrect. The human element is removed from the autonomous car, which is the basis for its operation in EVERY instance beforehand.

          You drove the Model T yourself, just like Benz Patent Motorwagen, the 1950 Cadillac and the 1980 Thunderbird.

          This is different. For the first time, the dangerous mammal is no longer in control of thousands of pounds of machine.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “The human element is removed from the autonomous car, which is the basis for its operation in EVERY instance beforehand.”

            I can see how that lessens risk, but then again, that assumes that the “human element” – i.e., the insurance company’s paying customers – WANTS ITSELF removed entirely.

            Can you realistically see that happening? I can’t. And as long as the insurance companies’ paying customers insist on driving themselves at least part of the time, I can’t see them making autonomous cars the norm by doing what you’re talking about with their rates. Insurance companies have to work with the market, like any other for-profit, and as long as their market likes to be in control of their own cars at least some of the time, they have to respond to that.

          • 0 avatar

            I think here you must consider that you’re thinking like an older person. You grew up without apps for everything and manual this and that.

            Younger generations are not the same. They want things done for them, and do not favor manual effort. They are not that interested in driving themselves, owning possessions which require maintenance, etc.

            Automatic and autonomous – what can you do for me so I don’t have to? I can Facebook and Tweet and not have to worry about getting a ticket, cause I’m not driving? Sign me up.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yuck, did you have to pick the 1980 ‘Bird? Lol

          • 0 avatar

            1980 Thunderbird is a car you just want to drive…

            off a cliff.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Ok, but where is that dividing line? ABS, stability control, Autopilot etc all remove control from the human and give it to a computer. My point was that insurance companies care only about risk of financial loss. Fewer crashes and less severe injuries during crashes that do occur are both means to that end. Autonomous cars help with the first, as do better brakes, stability control, and numerous others. Seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, etc help with the second.

            Perhaps this is wishful thinking from someone who wants to drive his own car the rest of his life, but if none of the many improvements listed have led to old cars without them being banned from the road or unaffordable to insure, I just don’t see autonomous cars as being that tipping point where we change the fundamental thought process and financial calculations that go into car insurance.

          • 0 avatar

            I think it is wishful thinking. All those “aids” you described are still under the control of the driver – they are correcting issues the -driver- has caused. Think about it. Stability control, ABS, traction, lane keep. All stuff that’s fixing errors YOU, the driver have made.

            No driver, no more issues. The risk basis is changed.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “1980 Thunderbird is a car you just want to drive…off a cliff.”
            My brother drove his into a post.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “I think here you must consider that you’re thinking like an older person. You grew up without apps for everything and manual this and that.”

            Get off my lawn, self-driving car!

            Interesting point, but then again, a smartphone doesn’t drive you into a tree and end your life if it malfunctions.

            In the end, those young whipper snappers are just as protective of their bods as you or I are…probably more, as a matter of fact.

            (By the way, I Snapchatted both my kids about your assumption …oldest is 21, youngest is 16, and they are VERY MUCH in “Generation I”. Youngest said no, and the oldest said hell no. Folks in their generation are just as mistrustful of technology as they are dependent on it, in my experience.)

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            “Get off my lawn, self-driving car!”

            [wipes glasses]… “Oh dang, it’s just my self-driving lawn mower.”

            “oldest is 21, youngest is 16, and they are VERY MUCH in “Generation I”. Youngest said no, and the oldest said hell no.”

            My son is 17 and wants to drive my manual Mazda3. He and a large chunk of his friends don’t have a Facebook account either. Corey’s stark assumptions about Millennials might be true (I’m doubtful), but the generation that follows could very well be different.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @FreedMike – autonomous vehicles will be safer but human beings are highly irrational creatures. They would rather ignore injury/mortality rates if there is the slightest perception of loss of freedom.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I do feel that autonomous vehicles will gain acceptance more readily in dense urban centres. Rural areas will be the domain of Red Barchetta’s and Brodozers.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        For me, it boils down to this: I trust myself more than I trust a computer. Perhaps someday, AI will be able to handle complex, nuanced tasks like driving a car down a narrow street filled with bikes and pedestrians, but that opens a whole Pandora’s Box of nasty (and probable) outcomes, like people being replaced by machines. Ever seen “Battlestar Galactica”?

        I’m not ready to go there, and I don’t think most people are, either.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGhost

          FreedMike,
          I assume you are a competent driver. If you don’t want an AV, fine by me.

          But then there is grandma who can barely see over the windshield and can’t get out of second gear. But who still needs to get groceries every week, see her doctor and return that book to the library.

          There’s the 16 year old kid who just got his license and wonders whether the top speed on the speedometer is theoretical, or can actually be achieved on Main Street.

          The neighbor who gets hammered every Friday night trying to forget what a miserable job he has, then drives home. The taxi driver with his laptop open in the passenger seat so he can multitask by binge watching on Netflix.

          You get where I’m going here.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Absolutely correct, and who do I want in charge of my car when grandma, the 16 year old kid, or the drunk wanders into my path?

            I can’t control other people’s choices, or their competence, but I can control how I react to them. If I see grandma’s immaculate 2000 Buick wandering around five car lengths ahead, I have enough experience and intelligence to give her a wide berth. Problem avoided. Does a computer have that kind of judgment? Good question.

            And if there’s a computer that’s trustworthy enough to replace my judgment in that kind of situation, imagine what else it could replace me at…like my job, for example.

            I get the “automation saves lives” argument, but there are going to be unintended consequences to it as well. We need to think very carefully about what we choose to let computers and machines control for us.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          ” Ever seen “Battlestar Galactica”?”

          But… but, the Cylon Babes are sooo hot!

          Speaking of hot, HotWheels still sells toy cars… the kind you drive. There are still posters of Ferraris and Lambos and McClarens and the Ford GT, and the NSX. I think young people are still interested. That they want to ride bicycles and fly drones proves to me they still want to control, drive, and direct vehicles.

          @FreedMike — I agree with your arguments, but it’s kind of funny coming from someone with an avatar that combines StarTrek and NASA. :)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I own a manual and it took some finding. A few years back now I bought a great little Mazda/Ford pickup, top of the line, which meant Mazda consider most all who bought them wanting an auto.

    I found my 6spd manual and have enjoyed it, especially off road, where I consider a manual far better than an auto.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Death…or the loss of a major limb.
    I understand that today’s automatics/CVTs/etc., are better, faster, stronger. That said, I still much prefer to row my own. My son came to visit me a few months ago and was driving a borrowed Golf, wasn’t even a GTI. But it was a manual. And gods, did I love it. Efficiency be damned…

  • avatar
    warrant242

    A lot of good cars are Japanese
    But when I’m driving far
    I need my baby, my baby next to me

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I think I will keep the Cobra replica – carb, distributor and all. If I lose a limb, I will move to the passenger seat.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    For me it’s mainly the features-available issue. I’m a Honda fan and will possibly buy a 2018 Civic next spring. No current manual version comes with a hatchback body, a sunroof, Sirius/XM, and Android Auto, features that might not be essential but are enough to make me accept the automatic to get them all. If I keep the new Civic as long as I’ve had my current 5 sp. Fit, I’ll be 73 by the time I buy new again. At 73, I’ll probably be ready for an auto for physical reasons.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t give a damn about the infotainment. I don’t have it in my ’08 Civic, and I’m happier that way. I wish on newer cars that you could get them without the infotainment.

      • 0 avatar
        King of Eldorado

        Yeah, I’m actually a bit take-it-or-leave-it on the latest in infotainment, reasonably happy with my 2011 Fit’s AM-FM-CD-aux standard unit, with a $150 stand-alone Garmin GPS for when I need it and a $20 Bluetooth adaptor that lets me play my old iPod through the speakers. To be a little more specific, and leaving aside the infotainment, no current Civic Hatchback comes with both a sunroof and a manual transmission. Even the Type R lacks a sunroof, and the manual-only SI comes only as a coupe or sedan.

  • avatar
    MOSullivan

    A manual requires more than just the transmission. Clutch engagement is the key thing and I’ve driven some cars with clutches so bad I figured it was deliberate to make people buy the slushie. The engine management system has to be unobtrusive so you can rev match and drive smoothly. I’ve driven cars with systems that fought the driver with rev hang and even worse things. A handbrake is part of the deal and they’re disappearing. The push button e-brake isn’t a good setup because you can’t feed the brake off as you engage the clutch. A sloppy shift linkage can go a long way towards making a manual a pain to drive although the problem isn’t the transmission itself.

    It’s getting harder and harder to find a stick with all of the other things that make them enjoyble to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      In 13 years as a daily driver,my Suzuki always managed to make me look like a clueless newbie with the clutch. It was something specific to mine, and it even persisted through a clutch replacement. I’ve driven other example of the same vehicle and never had a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      ronange

      Completely agree. Wish I read this before I posted my comment below. Rev hang, vague clutch bite point, and tall gear ratio are what’s steering me away from today’s manual offerings. The last manual car I drove that I really enjoyed was my 5 speed MK4 Jetta 2.slow. It had a better feel than my 6 speed MK6 Jetta GLI. I actually prefer my W124 Merc E320’s close ratio auto transmission to the GLI’s gearing.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Lack of availability, physical pain/discomfort, or a constant stop-n-go commute.

    For a daily driver I could give up my manual but only as long as I had a weekend “fun” / track car with a manual to enjoy. The two car solution is really the answer here, this way I wouldn’t have to completely give up on my stick shift. At the rate things are going manual cars will be such a niche market they will only be found at track days by people still wrenching on old Miatas and BMWs. Most new sporty or “fast” cars are dual clutch automatics already so the idea that sports cars in general will survive as manuals is sadly not going to pan out.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Pain.

    Pain has necessitated having an automatic as my daily driver, when less than a decade ago, all I had were manuals.

    Back when I had only manuals, I was stubborn and said I would always have them, pain be damned. Well, on the way home one day after many hours of driving, including many of them spent in heavy traffic, it happened. The pinched nerve in my back got so bad that I couldn’t work the car, as in I simply couldn’t make my leg push in the clutch, or more accurately, I couldn’t lift it to put it on the clutch pedal. The pain was immense, I barely made it home (in 4th gear IIRC because that’s what it was in when this happened) and I had to call for help because I couldn’t get myself out of the car. I’m not the type that cries at the drop of a hat, but I was in so much pain, I couldn’t help it. I got very scared, my hands and feet were numb and tingly, I was losing the ability to move, it was very, very bad. So, I made the decision that my next vehicle would be an automatic and I would keep at least one around from now on.

    I still have the ability to drive a manual, some times. So, I am not permanently out of the row-your-own market, not yet anyway. I plan to own another manual, but it won’t replace my automatic (as in I won’t get rid of the automatic, and even if it’s destroyed, I’ll have to get another auto for when I’m unable to drive a manual). It will be a second car, a car I drive when I feel like it.

    So, what will permanently remove the manual from my options list? Physical pain, the inability to make it work. So long as I still have the ability, I will do my best to keep one around for the simple fact that I enjoy it. I don’t enjoy being in the shape I described above, so it can’t be my only car, at least not for long.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry to hear about the pain. I hope you have a good pain specialist.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Thanks man, and no, not currently. I see a doctor every three months, and I was told last time that the corporation that owns the clinic said that there have been reports of overdoses in the media, so they’re scaling back the prescriptions for narcotics. P¡sses me off. I really don’t like pain pills, but I would like to have them when I need them.

        Especially when I’m trying to go to work, if I don’t have a way to deal with the pain (at the end of the day especially), I end up calling in more and more often. Its hard for an employer to deal with that, and I understand that fully, and that’s why I haven’t worked in a while. But, I’m sick of putting everything continuously on hold, so I’m going to have to deal with it the best way I can.

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          Have you tried non narcotic nerve medication like gabapentin, lyrica, or even amitriptyline? If not they may be worth a shot. They have some side effects, but can be very effective.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I have, Lyrica had horrible side effects for me, I took it for a week and I remember nothing from that week. From what I’ve been told, it wasn’t good. Neuroton (sp?) had a massive depressive effect, something I already deal with, but thankfully not that bad.

            I do take amitriptyline, it helps with a lot of my issues such as migraines, depression, insomnia, etc. My life is much better with it, but I still have the chronic pain. Its been one of the few medications I’ve tried that did make a significant positive difference.

            All that’s left are NSAIDs, which have absolutely no effect on the pain, but upset my stomach (to put it mildly lol). I can only conclude that inflammation isn’t the issue, otherwise they would do some good. I don’t know. I just know I’ve tried many versions and none helped.

            Same with steroid shots. Had no effect except pain at the injection site. I took one before a flight from Atlanta to Seattle. The flight was so horrible, I could barely walk when I arrived, and I bought a wrecked-but-driveable car for the return trip. I’d much rather spend 3 days driving where I can stop and walk or rest anytime I want than to spend 8 hours in a torture chamber they call an airliner. I haven’t flown since.

            As I said, I don’t like pain pills, I don’t like the side effects and I don’t like taking something that has a possibility of becoming addictive. But, when the pain gets so bad, you’ll do almost anything to get relief.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            I’m sorry to hear of your pain. I suffer from nerve damage as a result of dental surgery and take a combination of nerve drugs. I know what it’s like to just want the pain to go away. I forgot to mention I have taken cymbalta which provided some relief. New research seems to be heading in the direction of blocking nerve receptors or sodium channels, known as nav1.7, 1.8, and 1.9 blockers. No medication available yet but I hope we see some soon.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Thanks man, I appreciate that. Yes, something like that could be the answer. I’m sorry about your nerve issues as well, I wouldn’t wish such on my worst enemy.

            I’m naturally an active person, I have no desire to sit around doing nothing. I’m the type who would still rather change my own oil and do other work on my car rather than pay someone were I financially able to do so. Its hard for some to understand that yes, I do enjoy cbanging my car’s oil. It isn’t work so much as it is a labor of love, an appreciation for what I have, and for my ability to do such.

            I did take Cymbalta, for a while, and it seemed to be helping some, but tests showed it was throwing off my liver enzymes (IIRC, if not that, it was something along those lines), so I had to stop taking it.

            I don’t mind talking about this stuff, but I want everyone reading this to know that I am not seeking pity, only understanding. In that light, though, I am honest when I say that I do appreciate sympathetic words like yours and others.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            How about just some plain, ol’, over-the-counter, cheap Aspirin? If it’s hard on your stomach, then get one with a buffering coating on it.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I have tried over-the-counter medicines. Taking an aspirin when its really bad is like pouring a glass of water on a blazing house fire.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Afraid I can’t help you then. I’ve managed to survive a long time without extreme pain (outside of a couple of kidney stones.) What pains I do get are either resolved by chiropractic adjustment or 2-3 aspirin (regular strength.)

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    To make a nautical analogy, we are in an automotive equivalent of the transition from the age of sail to the age of power. Navies around the world have sail training vessels, in the US, the Navy Academy 44s and the USCG Eagle. Makes for better sailors and after the Aegis class accidents they could use the practice. No such mandate for vehicles, though, so convenience wins, as most people don’t care and think they drive well enough and aren’t interested in the engagement/entertainment value.
    I have had MT cars for 44 years, but now also have an AT sedan – Camry – as well as a 6MT toy car. Arthritis may get me out of the latter. Love driving it, but getting in and out is no fun. If I hang onto it long enough, the market may foreclose the option anyway.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    This topic and the hatred of AWD always amuses/baffles me.

    MTs are fun to drive. But aside from that there’s really no practical reason for them. The vast majority of people see a car as an appliance. For the small minority that sees it as a toy, then MTs are a fun add on to the toy. I’ll buy MT for my fun sports car that is driven every now and then out on the open road. Daily drivers on the other hand, that spend more time going 8 MPH than 80 MPH….no thanks.

    Also as an aside, I hadn’t driven my wife’s e300 in a while and had forgotten how awesome that car is. I drove it over the weekend. One of the things that stuck out at me was the incredible shifting that 9-speed does. Even if that were available as MT and I knew I’d never be stuck in traffic with it, I’d stick with the auto. I also thought to myself, this car is wasted on the mrs :)

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    My age and inability physically to row my own.

    That’s it.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This seems like one of my joke QoTDs:
    What will get you IN to a stick?
    What will get you OUT of a stick?
    Why are sticks so RARE?
    Why dont automakers make more STICKS?
    Even DOGs like sticks!

    If you made the experience entirely artificial I’d keep away permanently, it’d be nothing but work with no reward. The same goes for those CVTs that imitate normal automatics.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    I won’t say I’m permanently out of the manual-shifting world, but I have a 2015 Challenger R/T with the automatic because I had a manual 2010 and decided I had the right car with the wrong transmission. I know it had an electronic throttle and dual-disc hydraulic clutch for valid engineering reasons, but the combination was not fun to live with in day-to-day life.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “… Modern automatics are efficient and have enough gears and programming to make the most of a powerful engine.”

    In theory, sure. In high-end vehicles, maybe. But many, many of the reviews on this site mention disappointment with the poor performance of the slushbox installed in the vehicle, not to mention reliability issues(Hi there Ford and Chrysler!). Buying a manual means there’s no chance you’re getting a poorly-programmed black box made of glass.

  • avatar
    arach

    I think this is a very well written article- Props for original content on TTAC and not just regurgitating national PR releases.

    I do however jump on the bandwagon that we may see the manual survive. As autonomous cars and semi-autonomous cars become the norm, I think we’ll see an uptick (or continuation) of the “specialty car” for performance- The arial atoms and similar of the world, where we may get more specialized manual cars because they simply are NOT being used for normal daily driving duty. In other words, you may see an uptick in performance cars purchased for performance driving, even if that means doing it on tracks and whatnot.

    Today buyers often need to balance multiple needs, but if driving is done, then it turns into a hobby and not a chore, and people spend money on hobbies. We may see an influx of more specialty sports cars and an increase in autocross, and track racing.

    Now that may be largely well-wishing, but there is some proof to support it.

    There’s no question that cars are for example, more convenient than bicycling for many people, as well as riding horses… yet the horse industry and bicycle industry are thriving and growing, not in combat with cars but as a secondary market.

    How many people own horses for transportation? in 1959, there were only 4.5 million… but today there are 9 million. In other words, there are twice as many horses despite horses no longer being preferred transportation.

    I can see the manuals taking the path of the horse… declining from “20 million” to “4.5 million” and then rising back to “9 million”. Specialty cars with manual transmissions may be more prevalent when the car has one purpose- Fun race car, and doesn’t have to compete with the other modern needs like comfort, fuel economy, and general purpose use.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the compliment!

      I’ll agree on specialty, non-road use. People keeping their track cars and fun vehicles, with Miatas and Ariel Atoms insured for such purposes only. These instances would of course be on a separate insurance grouping.

      Perhaps a future of manuals at the track is a good compromise. Dirt tracks as well, as people will need offroading places.

    • 0 avatar
      I_like_stuff

      “How many people own horses for transportation? in 1959, there were only 4.5 million… but today there are 9 million. In other words, there are twice as many horses despite horses no longer being preferred transportation.”

      Yeah but in 1959 there were only 180M people, today there are 330M. So the number of horses doubled as the population almost doubled, in the same time period. So basically the relative number of horses stayed the same.

      I think that will happen with MTs as well. The absolute number will increase, but the relative number to population, will stay steady.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Very well written and thought out yourself, sir.

      I once heard Jay Leno make a similar comparison with horses. Horse ownership didn’t go away when cars replaced them as a main source of transportation, they become the domain of people riding for fun, for recreation, and the horse is better for it. I’m sure the typical horse of 2017 has a much better life than one did in 1817.

      I can see traditional cars (including manual transmission examples) going that way when most of the world switches over to automated pods that require no input or involvement on the part of the human inside.

      I hope that’s the case, and that they won’t be regulated out if existence. The day a government official comes to take away my car for “health and safety” reasons, I may just go full-on fanatical and die in a blaze of glory, with my car keys firmly clutched in my cold dead hands when its all said and done.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Jay Leno feels that EV’s will be the savior of ICE vehicles for the enthusiast. It may not make sense at first glance but if one thinks about it, it makes perfect sense. The 90% out there that sees vehicles as appliances will accept EV and/or autonomous control readily. That is no different than hopping on mass transit but the EV will provide more freedom and more personalized service. The rest of us that want to go were we want when we want or desire full interaction with the machine/driving experience will still have that. It might not be available on certain routes but that shouldn’t matter.

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    Every time I purchased an automatic car, usually it was a used car and I didn’t have any choice, and talked myself into getting it instead of waiting and finding a manual one.

    After that, I always regretted not getting the manual option, always!!!

  • avatar
    wumpus

    I’ve assumed that my first car without a stick will be a car without a transmission at all. Telsa, the Accord hybrid (presumably, earlier models worked this way), and at least one konigssegggeg completely lack transmissions.

    While I’m reasonably sure that all these cars could be improved with a transmission (especially the Honda stuck in over-drive only), I’m reasonably confident that the efficiency and never worrying about the transmission breaking (or replacing a clutch) is a good thing.

    When that happens, the only thing left will be to learn to ride a motorcycle. Cars are being designed to allow people to do as little driving as possible, so expect at some point to need to reduce things by two wheels to control what is going on.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The electrically assisted CVT in my Ford C-Max Hybrid has already shifted me permanently away from manual transmissions – and I used to be a stickshift-only guy. This transmission is smooth and linear, and is by far the best transmission in any vehicle that I’ve ever owned. It has none of the “rubber band” feel that is a common complaint about CVTs.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I’ve never owned anything but manual transmission cars, but the reasons for doing so are almost all gone. Unlike the 2-4 speed automatics of years gone by, today’s 8-10 speed automatics are almost always getting better MPG, quieter low RPMs at highway speeds, and providing faster acceleration than 5-6 speed manuals. The durability of modern automatics is probably the equal or better of manuals that frequently have unreliable dual-mass flywheels and/or heavy clutch plate wear from inexpert prior use by a previous owner. With the exception of a few sports cars, automatics almost always have better resale value than manuals, which offsets all or most of their higher purchase price, if indeed they are actually more expensive to purchase. Better modern automatics are also pretty responsive in manual shifting modes, so the “fun” factor of a manual is also greatly reduced. About the only area that manuals still offer a significant advantage is as an anti-theft device since so few car thieves seem to know how to row their own.

    As for fully-autonomous self-driving cars – I think they are a lot farther off than many experts think – perhaps due to trial lawyers who smell a big payday from “deep pocket” manufacturers who sell “defective” self-driving vehicles or self-driving hardware/software. John Edwards needs something to fund his retirement since that Presidential thing never worked out.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      > I’ve never owned anything but manual transmission cars, but the reasons for doing so
      > are almost all gone. Unlike the 2-4 speed automatics of years gone by, today’s 8-10
      > speed automatics are almost always getting better MPG, quieter low RPMs at highway
      > speeds, and providing faster acceleration than 5-6 speed manuals.

      And yet, many reviews point to the new 7-8-9-10 speed autos as being really bad.

      By far the best automatic transmission I have driven is the 4-speed 4T65-E in my father-in-law’s Buick LeSabre. Truly pleasant car to drive if you are not trying to drive fast.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        The old 3 and 4 speed automatics were often smooth (aka slush boxes), but they were far less efficient at transferring power than a 4 or 5 speed manual, so were slower and less fuel efficient, and it was easy to justify the manual purchase based on better performance or economy. With rare exceptions, that is not true today.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    When the car I’m interested in doesn’t offer one. Recently test drive a Giulia TI. Between the 2.0t and no manual availability, I didn’t expect to like it much.

    To my surprise, I really enjoyed the car. The engine could’ve been stronger but it never felt lacking. The ZF8 was spectacular. Responsive and crisp up-shifts and down-shifts via the paddles and smooth when moving out at low speeds.

    I’d buy a Giulia with that transmission and for the most part wouldn’t feel that I’m missing out on much.

  • avatar

    Probably disability.

    Driving is one of my favorite activities–yes, even within the Boston metro area, where I live–and shifting has been part of the fun since my father taught me to shift, when I was 9, on the ’57 Plymouth, a car with a monster clutch.

    Now, I don’t commute, period. But even a commute with a lot of stop and go traffic probably wouldn’t get me into a car with a slushbox. The only time shifting ever got really tiresome for me was in an hour-long backup on Rt. 95 somewhere between Delaware and Baltimore a number of years ago. Half hour backups annoy hell out of me, but not because of the shifting.

  • avatar

    I had driven multiple E46 M3s in 6-speed and thought “meh.”

    The moment I drove one with the SMG, it changed my entire perspective.

    I now race one with an SMG and I can honestly say it is worth significant time over the manual.

    That was my “moment.”

    I still can’t stand a slushbox automatic, but the SMGs and DSGs and PDKs I’ve driven have all been mind blowingly good.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Physical incapacity or simple inability to locate a car the fits my criteria and has a manual.

    Ironically, the only vehicle I’ve ever shopped where I wanted an automatic (work truck) ended up with a 5 speed because that was the best deal that turned up.

  • avatar
    brentrn

    When an EV is the best car for my needs that will be the end of my shifting. Otherwise, I will continue to seek a manual.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Stop using CVT.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I will keep driving stick until both of our 5-speed Subarus are beyond repair; they’re both doing fine with proper maintenance (’03 Legacy wagon, ’06 Forester) and by the time they’re both worn out, most new offerings will be EVs anyway and the question will be moot.

    Kids who start driving in 10 years or so (in the U.S., anyway) won’t miss shifting and won’t understand the nostalgia among some of us. Likewise, the desirability of one kind of internal combustion engine versus another will be meaningless to them; outside of collector cars, the only ICEs will be small auxiliary ones in plug-in hybrids.

  • avatar
    vindasrama

    Nothing can, as long as I am physically able to drive one. Suppose new cars stop offering them, I’d hang on to my old cars or buy used.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    One solution could be quite easy for the [software] engineers to add: A stick and clutch pedal that mimic actual mechanical parts. It’d be half video game, but programming those parts to work with the stereo and motor controllers wouldn’t be that hard.

    When your Tesla is ‘in first’, it’ll respond to your throttle inputs, but acceleration will wane, forcing a ‘shift’ to ‘2nd’. You could have paddles or sequential, or a gated shifter. Whatever you like! As many ratios as you want! Any ‘engine’ sound. Any torque curve. All via programming.

    It could be fun. I’ll be the old guy still driving Datsuns; please don’t crash into me.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    My BMW E39 530i is a vastly better car with the manual than the automatic, and I’m glad I have 3 pedals. Things have changed in the intervening 15 years. If I were to buy, say, a 2015+ model car that wasn’t a Miata or Toyobaru, it would be an automatic (or DSG/PDK/SMG/etc) because they’re simply better. Same for when all cars are eventually autonomous and/or electric–no gearbox, so no manuals.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    When it gets too difficult to find a manual in the type of car I want and I can’t afford/don’t have the space for a second car. It’s sadly getting close to that day.

    Automatics have improved a lot, but they still haven’t reached a point where I prefer them to a manual. I even find the ZF 8-speed overrated (as implemented in a 2011 X3). Reviews make it sound like it shifts as fast as you can pull the paddles, but there is about a half second delay. Obviously faster than my shifts, but owning the whole process passes the time faster than waiting for a response to a command, if that makes any sense. I can also go directly from 6th to 3rd, while the ZF8SP shifts through each gear sequentially, typically downshifting from 8th unless you’re in sport mode. It gets frustrating fast. I actually prefer ZF’s 6-speed, especially with what Jaguar did with it in the XF.

    That said, it and other contemporary automatics are good enough that I could probably live with it to get the rest of what I want. That was not true 15 years ago. Back then it would have to be a manual as long as I had a working left leg.

  • avatar
    TeeJayHoward

    For me, this is easy. A physical defect which prevents me from operating a manual transmission. Every time I’ve purchased an automatic vehicle, I’ve regretted it within months of buying it. I don’t want to go down that road again. Making monthly payments on a car you hate isn’t a fun place to be.

  • avatar
    eelinow

    The first four of the ten cars in total that I’ve personally owned were manual (along with an additional two). That being said, the last three cars I bought have been automatics. To clarify lest someone think I lack sufficient credentials for manual-loving: I’ve have two manual hatchbacks (one was a full-time rally-car, the other a close-ratio F20 Getrag equipped model), one manual 4×4 pickup, one manual 4 speed RWD Van, one turbo-charged sedan and finally a manual RWD carbureted wagon with a 4-speed swapped for a 5-speed from a Datsun 280z.

    That being said, I first tolerated automatics when I owned not one, but two RWD Volvos (A 244DL and a 945 Estate). Followed by a Mercury Grand Marquis (Panther platform, have to own at least one) with a column shift (and a lovely 275 ft/lbs of torque), and now with my ’03 Buick Park Avenue. The latter two were purchased because of despite my relatively young age, I had a few disc issues in my spine that really benefitted from these rolling couches. As much as I love driving manuals and routinely get offered to try out friend’s and even friend’s acquaintances cars (to put them through their paces based on my prior racing experience), I’ve learned to love driving in the less stressful, less rushed comfort afforded by these more modern-day land yachts. Quiet, heavily padded and care-free. I don’t get frustrated in traffic, I don’t ever get tired on 6+ hour drives to for personal holiday or visiting family/friends several states away.

    I used to espouse the same die-hard “you’ll take my manual cars from me when you pry them from my cold-dead-hands” type mantra. That really changed with the last couple cars. The Buick especially has had a great affect on my driving experience. Does this mean I’ve ruled out buying manuals in the future? Of course not. However, it isn’t a make or break issue any longer, especially given the vehicles I’m looking at to replace the Park Avenue (early 20xx’s 7-Series or W140/W220 Mercedes from mid-90’s to early 20xx’s).

    I think that there aren’t any ‘new’ models with manuals I would buy at this point as my preferences have changes, even in the case of row-it-yourself machinery. I’d be looking at 60’s & 70’s German/Italian/Swedish/English toy’s for weekend amusement, but never as a daily driver anymore.

    Either way, YMMV.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    One answer: Age.

    As one gets older, many – me included – want less and less things to aggravate us when we drive, especially if we are still working and must commute. A manual transmission in a daily driver for me if I were still working would be a real headache.

    As I am retired, it’s really not an issue any longer, but I’m not about to convert my Impala to a manual, although that would be interesting!

  • avatar
    Zane Wylder

    Only one thing would stop me: http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/masonry/000/628/263/a45.gif

    Until then, Manual for life

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    … death …

  • avatar
    seanx37

    A badly arthritic knee , and a broken left ankle.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I am driving a rental Chrysler 300 today. Nice enough car, except for the idiotic 20 inch wheels and, of course, the dreaded automatic transmission. I don’t know how people drive these things. Must have nerves of steel.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    One word answer: Love

    My fiancée drives an automatic Solstice. She can’t drive my manual Miata, which is a weekend fun car. We live in a townhome community where having three cars is a hassle. Our fun car will be the Solstice, or maybe we’ll get a Mustang convertible. Either way the Miata will be sold.

    I never thought I’d say that, I’ve had manual Miatas for over 20 years. but I’d never had love like this either. The pleasure of the manual is fun but it pales in comparison to the other ways life has got better and having a manual just dropped down the priority list.

  • avatar
    ronange

    Personally, the fun factor has been taken away from today’s manual driven cars. Things like taller gearing for the sake of fuel efficiency, clutch dampening to extend the clutch’ life, and ECU induced rev-hang to efficiently combust fuel have removed the tactile feel and fun of driving a stick.

    Also, I think that mating a manual to high power, high torque cars lead to unmet expectations on how manuals should operate. I think manuals shine more on cars that are lower powered. They benefit more from the driver’s skill to wind up the engine when needed.

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