By on October 8, 2021

Twitter is amazing sometimes. One of the best parts about it is that occasionally a great piece of journalism — a feature story or investigative report — finds its way into your timeline.

Sometimes, though, you get the flip side. Sometimes, you come across an opinion/hot take so bad you feel like you, should you have a platform, eviscerate it.

Luckily, I have such a platform. And while anyone these days can post a screed on Medium, Substack, or even Facebook, the platform I have here is best suited for the takedown that’s about to commence. Lucky you.

The piece in question today is this gem from MEL Magazine, which bills itself as a men’s lifestyle and culture outlet. I’ve read content from MEL before and found it to be perfectly fine, but I cannot believe an editor didn’t either talk writer Ian Lecklitner out of writing this piece or at least working with him to strengthen his arguments.

To be clear, I don’t know Lecklitner, and I don’t want to make this personal. Previous TTAC eviscerations of poor journalism and/or bad arguments have sometimes veered into personal attacks, and I plan to do no such thing. Lecklitner might be a nice guy, and God knows that every journalist who publishes their opinion, myself very much included, occasionally drops one that is poorly argued or underbaked. Some of you think I’ve done it here. You may or may not be correct.

It’s an occupational hazard, especially if you publish your opinions multiple times. So, I’m gonna go easy on Lecklitner himself here, but not his arguments.

Let’s get after it, section by section:


Men who can drive stick think they’re the top dogs of the road, but really, they’re just the top dogs of grinding our gears

OK, the headline isn’t so bad. Makes me think we might get an analysis of stick-shift drivers broken down by gender, which could tell us some things about who buys what kind of car, and who considers themselves an enthusiast. I’d read that.

But then, that subhead. What the hell is going on there? Who are these stick-shift driving men who think they’re king of the road? Is this a thing? I have never heard of this. Not to mention, that with the manual transmission slowly dying (more on this later), are there really a large number of males who drive manuals and act like assholes on the road?

We’re not off to a good start. And the lede paragraph sets a troubled tone.

When I was a teenager, one of my best friends drove a black Volkswagen Jetta with a manual transmission. He tried teaching me when to press the clutch late one night, but I panicked and stalled. That’s all it took for me to pledge allegiance to automatic cars, and I haven’t touched a gear stick since.

A younger, meaner me would’ve probably poked fun at someone for panicking the first time they tried to drive a stick — didn’t most of us get flustered on our first tries? And didn’t we overcome that, in order to learn? But I won’t do that here. Some people just react that way, and it’s fine. Though I do find it weird he never tried again.

That said, if driving a stick wasn’t for our author, fine. It’s not for everyone, at least not since the automatic trans became dominant. If you don’t want to do it, or even try to learn, you don’t have to, and that’s OK.

Of course, if we ended here, well, no big deal. It’s just a writer expressing a preference, with a backstory. But the piece goes on.

The automatic cars I’ve owned over the years have always delivered me from point A to point B, and they’ve been largely reliable (except for my used Honda CR-V, which would spontaneously shut down, sometimes in the middle of the L.A. freeway). Yet, I’ll occasionally run into a guy who, for some reason, is insulted by my inability to drive stick. He’s what I call a Manual Car Man, a dude who prides himself on seamlessly shifting gears and thinks less of anyone who can’t.

OK, here’s where we start going off the rails. Let’s put aside that reliability isn’t, for the most part, related to transmission type. I’m more curious about the existence of Manual Car Man. Because quite frankly, I don’t think this guy really exists. At least not in any great number.

I’m not saying the number is zero — I’ve met a few people, mostly enthusiasts who work in the industry, who look down on those who can’t drive stick, or can’t do it smoothly. But based on personal experience, they’re mostly looking down on fellow car people — people that they expect will have an interest in, and ability to, drive a stick. I have yet to meet any car guy (or gal) who will shit on someone outside the industry for not driving a stick.

It’s one thing for auto journalists to quietly gossip about the dude who can’t shift smoothly while posted up to the bar, shrimp in one hand and cocktail in the other, but nothing in our author’s bio seems to suggest he writes about cars.

From here, our author posts a tweet from autos writer Alanis King, who he quotes later. The tweet mocks a certain type of man that brags about his vehicular adventures — it’s funny, and that type of man does exist — but the tweet seems irrelevant to his argument. King doesn’t even mention stick-shift drivers in the tweet.

Before I infuriate everyone, let me be clear: There are incredible people who prefer manual cars for respectable reasons. For instance, the folks on r/StickShift tell me they enjoy driving stick because it’s more engaging, cheaper and (allegedly) allows for greater control. I can appreciate them and their preferences. (However, there was one Manual Car Man in the group who said they prefer manual cars “because everything else trash, homie.”)

Next, we get this. An acknowledgment of why some folks choose a clutch pedal, and that many, if not most, of those who do are cool people. OK, that’s fair. But the parenthetical is a problem. Is one quote, perhaps made in jest, really proof that the Reddit poster is a “Manual Car Man” or that this (again, as far as I can tell, nonexistent or almost nonexistent) type of person is the scourge of the highways and byways of this great nation?

But instead of simply enjoying his passion and leaving me alone, the stereotypical Manual Car Man gets off on a deep sense of superiority.

Wait, what? Who gets off on being superior because they know how to drive a stick and enjoy it? I don’t feel superior to my friends and family who can’t drive a stick — or who can but don’t enjoy it — just because I like to row my own. And by the way, the percentage of people I know in my personal life who can’t drive a manual is probably around 90, with another 5 percent being people who can drive stick but would rather not for whatever reason (commuting, laziness, age, etc.).

Seems pretty absurd for a person to look down upon their social circle just because most of them lack a certain skill, or have that skill but care not to use it. I have friends who have skills I don’t, skills I could probably learn but have not, and unless I am completely oblivious, I don’t think they look down on me for lacking those skills.

In other words, I’m having a hard time buying that most stick-shift drivers care enough to “feel superior” to those who can only drive automatics. Maybe a few do. But I bet they’re a really small minority.

“The love of driving manual is extremely tied to the idea of a ‘pure’ driving experience,” says Kristen Lee, deputy editor of The Drive. “Cars without manual [transmissions] — and indeed, people who do not or cannot drive manual — are looked down upon by these manual-driving people, because they’re seen as lazy or illegitimate in their automotive enthusiasm.”

I agree with the first part of that quote — some folks are purists and see manuals as more “pure” than automatics. I don’t, despite a preference for rowing my own, in part because the few manual-transmission cars still on sale aren’t that much more “pure” than automatics. Some rev-match for you, so you don’t need to heel-and-toe (something that my clumsy self is bad at, anyway). And just about all of them have the same electronic doo-dads for safety and driving assistance that automatics do. If you want a “pure” driving experience, you need to buy a really old car. Even then, you have to go back pretty far to avoid things like power steering and air conditioning and boosted brakes — exactly how “pure” are older cars?

The second part of the quote — again, I’d like to see examples of this phenomenon. I’m not picking on Lee here, and I respect her work, but is this really a thing? Maybe she has experienced it personally, but again, I feel like the Manual Car Man isn’t quite the menace, nor around in quite the numbers, as the MEL piece suggests.

What adds to this sense of dominance among Manual Car Men is the fact that manual cars are well on their way out the door. Not only are automatic transmissions objectively faster than humans (and therefore manual transmissions), but multi-speed transmissions in general are facing obsolescence. “This is all going away soon,” says Patrick George, editorial director of The Drive. “Why? Electric cars. They don’t need transmissions with gears at all.” Plus, demand for manual cars has plummeted in recent years, in large part because automatics are superior when it comes to overall performance.

OK, this is more or less true. No real beef with this part of the piece, though I will point out that a manual-transmission EV is possible — Ford built a one-off Mustang for SEMA a while back.

This leaves the Manual Car Man feeling both non-conformist — he’s saying “talk to the hand” to a wave of modern technology — and cocky in a pseudo-generational sense. It would be like if a Boomer guy tried to snub a millennial dude for not knowing how to use a rotary phone, despite the millennial having full knowledge of how to use an iPhone. “It’s a silly thing to be snobbish about, kind of like being proud that you can use an abacus,” says Lee.

I….I don’t know what the last part of that first sentence means. I’m also not sure what’s wrong with being non-conformist, as long as one isn’t a jerk about it. The phone metaphor sorta makes sense, I guess…but again, are there many manual-transmission-driving people who are being all snobby about it?

These feelings of supremacy can lead to instances of sexism, which women have long faced when it comes to driving (despite being incredible drivers). Lee, for instance, has been presumed to be an automatic-only driver on multiple occasions, even though she’s deeply experienced in the manual department. She’s also had her stick skills questioned.

OK, this is undoubtedly a thing. I have no doubt women have faced sexism when it comes to driving a stick shift. In fact, discussing that would make for a much better article.

But more than the ingrained sexism, saying a person can only be truly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about cars if they’re able to drive manual is ableist. “Not everyone can physically drive stick, whether that be due to temporary pain, chronic pain or disabilities,” says Alanis King, associate editor of transportation at Business Insider (and author of the above tweet about Car Men).

OK, this is another really good point! I’d also like to see this issue explored.

What’s more, the Manual Car Man relies entirely on an American-centric viewpoint for his sense of greatness. “In places like Asia and South America, manual cars are the norm,” Lee explains, so people in those countries don’t perceive driving stick as something to brag about. The same goes for Europe and South Africa. In other words, while driving stick is a skill that’s becoming increasingly ​​scarce in America, in the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly common.

Yes, it’s true that manuals are more common overseas. But again, are American stick-shift owners really bragging in large numbers about their prowess with a manual?

That said, again, this may soon change, and what the Manual Car Man may not anticipate is, just as manual cars go extinct, so will he. “When internal combustion engines die, it’ll be a skill for classic car drivers and pretty much nobody else,” says George.

What George says is probably true, as much as many of us hope it isn’t. But I’d bet that “Manual Car Man” actually is aware this could happen. In fact, if the author’s premise is true, and if one explanation for braggadocio about the ability to use a clutch pedal involves the scarcity of stick-shifts, wouldn’t the “Manual Car Man” be anticipating, if not dreading, the death of the stick?

And now we’re finally wrapping up:

But, in the meantime, I beseech the Manual Car Man to make an (oil) change. Sir, it seems your passion has turned to hatred. Remember why you learned to drive stick in the first place. “You know the joy that comes with it,” King says. “Approaching redline and upshifting. Downshifting and feeling the engine braking.”

I know nothing beats the feeling, but that doesn’t mean we automatic drivers are any less than you. We all share the same roads, after all.

Again, where are the examples of manual-transmission owners expressing actual hatred to those who only use two pedals? Where are the examples of people making drivers like the author feel “lesser”?

I’m not accusing the author of lying about his personal experiences. I have no reason to do so. But how many of these people is he encountering if he felt it necessary to put out 850-ish words on it? And if he’s encountering that many people, couldn’t he give more examples from his life and/or find some tweets that back his point?

I get it — sometimes we writers extrapolate our anecdotal experiences into a story. Not every story idea needs to be based on something that can be measured empirically. But we risk overinflating a problem when we use this approach. Ideally, we’d check our assumptions by discussing the story idea with editors/colleagues and, perhaps, by checking online to see if we’re not alone.

I suspect that’s the case here — Lecklitner dealt with a few idiots, either in person or online or both, who fit the definition of what he called “Manual Car Man.” These idiots were obviously all men, and possibly expressed sexist/misogynistic views. Lecklitner then turned his interactions into a story — one implying this is a bigger problem than it actually is.

Thing is, I know King and Lee have covered sexism in the industry before. Lecklitner could’ve really tapped their experiences to create a larger story about sexism in the automotive world as a whole — and believe me, it still exists and is obviously still a problem — instead of creating a mostly fictional character to address something that is, unless I’ve completely missed it, not a problem, or at least not much of one.

I don’t mean to downplay truly sexist behavior, and I am sure women have endured disgusting remarks about their ability to drive a manual. That needs to stop. But that said, I also have a hard time buying that manual-driving men are, in large numbers, looking down their noses and judging anyone, male or female, who either can’t or won’t drive a stick.

I feel sorry for the author if the car guys he’s around really do act like that. He needs to either tell them off or find new friends if that’s the case. That would be better than writing a post about something that is either not happening in large numbers — if it’s even happening at all.

[Images: Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford]

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76 Comments on “Opinion: Journalist Misses Mark With Manual Car Man Editorial...”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I prefer sticks as well but getting older makes it harder and if eventually we all go to EVs then both manual and automatic are pointless.

  • avatar

    For an example of the genre published on this very website, I present the editorial that first introduced me to TTAC:

    Note 1: The post is not quite as simple as the “Manual Car Man” stereotype, and Jack’s writing is much better than Lecklitner’s lame anecdotes. That said, the tone is clear, and the auto transmission availability on the C7Z is a big part of the argument.

    Note 2: I actually agree with Jack in the piece and think the C7 Z06 was a misstep, which is being corrected with the C8.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    I see Lecklitner quoted all of my least favorite people from Jalopnik and managed to inject gender into the issue somehow.

    While I’m not inclined to “think less” of someone who cannot drive stick, I believe it’s inherently better for someone to know how to do something than not.

    That applies to literally any skill, seemingly useless or otherwise. Learned helplessness isn’t something that makes a lot of sense to me and celebrating it is pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      “While I’m not inclined to “think less” of someone who cannot drive stick, I believe it’s inherently better for someone to know how to do something than not.”

      +10. If people prefer or, for any kind of reason, cannot operate manual transmission vehicles, that’s fine. But let’s not pretend that not being able to operate a stick shift is better – or that to know how and prefer to do so makes one an asshole. And gender has nothing to do with it.

      And I’m not obsessed with manuals. But as they disappear from the U.S. marketplace, I find my enthusiasm for cars to be waning. Going auto takes a lot of fun and fulfillment out of driving – at least for me.

      I think Lecklitner reveals a lot more about his own insecurities than anything else in his MEL piece.

    • 0 avatar

      IMHO they were both fine specially Kristen, she’s hilarious.

      Shilling is much worse, ranting about every P/U truck, EV and any vehicle that’s not a buzzy 2008 Honda Fit

  • avatar

    Men are not obsessed with manuals, the evidence is that since 1970 the Corvette has sold more automatics than manual.

  • avatar

    “The automatic cars I’ve owned over the years … my used Honda CR-V …”

    I’m not Manual Car Man but Anti Manual Car Man is doing a good job of living up to his archetype here.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a bit of Manual Car Man in every driving enthusiast who prefers a stick. They don’t think they’re MCM, but have no problem calling an automatic a slushbox. Anti Manual Car Man was not born, but made.

      I’ve owned manuals but now I’m old and shiftless. I also live in an urban area with traffic that can get heavy, and would rather not drive a manual in stop and go traffic.

      My last manual was engaging, and even had a manual choke. My father, born in 1904, learned to drive a Model-T, and explained the engagement needed to keep one moving. That’s an impossible distraction in modern traffic, but the Model-T was really designed for farmers, not urban dwellers.

      Yes, shifting gears has an allure on open roads, but most of America lives in urban areas where it can be a distraction. That’s one distraction too many for most people, who can barely keep their attention on the road with all the distractions automakers are adding to their cars.

  • avatar

    There was a time, which hadn’t quite ended when I first started driving, when the ability to drive stick felt like you were unlocking a power-up. Cars got faster and had better mileage at the same time, and it was more fun to boot.

    But with the relentless development of automatic transmissions of all types (not to even mention electric powertrains) it stopped feeling like a power-up and just became a niche thing that was entertaining. I can appreciate someone who’s developed solid skills with a stick the same way I can appreciate anyone else who’s worked to cultivate a skill. But at this point there is absolutely no way in which a stick car is objectively better. It’s just more entertaining—if and only if you find it entertaining. So judging people for not choosing to use their limited time and mental attention on that particular form of entertainment is silly.

    With that said, I enjoy driving sticks, and although my current fleet has no clutch pedals, I’m going to buy one more stick car before I die.

  • avatar

    So, as a teenager with limited driving experience, Lecklitner tried a manual transmission once, stalled the car, panicked and gave up. What a wuss! Neither he nor you have any idea how disgusted my driving instructor was with my protracted inability to master the clutch pedal. Despite that, I’ve been driving and enjoying manual transmission cars for 60 sixty years even though I continue to make ragged shifts with embarrassing regularity. I’ll admit that, maybe, it’s time for me to move on to more modern technology. DSG didn’t exist back then and I’m interested in a Tesla which doesn’t shift gears at all.

  • avatar

    Back in the days of 2 and 3 speed automatics a stick was a huge performance enhancement. Just looking at an ‘83 Accord 10.5 0-60 with the stick and 15.1 with the automatic.

    Now automatics are faster, so being able to drive a stick is a charmingly anachronistic skill – like being able to ride a horse.

    That said, I’ve had nothing but manuals for the last 20 years and I’ll be sad to see them go. But full range cruise control being able to inch its way forward in traffic is just too much of an enhancement to pass up.

    • 0 avatar

      Heavy traffic? Manuals are the best thing for that. Or you may not be a fan. It’s alright either way, but the less you have to shift, the more you like manuals?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t mind, but manuals have lame, less aggressive gearing, and less gears. That’s why they’re slower, lightning fast shifts don’t amount to much.

    • 0 avatar

      The reason automatics have gotten quicker than manuals is emissions. The computer can play all sorts of tricks with the automatic to wring the most efficiency out of the test cycle while the manual just gets geared higher.

      • 0 avatar

        One consequence of tighter emissions rules is that manual boxes now come with extremely close ratios to even out the load on the engine within the narrow range of speeds experienced in the test.
        As a consequence if you want to keep the engine in its most efficient range, you have to make five shifts to be in 6th by the time you get to 50 kph. . This can be tedious. Then if you need power, you need to downshift to third.
        That said, I still prefer to shift.
        There’s just something about a clutch, I guess.

        • 0 avatar

          Tedious? Please explain. You want a close spread so you’re not falling in between when resuming speed, say slowing to 30’MPH, 3rd is too high and 2nd too low.

  • avatar

    Manual Car Man! I LOVE it! I plan on getting a “T” shirt made up with that logo.

    I must be one of those guys having been driving cars with manual transmissions since 1961.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I advocate for drivers knowing how to learn how to drive a manual for a number of reasons.
    1) It allows them to learn more about the ‘physics’ of driving. How to approach/drive around a curve, how to use engine braking, how to look/plan ahead. They become more attuned to their vehicle and therefore when driving an automatic can better understand how it is operating.
    2) It is a skill and learning a skill is never wasted time. If those people who were ‘victims’ of ‘unintended acceleration’ knew how to drive a manual they would realize that they only needed to put their vehicle into neutral.
    3) It is almost impossible to receive/send texts while operating a manual. Consider that a ‘safety device’.
    4) Automatic transmissions rarely fail now. But what about CVTs? A manual was (is?) generally less expensive to purchase and less expensive to maintain. If driven correctly.
    5) Although automatics may now provide better performance/mpg for the ‘average’ driver/drive, I maintain that driven properly a standard can still provide better performance (downshifting in advance/holding the gear longer/engine braking) and better MPG than an auto. I know it is subjective but from 2017 to 2020 we had 2 identical vehicles in our driveway the only difference being one was a manual and one was an auto and I consistently got better mileage in the manual.
    6) A manual is a proven theft deterrent.

    I sold our MT vehicle just about a year ago. But still plan (hope) to buy one in the future either a Miata or a Corvette. Just for ‘fun’ driving.

    • 0 avatar

      3) It is almost impossible to receive/send texts while operating a manual. Consider that a ‘safety device’.

      Funny, I was having a paintless dent repair on my Focus ST (updated model, unlike the one in the bottom photo) and the tech told me he knew of parents who are looking for manual cars for their teenagers for that very reason. I had never heard of that strategy before.

      And to rant, the scumbag who dented my car didn’t leave a note and the body shop wanted $800 to repair it. The PDR was $250 but I’m still left to deal with a small scratch.

    • 0 avatar

      Just curious… what 2 identical vehicles did you have?

    • 0 avatar

      pretty much agree with everything you said, specially 3 & 6.
      Good to know my wife and I despite being in our 30s know how to shift a stick.

      For the record, we have always had at least one manual transmission car at home and plan to get at least one more

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your reasons, and here’s another: If you plan to rent a car overseas, especially in Europe in my experience, you’d better know how to drive a manual. Heck, a few years ago I ended up with a Buick SUV over there, of all things–and it had a manual.

      I grew up in a car-obsessed town in CT in the 1970s and 1980s, and learning to drive stick was absolutely the norm among all car enthusiasts and many other folks as well. I do think some, especially the BMW crew, resembled the “Manual Man” described in the article. I may have resembled “Manual Man” for a little while myself, because I truly despised automatics for many years. But I tried to spread the gospel by teaching anyone who wanted to learn, even auctioning off stick-shift lessons for a charity event about 20 years ago.

      As dal20402 said above, with manuals being eclipsed by automatics for performance and fuel economy, I think the “Manual Man” attitude has largely disappeared. I haven’t encountered it from anyone in a very long time, possibly not since the 1990s. When manual transmissions disappeared from the non-M BMW 3/4 Series cars, it was clear that era was over.

      Even though MT is rapidly disappearing, many of my friends (all in their 50s and 60s) still drive stick shifts, including some women, one of whom has a Mustang. I had a wonderful drive on a winding road in my 2010 TSX today, and enjoyed all the shifting on a (slightly) crisp fall day with the windows down, cranking the Stones. But now, these drives often prompt bittersweet feelings because they probably won’t last much longer, as I’m likely to go electric for my next car.

      But then I think how great the drive would be in an 86/BRZ with a manual, and I have second thoughts about the whole electric thing. . .who knows?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “3) It is almost impossible to receive/send texts while operating a manual. Consider that a ‘safety device’.”

      Nonsense. As a teenager I was able to shift while holding a big gulp and steering with my knees while rewinding the tape back into my “Guns N Roses” cassette that whatever $#!+box I was driving had just tried to eat and downing a 10 pack of soft tacos from Taco Bell.

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with “lesser’ driver? Just accept it. If you were hired to valet or jockey cars, you would get lesser pay. I’m a lesser welder and hire “better” when it’s a truck frame or something where a booger weld is a bad idea and I don’t feel like a lesser man. Ok a little.

  • avatar

    I much prefer automatic transmissions and I *have* taken some personal slings from folks over the years for that preference.

    But in the end, it’s just internet comments and you’re all just strangers and it’s my money and I like the Supra.

  • avatar

    I’m a manual guy since I got my license at in 1973 – still haven’t owned a car with an automatic. So what? It’s just my personal preference. I claim no superiority over anyone choosing to drive an automatic, not even this knucklehead.

    Here we have a guy who admits he tried something ONCE, got frustrated and failed, and chose not to try it again. That’s fine – but why then berate those who choose the manual option? He’s stereotyping a guy that barely even exists when he rants about “manual car man” (sign me up for the T-shirt if somebody makes it btw, for the hilarity factor). I feel sorry for the guy, he’s got issues that no doubt extend beyond this one rant. Quite possibly brought up in a “participation trophy” environment.

  • avatar

    I just thing manuals cool, have long term durability, lower maintenance cost, and since most Americans can’t/won’t drive them no one asks to borrow my car.

    • 0 avatar

      also 90% less chance to get you car stolen

    • 0 avatar

      This is classic. I had this recently. Hey can I borrow your car? Sure – here is the key. Thanks man. Comes 1 minute later, dude, this is a stick.

    • 0 avatar

      OK, VWGolfGuy, tell us what you know of the VW DSG.

      We’ll wait.

      I’m sure you lump it in with all automatics with respect to “long term durability compared to my manual,” which is hilarious–given that the DSG is built just like your manual trans.

      DSG (and Porsche’s PDK) can make Jesus weep. It’s no less durable, with no more maintenance costs, than whatever you drive. And it is hella fun.

      • 0 avatar

        Those dual clutch transmissions are wonderful, but they are more complex and significantly heavier than a standard manual transmission. They also require a somewhat costly oil change more frequently than a standard MT.

        I’m seriously thinking of buying a Cayman next year, and mine will have a PDK, it’s too good to pass up.

  • avatar

    I don’t look down my nose if someone can’t drive a stick. I look down my nose at them if they drive like an A-Hole.
    As for women, I could care less if they can drive a stick or not. However, they immediately get bonus points if they can drive stick and additional bonus points if they can do it wearing heels.
    As an aside, I have only known 4 women in my life that can drive stick:

    Mom – taught me how to drive both automatic and stick (Dad didn’t drive due to crippling arthritis)
    Oldest sister – she was a 60’s child so most cars were stick shift
    The mother of a female friend in HS – the woman was a school bus driver however, her daily ride was a GMC 2500 lifted 4X4 LWB Pick up with a 4 speed.
    Girl I dated over 25 years ago in upstate NY – drove a red Acura Integra and she could do so wearing heels. Unfortunately, I was a fling while she and her boyfriend were broken up. I do think about those days fondly though.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel like my life disproves ideas about women and sticks.

      I grew up riding in my mom’s stick Chevette.

      My high school girlfriend had a stick Maxima (neat car).

      I dated a couple of girls with stick cars in my early 30s.

      My current wife had a stick car once and can drive stick fine, although she doesn’t love it anymore. She spent plenty of time driving my G8 GXP (my last stick car).

      On the other hand, the woman I spent most of my 20s with hated driving, had little mechanical sympathy, and couldn’t learn to drive a stick competently even after weeks of practice. But I’ve met guys like that too.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        My mother drove manuals for nearly 20 years. My wife can and until this year did drive a manual. My daughter can (just) drive a manual which is particularly difficult for her as she is left handed. My son can drive a manual and got hired at a job because of that skill.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Writing this many words about somebody else’s obscure editorial was a colossal waste of time.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I’ll get slated for this but I stopped reading this fluff-filler piece after a couple of paragraphs. This site is filling up with opinion pieces when I want to read about cars. Dammit, the door hit me on the way out! Lol

    • 0 avatar

      I stumbled across that essay yesterday and stopped reading halfway through because it was obviously just a highly biased hit piece. I did the same for this essay halfway through, and just skipped down here to the comments.

  • avatar

    Well, first of all, if you can’t drive stick then you’re not really a man. This fact is beyond dispute. I mean, if hand eye coordination is not your thing then perhaps you should just Uber everywhere you go. Cars have nasty fluids and volatile gas vapors. dangerous non-vegan stuff, containing huge amounts of gluten, you might break a nail.
    Actually, just stay home.

  • avatar

    Shorter version: Male feminist upset with physically skilled manly men.

    Does expressing casual misandry help get feminist males laid more?

    I used to tell women, “If you can operate a sewing machine, you can learn how to drive with a clutch,” but fewer girls these days are learning how to sew. Apparently it’s sexist to know how to make your own clothes and cook your own food.

    Also, I’ve always found the phrase “drive stick” to be juvenile. Is it that hard to include an indefinite article? Of course, most of today’s high school graduates, raised on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion religion, likely don’t even know what an indefinite article even is. Grammar and spelling are tools of of racist patriarchal oppression, doncha know?

  • avatar

    I feel compelled to tell the author that while your title was intriguing, your blog post was not. You lost me after a few paragraphs of no substance.

  • avatar

    This seems like an article that Mike Rowe might pen. There’s a satisfaction of driving a manual, but it’s not without its frustrations, too. Imagine that… things aren’t all good or all bad.

    Maybe someone should tell Lecklitner.

    My transmission history:
    1st car – automatic (Olds Ninety-Eight)
    2nd car – stick (Nissan Altima)
    3rd car – automatic (530i)
    4th car – stick (528i)
    5th car – automatic (740i)
    6th car – stick (328i)

  • avatar

    Do you have a street address of this guy?

  • avatar

    “When I was a teenager, one of my best friends drove a black Volkswagen Jetta with a manual transmission. He tried teaching me when to press the clutch late one night, but I panicked and stalled. That’s all it took for me to pledge allegiance to automatic cars, and I haven’t touched a gear stick since.”

    Imagine if we all gave up on first try….

    For the record, I learned stick shift when I was 16 and stalled my dad’s Ford Ranger a dozen times. Yes a bit embarrassing at first, so what?

    • 0 avatar

      I stalled a Jeep Renegade at least 3 times. Well, at least I learned that a small turbo engine needs some “primer”.

      • 0 avatar

        Everyone would stall my ’89 5.0 Mustang while trying to look cool. They came with a fairly lumpy cam, but the fuel injection smoothed out the idle.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          When I got my Corvette, the first week I had it I drove it to the Harvey’s (Home of the Hot Ones) where all the ‘car guys’ hung out with the cars. Some looking to ‘race’ (leave your headlights on if you are looking for a race). Pulling into the lot, yes I stalled it. Took a lot of ribbing for that. That didn’t mean that I got rid of the car and gave up trying to drive a MT. Wonder what else he gave up on so quickly?

          • 0 avatar

            I learned manual on my dad’s F250. Granny grunt 1st gear and 4.11 gears with a Fe block 390 under the hood. The clutch throw was long and that 390 darn near impossible to stall. My dad’s R600 Mack was easy to learn.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Apart from citing sexism as the lens through which yet another behavior must be analyzed, the articles (both this one and the one that prompted this one) miss the underlying point: for some the mastery of the machine is the principal source of the satisfaction derived from using it. For those for whom a car is mostly an appliance to get from point A to point B, the source of satisfaction is not in mastering it. Rather the source of satisfaction is how well the machine does, on its own, in performing the task of transportation. Those who view cars in a utilitarian fashion have no use for manuals: today’s automatics are easier to use, achieve better fuel economy and equal or better acceleration as compared to manuals.

    However, for those who seek satisfaction in the mastery of the machine, the manual wins because its use rewards proficiency and mastering it — beyond simply not stalling the engine when taking off from a stop — is no small thing.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    To be fair, I don’t know much about her. But I have nothing good to say about the rest and King twice called for me to be fired after I correctly identified a piece of string as a garage door pull.

  • avatar
    Margarets Dad

    It’s incredible to me that someone who edits Matt Posky for a living would have the nerve to criticize another writer. Editor, heal thyself.

  • avatar

    My anecdote is that I somehow thought manuals were for dudes and automatics for girls. The reason was that my dad could drive one and my mom couldn’t. I recognize this as the naive sexist opinion that it was and could really give less of a fece if somebody can or cannot drive a manual.

    There was a time when I bought manuals specifically because a very particular friend, who is a bad driver – full stop, couldn’t drive it. I didn’t want him to even ask.

    I’ve gone back and forth ever since and have no strong preference either way. I’ve had terrible manuals, my Kia Forte for example, and stellar automatics, my 300S with the ZF8. The rest are strongly midpack and don’t stand out greatly one way or the other. My manual Mazdas are appreciably better than my automatic Mazdas, though the 6 speed auto Mazda currently use could use a touch more refinement because it’s a little slow to react on occasion.

  • avatar

    I choose automatics because I’d be a safety hazard otherwise.

    I can start from a dead stop, even on an incline, without stalling, bogging or bucking—at least once I get the feel of the particular clutch (though admittedly it’s been YEARS since I’ve tried).

    However, there’s the whole “coordination of my right hand and left foot in traffic” thing! Frankly, it doesn’t exist, and never will with me! And I tried learning on 1990s Honda boxes, like my brother’s Integra GS-R! If you can’t get the stick thing down on a Honda of that vintage, you’d better stick to automatics, pun intended! ;-)

    Of course, it’s fun to watch stick drivers adjust when driving an automatic! Back in the days when car floorboards dissolved into base elements with regularity, I wonder how many manual drivers would shove their left foot through the rust, Flintstones-style, when trying to start an automatic car! A buddy of mine is always looking for the nonexistent clutch pedal in his wife’s Edge — and conversely, his wife can never get his 2007 Civic LX started because she always forgets to put the clutch pedal in first. (She’s about at my ability level, and can move the car around in a parking lot if necessary, but coordination isn’t her strongest suit, and her occasional fibromyalgia is also a detriment.)

  • avatar

    There will always be those that have attitude over things like this. Suck it up buttercup. You can’t cancel everyone that throws some shade your way.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I gave my last 5 speed manual 99 Chevy S-10 to my nephew and have not had a manual for 2 years. I miss the driving experience of a manual but I now have arthritis in my knees and feet particularly on my left side and in stop and go traffic it makes it harder for me. Manuals are disappearing and are near extinction which is sad if you really enjoy the driving experience. Having 1 hybrid vehicle and ordering a new Maverick hybrid I will most likely never own or drive another manual which I do miss but age and arthritis make it less enjoyable. Eventually I will likely own an EV and those have no transmissions. I appreciate that there are a few fun vehicles that still offer manuals like the Mazda Miata which if I did not have arthritis I would buy a nice used one with a manual.

  • avatar

    My family and friends and I generally drove manual because we bought strippers. My parents started out on old Chevys and Studebakers, usually with 3 on the tree, and then lots of VWs from the days when they were all 4 speeds. (Yes, at one time, not driving standard put whole car brands off limits.) Later, my dad often came home with the cheapest Corolla on the lot. I’m just one generation removed from the days when the transmission could make the difference of whether you could afford a car. When I started buying cars, driving stick gave me lots of options I wouldn’t otherwise have had, like the $300 Dodge van that got me through the mid ’90s. It also made the transition to motorcycles a lot easier, and I can’t imagine life without bikes. Last of all, I’ve never understood anyone being proud of not knowing how to do something. That’s just weird.

  • avatar

    Lecklitner has a bad case of stick envy and who cares what he thinks

  • avatar
    Old Scold

    I have a vague memory of a TV commercial, maybe from the 80s or 90s, for some kind of sporty car, with quick clips of different actors mentioning its virtues, and one of them was a cute girl who said, “Guys dig chicks who can drive a stick.” Does anyone else remember this or was I in dreamland?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There was the VW Bug commercial in 1969 introducing the semi automatic Bug with an actor dressed up like William Shakespeare “To shift or not to shift that is the option” VW had some great commercials in the 60s before they got full of themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Quite true. VW ads won numerous awards and were used in business schools as examples of how to use marketing to build a brand identity.

      Seems that they lost their way when they switched from air cooled engines.

  • avatar

    Eh, Ian Lecklitner’s article is nothing more than the old Aesop Fable. “The grapes were probably sour anyway.”.

  • avatar

    Pathetic automatic scum

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    Too hard to shift AND work out new TikTok moves, yo.

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