Rare Rides: A Like-new Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe From 1988

Check out these two words: Turbo Coupe. They roll off the tongue nicely, and all car enthusiasts should know exactly they mean — or used to. In 2017, they usually mean someone with a mullet is nearby, driving a beat-to-hell Thunderbird with peeling logos and ruined paint. Likely while listening to Whitesnake.

Our example today is what the term Turbo Coupe used to mean. It is perfect, painted a gleaming black, and on the floor there’s a five-speed manual. Here I go again…

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Don't Worry, the Next-generation WRX Will Keep Its Manual Transmission

When Subaru launched the fifth-generation Impreza with a CVT, a collective sigh of relief was heard after enthusiasts learned it would still provide a standard five-speed manual transmission. However, it didn’t guarantee that the next incarnation of the WRX wouldn’t abandon the clutch pedal to maximize sales and minimize zero to 60 times.

After all, most people don’t purchase manual transmission vehicles anymore and the WRX already comes with a CVT. It would be easy for the automaker adopt a dual-clutch as a pricier option on sporting Subarus and leave the variable tranny in the base trim. Nobody was so worried about it that they lost sleep on the matter, but there was just enough doubt to have us all occasionally wringing our hands.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Plymouth Voyager With Five-Speed Manual

The original K-platform-based Chrysler minivans, built for the 1984 through 1995 model years, sold like mad, helped kill the station wagon, and forced the competition to get serious about selling minivans in the United States. Buyers could get the 1984-95 four-cylinder Caravan, Voyager, or Town & Country with a five-speed manual transmission, though few did.

Here’s the first 5-speed second-generation Chrysler minivan I have ever found in a wrecking yard.

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Junkyard Find: 2004 Saturn Ion Sedan With Manual Transmission

The Saturn Ion is one of those cars you still see on the street today, perhaps not enough to notice, but it’s of minor historical interest as the Saturn-branded cousin of the Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5.

Most of the time, the Ion is just background noise to me in the GM section of a big self-service wrecking yard, something I pass by while looking for a Cimarron or Reatta. However, I had heard that the Knoxvegas Lowballers 24 Hours of LeMons team had adapted Ion electric power steering to their mid-Duratec-powered Geo Metro, and I was curious as what this alleged steering column-mounted rig looked like.

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2017 Ford Focus Hatch Loses a Pedal

It disappeared in the night. There was no fanfare. No protest. No grand announcement. Barely anyone even noticed. They all just kept buying amorphous transportation blobs with available all-wheel drive. No one took the time to look at the options list on the compact car bolted to the dealership floor.

That’s right. In the United States of America, the 2017 Ford Focus hatchback is no longer available with a manual transmission outside of the ST and RS.

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Piston Slap: The Aston Martin of Ford Mustangs?

Bill writes:

I am considering adding a fourth car to my family fleet, and I’m seriously weighing the options between a new Ford Mustang GT coupe with a manual or a 2005-2008 (or so) Aston Martin DB9. This would be a car I would drive around 3,000 miles per year.

In anticipation of your first questions, my other cars are a 2004 Honda S2000 AP2, which I plan to keep forever, a 2013 VW Touareg VR6 and an utterly original 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL (W 126) with just 113k miles. I can afford, within reason, higher ownership costs associated with a luxury GT as long as the engine doesn’t have to come out of the car for service (like seemingly every Ferrari before the 360).

It looks like a DB9 coupe with under 30,000 miles can be had for around $45k or so. I’d love to find a manual gearbox but they are rare.

Please give me three good reasons why I should run to my local Ford dealer and find a ‘Stang. Or not. Thank you!

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Camry Wagon With Five-Speed
Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
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Not So 'Standard' Anymore: The Manual Transmission is Almost Dead

We knew it was happening, but the actual extent of three pedal abandonment remained somewhat elusive. It was more of a feeling than a grim statistical representation. Now we have a number, and it’s dismal.

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Subaru Announces 2017 Impreza Pricing, Gives Six-Speed Manuals the Finger

Subaru has coughed up how much the all-new 2017 Impreza hatchback and sedan will cost.

The new Subies offer a few surprises in regard to pricing, especially on the higher trims, and a shocking loyalty to the five-speed manual transmission — an increasingly rare beast in the automotive landscape.

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX
There was a time when many American buyers of family sedans — particularly European family sedans — ordered their cars with manual transmissions and didn’t think such a choice was a big deal or weird in any way.Those days are gone, forever, but a trip to your local U-Wrench-It yard is likely to turn up something like this 22-year-old B4 Passat, complete with VR6 engine and five-speed manual transmission. We’ve had trucks for our last four Junkyard Finds, so it’s time for a car!
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Ferrari Officially Abandons the Manual Gearbox

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

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

Goodbye, gate.

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Junkyard Find: 1996 Nissan Maxima GXE, With Five-Speed

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard.

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Piston Slap: Extraneous Engineering Fallacy, Factory Performance Models

Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’m anticipating that my 1997 Subaru Legacy wagon, with 210,000 miles on the clock, will need replacing soon. I’m lucky in that my wagon is a five-speed manual with the 2.2 EJ motor, so it has been fairly bullet proof. I’ve been looking around at affordable commuter five-door hatchbacks (Mazda3, Impreza, Focus, etc) to replace the Legacy as the replacement needs to be able to fit multiple kids and sports gear, as well as be my daily driver (~45 miles roundtrip work commute).

Here is my question: I would like something a little sporty as more than half of my commute is on fun, twisty, back roads.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Dodge Aries Station Wagon

Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.

The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.

Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago.

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2016 Honda Accord Sport 6MT Review - High Expectations

Quality of life is about making the best of your surroundings. There isn’t a car on the market today that reflects that ethos more than the Honda Accord.

After years of growing to make room for smaller models in the lineup, the Accord — which has gathered accolades as the most reliable choice in the family car segment for decades — has skipped having a midlife crisis, and is still playing like a kid. It would be easy to say the Accord has always been a favorite for us, but as the competition improves, we wanted to come back and give the Accord another go.

Here’s what we learned after several days of puttering around southern California in the Accord Sport, the value-priced model that hits the sweet spot of what you have and what you want.

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  • Beachy Asphalt only works to keep the dirt road below it dry, and it is the dry dirt that holds up the asphalt surface to make a smooth road surface. Once the asphalt cracks or a spring wells up and the dirt gets wet, all bets are off. It is usually due to a spring that perennial potholes form. They are very hard to get rid of.
  • JamesG I’m the owner of the featured car that’s currently on EBay. Thanks for such a nice write up on these cars. Mine happens to be in excellent condition and the photos don’t do it justice. The HT4100 isn’t as bad as some made them out to be and they can go 200k miles with proper maintenance. I also own a 79 w/the analog fuel injected 5.7 350 which should have been used through 1985 but ever-increasing CAFE regulations called for more economical power plants which made GM shelve this great motor.
  • Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars recently bought a pristine 71 Kenosha Cadillac.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY-G2dExgXE&ab_channel=RareClassicCars%26AutomotiveHistory
  • Jeff S Wouldn't most of the large suvs in NYC be livery vehicles? If so that would be hurting those who make their living by driving for hire.
  • EBFlex Yes their mass transit is great if you want to be beat within an inch of your life or pushed onto the tracks by some random psycho.