Thursday, February 09, 2012

QotD: Four-Wheeled Novocaine Edition

Seen at Adaptive Curmudgeon:
Once I was at a rental car outlet in Europe when the guy at the counter said “I’m sorry but I have no cars you can drive.”

I wasn’t too sure about the local language so this confused me. (His lot was full of little puddle jumper cars.) He explained “We are out of cars with American transmission”.

“What the heck is ‘American Transmission’?” I asked.

His English wasn’t that great but he managed to say “The cars that shift for you. The ones Americans need.”

I almost died of shame.
When I was shopping roadsters back in '01, the number of Z3s and Boxsters I saw on dealer lots with slushboxes was positively appalling. A Miata with an automatic transmission makes about as much sense as a fishnet umbrella. I was gratified to see that Honda did not deign to offer one on the drive-it-like-you-stole-it S2000.


Anonymous said...

While all but one of the daily drivers I've owned since I was 16 (38 now)have been manuals, I would gladly take an automatic for the type of driving I do on a daily basis.

1-2-1-2-1-2-3-4-1-2-1-2-1-2-1 shifting in rush hour traffic is no fun after you've done it for a few years.

However, it is nice to buy a used manual because you don't have as many hidden problems to worry about.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried to buy a manual tranny car recently in the US?

As a general rule the answer is you can't have one.

There are whole classes of vehicles ( minivans, anything by Lexus) where they are not available at all.

Some Brands have "auto-manuals" or some abomination where they pretend to give you control but the computer basically overrides the driver.

Some US brands will offer them, on special order for the lowest entry level models with the crappy engine too. ( and it's not a very good tranny: 4 gear ratio's, seriously GM?) or some specialty cars like the corvette.

Mini + some German brands will offer them, but not on all the models which is HUGELY aggravating in the case of the Germans because you KNOW they are selling them in Europe. Case in point, try to find a BMW station wagon that's NOT automatic.

Somehow "they are not popular" yet if you try to find one used they sell like greased lightning.

Aggravates me.

JimB said...

Ahhh...Stick shifts.. Love to drive them. A bum left leg took a lot of the fun out of it especially in stop and go driving. The memories linger...

karrde said...

A shame, really.

For all the MPG-increasing that goes on in cars, the slush-box tranny is the most bang for the buck.

(I mean, a six-gear slushbox with a locking torque converter, an electronic controller, and gearing to get the most efficiency at the most common speeds is expensive. A good manual doesn't have as many whiz-bang-cool parts that have been patented, and can be manufactured more cheaply. However, anything with a torque converter is less efficient than the same car with a manual in traffic with lots of stop-n-go.)

Incidentally, that's why used manual-tranny cars sell like greased lightning. Because they are more economical, and there are lots of drivers out there who want a few more MPG out of their next used car.

...or they want a muscle-car with a real transmission.

Ferret said...

This follows with an experience I had while working at a car rental agency where, as one would expect, all of the cars had automatic transmissions. One morning, a woman came in who had just gotten off a plane from Germany and rented one of our cars. A few minutes after she walked out to the car, she came back in asked, "How do I drive this?"

Since my understanding of German was limited to what I had heard from watching Hogan's Heroes, it was fortunate that her command of the English language was much better than many of the people I went to high school with. After a brief conversation by the car, it turned out that she had never in her life driven anything with an automatic transmission in it. Though tempted, I figured it would not be a good idea to give her the '"D" is for "drive" and "R" is for "race"' speech, so I gave her a brief overview of how to operate the vehicle.

However, when she turned on the key and pointed with a questioning glance to the "Air Bag" light that flashed momentarily on the dashboard, I had no real answer since air bags in cars were a brand new thing back then. We had to refer to the manual for that one.

Anonymous said...

I had to wait 6 weeks while the dealer found a stick shift Tacoma v6. If nobody wants them why do they sell out immediately when they arrive in a dealers inventory?

Anonymous said...

I remember riding in friend's first-generation Acura. It had an engine that would happily rev to 7500 mated to a transmission that insisted on shifting it somewhere below 3. Gahhhh.

Set & forget automatics are good for some uses, but small frisky cars aren't one of them.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

I generally prefer manual transmissions, but these last couple of weeks I was really glad that my new car is an automatic. Working a clutch with a gout attack making my left foot effectively useless would have been almost as fun as putting my shoe on that foot was.

Anonymous said...

Also, getting manual transmissions on some cars these days actually costs more. When did that happen?


Anonymous said...

"Have you tried to buy a manual tranny car recently in the US?"

How recent? In 2006, I bought a 2003 Toyota Camry with a 4cyl and 5spd manual. I happened to stumble across it by accident for a great price, so I bought it on the spot (needed a newer car anyway).

As for efficiency, some newer automatics are delivering better numbers than the manual transmissions in the same car. The current Mustang V6 gets better gas mileage with the 6spd automatic. IIRC, the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times are either the same or only a very tiny bit slower (probably within the delta between drivers).

On foreigners and manuals:
A Brit I was working with in the UK recently admitted he preferred an automatic in the US because it was one less thing he had to think about while driving on the wrong side of the road from the wrong side of the car. :D

In the past 22 years, I've owned:
72 Beetle (manual)
93 Toyota Paseo (manual)
97 Toyota 4Runner (manual, still have it)
1995 Nissan Altima (auto, long gone)
2003 Camry (manual)
Pontiac Grand Am (wife's car at marriage, automatic and ate transmissions)
2007 Honda Odyssey (automatic, duh)

My DD is the 4Runner, but I'm planning on replacing it with a 2011 or newer Mustang V6 auto when the time comes. Faster and better gas mileage than the 4Runner.


Stuart the Viking said...

like a few other commenters, I have a little arthritis in my hip (well, both sides really, but the left one is germain to the discussion) and for years I drove a manual. I only had problems when I would get caught in heavy traffic (usually on the way home from work). By the time I would get home, I had trouble walking into the house. Now I just go ahead and get the automatic, as much as I would rather have the manual.


Cowboy Blob said...

Guilty! I arrived at the Munich Airport in 1985 and at the Sixt Renta-Car place, they gave me an Opel Kadet with a stick. Yikes! I'd only started driving a couple years before and I'd never been trained on a manual transmission. Fortunately, my sponsor came to the rescue and drove it to the Kaserne for me, then gave me lessons driving around the Commissary parking lot. I still wasn't comfortable with it; when I got my first new car, I factory-ordered what most would call an abomination, a Mustang GT with an auto. I've since graduated to another Stang with a 4-speed.

K said...

Meh. Love my auto... used to drive a stick years ago and hated it. Wouldn't drive one now if it was given to me.
I've over trying to prove how cool I am by doing archaic things with machinery.

DirtCrashr said...

Went to the rental counter in Munich and were told that all the little, cheap cars were gone and they would have to upgrade us if we could drive a stick. Evidently there was a HUGE convention at the Monster-Munich Convention Halle and all the buisiness-droids on limited-expense accounts had the toy-cars - so we got a BMW530i. It could have been a Benze coupe or an Alfa but when asked about driving it I smiled and pointed my thumb at my wife and said, "She has one just like it at home."
Parking garages in Euroland tend to be in the City Zentrum, usually underground the actual Zenter-Platz itself where ArchDuke Willifred deGrace was kaboodled in 1743.
As a rule, the space is very confined and built like a Nazi bunker, with many concrete pillars and boot-high curbs that are covered in rubber and paint marks, smoothed to a polish after years of vehicles that dragged against them, and with parking spaces measured in half-millimeters. I was lucky to have spent some time already in such a dank, underground environment when I was washing cars for a rental agency in Vienna, and was careful not to ding or touch anything on the Beamer - and when we checked-out in Hamburg the official with a clipboard was clearly unhappy to find not a scratch on the car that they could write-up and bill us.
But really, Americans rubbber-necking around the Continent full of strange habits, road signs and incomprehensible portents and good beer may be better-off with an automatic since that's one less thing to worry about on the road to Corvara. Unless you're on a motorcycle, then the whole world changes...

Bram said...

For the first and last time ever, I own a car with an automatic. No big SUV's out there with a manual. In a few years the kids will leave and the dog will die and I'll be back to a manual - maybe that Miata.

My wife's BMW is a manual and that was a pain to find. When her Saab was wrecked a few years ago we tried to find a new one with a manual and just gave up. Eventually BMW came through.

David said...

As the owner of a "drive-it-like-you-stole-it S2000", I'm glad you noticed that it isn't even offered in an automatic. I think that was a great decision on Honda's part to keep the car a pure sportscar, too bad they've gone downhill since then with their "sports car" CR-Z hybrid drivetrain with gutless CVT transmission option :P

I'm fine with autos in big(ger) vehicles with large engines. For instance, my friend's mid-90's Mercedes E400 sedan was a dream to drive, even with an auto. But they suck in small 107hp Civic w/manual is WAY more peppy than my sister's 125hp Civic with an auto.

Rick C said...

I think about buying a manual sometimes...but as people pointed out above, 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2 isn't something I wanna mess around with. I have spent most of the last probably 15 years in rush hour city traffic and don't really want to mess around with shifting constantly. (Also, at city speeds--my current car shows the average MPH since the last time the battery was disconnected as 25MPH--how much fuel economy can I get in a regular car or minivan for the increased attention I have to pay?)

The second thing is, though, since I don't know how to drive stick, I've got a bit of a chicken and egg problem--nobody I know has a manual, and I'm certainly not going to run out and buy one without already having more than the ~10 minutes experience I have with them.

Anonymous said...

Darling daughter purchased a 1994 Camaro with the 3.4 V-6, T-tops, and a 5 speed manual. It took some time but I was able to teach her to manipulate the shifter with some authority and skill. Along the way she became conversant with vehicle dynamics, smooth operation, proper curve arc positioning, proper driving in snow, etc.

Here in Colorado we have some excellent driver's roads where she can take advantage of her acquired skills. She can make that little Camaro dance and sing through the mountain passes.

She also consistently outshoots me with my .45 at the range. Darn it!

She's 19.


Sherm said...

We sent my youngest to college with a manual Volvo DL wagon. No one ever wanted to borrow her car since they didn't know how to drive it. She found it an unexpected benefit.

RandyGC said...

Was once TDY to the Nellis ranges and was picking up my rental at LV Airport. Low end econo-box (Fiesta maybe?) not sure if it had A/C and AM radio... with a 4 1/2 hour drive through the desert to my hotel and a 3 hour drive each way over somewhat improved roads to my duty location each day.

Started to get load up and noticed it had a manual, Hmmmm...

Went inside and (I have to admit, lied) told them I couldn't drive a stick. Got up graded to a Thunderbird with GOOD A/C, comfortable seats and a good stereo for no charge as there were no auto shifting econo boxes left.

Oh darn.

Kevin said...

My '11 Mustang is a six-speed manual. My '88 Mustang was a 5-speed. My '67 was a C-6 automatic. My '99 Ranger was a manual. My '09 Tundra was an automatic - you couldn't get a stick with the 4.7L V-8 (damnit).

My wife refuses to learn to drive a manual. My daughter INSISTED that I teach her how.

Having said that, being stuck in rush-hour traffic with a Nautilus machine for your left leg is not a pleasant experience.

Tam said...


"I've over trying to prove how cool I am by doing archaic things with machinery."

If you think I give two flying fucks whether you or anybody else thinks the transmission in my car is "cool" or not, you must have just started reading this blog this morning.

Tam said...

Cowboy Blob,

"...when I got my first new car, I factory-ordered what most would call an abomination, a Mustang GT with an auto. I've since graduated to another Stang with a 4-speed."

Truthfully, in V-8 pony cars, I don't mind an auto at all. With all the torque down low, the car doesn't much care what gear it's in.

Especially on GM F-bodies, the high belt-line and heavily-assisted steering make them feel (to me at least) more muscle-car than sports-car, and so the TurboHydramatic felt right at home in my Trans Am (as did its transverse-mounted offspring in my V6 Fiero, which always felt more like a 5/8-scale Trans Am than a 3/4-scale cut-price Ferrari...)

Woodman said...

Mostly manuals in my car history. The Minivan of UnManlyness is an automatic.

My oldest's first car was a stick, 1988 Ford Festiva, I'd just driven it into the dirt and parked it for three years when she needed a car. She learned how to drive a stick on a 20 year old car with a brand new clutch, it also had some occasional weird aspirating issue that would suck about 90% of the power out unless you really slammed the foot feed and slammed it into gear, sometimes.

When she started looking for a college car she wanted a 2 door, sunroof, manual. She had to settle for an automatic. All the decent manuals around Pendleton get fart pipes and wings, or knobby tires and a light kit. In either case they get thrashed to death. There was a definite gap in the model and year line-up in the area.

Nothing small, no manuals, no hatchbacks, no foreign, very few unwrecked.

My wife's car is a New Beetle manual convertible. Frankly, anything smaller than a K car needs to be a manual, especially if it's convertible.

Matt G said...

Early on I swore that I would NEVER own an automatic. I've had a couple of slushboxes in my life, but they were on burner cars that weren't intended to last long in my possession.

Nowadays? I'm a dad, and I'm focused on other stuff, like that Super Big Gulp. I'll likely make the next car be an automatic, if I can ever get the wheels to drive off of that Honda.

Mikael said...

I've always kinda wondered about americans, you love your cars, you love to drive, but on average, you don't seem to be that good at it. (Of note: the USA has three times as many annual traffic accidents per capita as my country, that's +200%).

I live in sweden, we have about 4-6 months a year of ice and snow(potentially nov-april, at least dec-mar)... minimum driving age is 18, and a car skid training course is a requirement part in getting a drivers licence.

JD Rush said...

We are full of nanny state fools who crap their pants at the thought of teaching skid control. People might go out and be hooligans with that knowledge. Better to just roll it in the ditch than be forearmed with knowledge and the ability to save your life.(Am I talking about guns or cars here?)

Yrro said...

@Mikael - I'd be curious to see what % of people drive in Sweden, and how many miles. Most of the Swedes I've known didn't even bother getting their license. You've got a bit of self-selection going on.

I currently drive a '00 Celica GT-S with a 6-speed - love that car for fun and gas mileage. I am already dreading the day when our family gets big enough that we have to go to a minivan or 7-passenger station wagon, though - I haven't found anyone selling those with a manual even as an option.

Ken said...

I'm going back to manual (Lord willin' and the creek don't rise) in my next car. A 5-speed makes even a 2000 Chevy Cavalier sort of fun to drive.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the biggest travesty, last I checked, is that a automatic is the default trannie on a new Corvette. WTF?

Says the guy who drives a minivan.

Someday...I'll find that F250 crewcab with the 7.0 Powerstroke and a manual...for less that the cost of a house.

El Capitan said...

There are some manuals I really, really liked, and wished I'd kept. The 5-speed Veedub GTI and the Dodge Ram pickup were a lot of fun, and pretty much bulletproof.

The '70 Plymouth Duster with the three-on-the-tree? Not so much... I can only hope that Satan is assigning that wretched POS to newly arrived commuters in Hell who've cacked it while texting on the freeway.

Anonymous said...

My dad tried to teach me on a 60's Nova with a three speed on the column. Grade F

Did learn by driving a friends Sciracco to Montreal for vacation which was a fun car to drive.

The only thing I drive these days with a manual is made by Massey Furgeson.


Rob Reed said...

A manual transmission is great until you have a knee inury. We had two Saturns with stick shifts (a sedan and a "sporty" coupe) until my wife injured her knee and had surgery. Ever since the surgery driving a stick for more than about 15 minutes causes her pain.

We wound up selling my car (the "sporty" one), giving her car to me, and buying her one with an auto tranny. (We couldn't sell both since we wouldn't have gotten enough to replace both).

Now we have one of each and her borrowing my car is an issue due to the knee pain. When it's time to replace mine, it'll have to be with an automatic, so we can both drive it pain free.

I will miss it, but there are some advantages to a self shifter.

Tam said...

Rob Reed,

It's interesting all the different ways my original post (about how sad it was to see automatics in small two-seat sports cars) has been interpreted in comments. :)

Garrett Lee said...

Auto vs manual is like wheelgun vs autoloader, Tam.

docjim505 said...

I reduced my wife to tears trying to teach her to drive a manual, with the consequence that, when it came time to replace my trusty five-speed Civic, I had to get something with an auto.

But my Fit has these little paddles so I can at least PRETEND that I'm still actually controlling the transmission...

Don M said...

I drove all over western Europe in a Fiat X1/9.

A pickup with a auto trannie is an abomination.

Anonymous said...


I get it about not wanting a manual in constant stop-n-start heavy traffic. ( I don't mind but that's just me, I just wish the automatic drivers would stop cutting into my car length ahead of me.) Or people with various disabilities finding them tougher/impossible to drive.

Also I will acknowledge that modern state of the art auto's are as efficient as manuals under most conditions.

What I don't get are the statements about how the constant shifting is exhausting to the clutch leg. I've got to imagine that your clutches have some serious (design? Maintenance?) issues if they are that hard to depress. I'm not in any great shape and I could pump that thing all day on my old Subaru and not notice ( though it took me months to not jam on the brake (automatic clutch reflex) when I stuck in an automatic.

Am I missing something?

As to two seater sports cars, other than the Mini Cooper S ( which is theoretically not a 2 seater, snort) which had oodles of up front room they seem to be uniformly designed for the sub 90% height bracket. Hence, yours truly can't sit in them. Seriously, in a Miata I can barely slide in and I look OVER the windshield. SLK I can't fit in at all. Z3/4 I can fit but it's awkward as hell.

So I'm still looking for something manual. Used, new...

Robert said...

My wife can fly a helicopter, but cannot drive a manual trans car. WTF???

Keads said...

The daily beater is a 5 speed manual 1994 Mustang. The other *ahem* older ones hanging around here are automatics.

I have an anomaly it seems in more ways that one. I have a 2002 Jaguar X-Type in manual (think I do anyway, its at the northern command center).

If nothing else I view the manual transmission as an anti theft device!

Anonymous said...

My sister bought an RX7 with an auto trans. back in the '80s. She had a rare medical condition that would sometimes prevent her from driving a manual, and yet she wanted a "sports" car, so... -- Lyle

Eck! said...

Been driving a crashbox for over 40 years and no plans to stop.

Yes, a pickup with a slushbox is badness at the extreme.


Justthisguy said...

One of the reasons I bought my F-150 was that it has a clutch I can work by myself, thankyouverrimuch. The other reasons are that it is rear-wheel-drive, has rubber mats instead of carpet, and manual crank-em-yerself windows.

Oh, sorta on-topic: Please see:

I somehow think the cartoonist is describing one or more of the inhabitants of Roseholme Cottage.

Lanius said...

Dunno... I found it far harder to learn to drive safely than to use the stick shift..

It's not trivial learning how to use it, but the douchebag* ex-cop who ran the driving school managed to teach me stick shifting in about two hours, and after a dozen more hours I even managed to learn how to avoid making the engine die when the the green light appears..

Now it's all second nature, I don't understand how anyone can claim it distracts them.

*never happened to me, but a couple of other guys he threatened with one of those fake pepper cartridge guns that are all the rage here among people too lazy to get a permit..

The only reason he is still in business is that he doesn't need any repeat customers..

Justthisguy said...

P.s. I miss carburetors. It is impossible to smoothly double-clutch a downshift in the F-150. I have control over the throttle butterfly, but not the injectors. I hate cars with minds of their own, and all uppity robots.

Justthisguy said...

P.p.s. Remember those car alarms which yelled at you, "Step away from the car!"?

We don't see them so much any more. I reckon there were too many people like me, who felt insulted by that and immediately kicked the car in one of its tires, making it go OwOwOwOw. I really do hate uppity robots.

WV: rebash. Why, yes! Anything worth bashing once is worth bashing twice.

Darrell said...

Learned to drive in a '63 VW Bug, and it had a four speed manual. Great car to learn with. Of all my cars since, just one has been an automatic, a Dodge minivan. I then got another small car with a five speed manual, and had to learn how all over again. Manual ftw when driving in the mountains.

Justthisguy said...

Oh yes indeed Darrell, engine braking when all else fails. I am old enough to remember drum brakes, and brake fade.

Anonymous said...

My wife drive a 93 (?) VW Eurovan with a 5 cyl engine and a 5 speed manual transmission. The thing is rusting to bits but she keeps having new steel welded onto it because she can't find anything with comparable space and a manual transmission.

She can shoot and she loves darts and beer too!

Standard Mischief said...

>It's interesting all the different ways my original post (about how sad it was to see automatics in small two-seat sports cars) has been interpreted in comments

Hey! That's my cue to start talking about non-syncromesh gear boxes and how only real drivers know how to double-clutch!

Garrett Lee said...

Standard Mischief,

Why bother? If it's non-synchromesh, it's probably a three-speed (of which you only use the 1st for starting off), and you just put the clutch in and coast until the car speed's low enough for shifting back into 2nd... Yeah, it annoys people on the highway behind you, but so what?

Besides, you only need the clutch for starting off too. Don't bother with it, just match revs and your clutch lifespan becomes much longer! It also makes transmission work easier for the shop, as you replace everything together when the clutch wears out! No disassembly! :)

Oleg Volk said...

Not being able to drive manual transmission is like not being able to operate a caplock rifled musket. Hardly relevant to people who enjoy the results (ability to go places) more than the process of driving.

Tam said...


"Not being able to drive manual transmission is like not being able to operate a caplock rifled musket."

Until you're standing someplace and the only vehicle choice you have has a manual transmission.

An adult human being in a motorized society should have at least the rudimentary skills of operating a stick shift, riding a motorcycle, and realizing that pulling back on the stick makes the sheep get smaller...

Anonymous said...

+1 Oleg said it much better than I.

You know Oleg, for someone who is not a native English speaker you have an outstanding command of it.


PS Though just for the record I can drive a stick and own and shoot a flintlock. ;) NJ

Tam said...


I'm going to visit Oleg and park my car in the middle of his driveway, behind his garage door.

When he has to leave the house in the morning, I'm going to come down with a case of hypochondriasis and toss him my keys. We'll see how unimportant and archaic driving a stick shift is then... ;)

Justthisguy said...

Pulling back on the stick makes the sheep get smaller, until the wind in the wires sings "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and the sheep get bigger.

Tam said...


"Pulling back on the stick makes the sheep get smaller, until the wind in the wires sings "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and the sheep get bigger."


You get a hundred free comments as silly as you want in payment for that gem. :)

Justthisguy said...

I have actually loaded and fired a caplock rifled musket. It was fun, and the smell was wonderful.

I'd hate to have to fight a battle with one, as you have to stand up to load the thing, which makes it easier for the enemy to shoot you.

Anonymous said...

One of the funniest memories I have is about a 90 degree turn done on two wheels of a VW Bug down a residential street in the late 80's. This came about when my friend, the car's owner, shouted "slow down" & I heard "speed up" as we approached the intersection. (Yellow 1974 VW Bug, stick)

I agree that manuals can be difficult for the novices & I'm glad I learned how to drive one. But, in LA traffic, a manual is just a pain. Besides, neither my Mom nor my wife can drive stick, so I've been forced to get automatics, anyway. But, I hear that FIAT has a manual 500 available..... :-)

Ulises from CA

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Want to teach someone how to drive a stick? Rent a Wrangler, find a field, and put it in 4WD low range. Let them drive around for an hour or so.

Most people get frustrated driving away from a stop.

Back in the day, I sold over 300 Suzuki Samurais which only came as a five speed. Had to teach many of my customers how to drive a standard.

Jayson said...

Yeah, all this "manual is the only way" crap gets on my nerves. Any car maker needs to realize that when they put out a car I want in manual only, they just told me they don't want my business.

They don't make hand controls for manuals. And for the record, I can still out-drive most people. I live on wheels, after all.

An adult human being in a motorized society should have at least the rudimentary skills of operating a stick shift, riding a motorcycle

As for that nonsense...I'll let that slide this time.

Anonymous said...

Can't even google "tranny" anymore without gasping in horror.

Joseph said...

Does this mean Americans are shiftless?

Skip said...

Dozers, track hoes, scrapers, etc.
All heavy dirt movers are autos.
I took the four speed out of my '57 Chevy, C-gas and put in a B&M hydro.
Picked up ET and MPH.
The Zed might be fun to drive, as is my Harldley but one does accumulate the niceties of life as one approaches geezerhood.
Just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Tam said:

" . . . Until you're standing someplace and the only vehicle choice you have has a manual transmission."

. . . and you have a freshly smashed up right hand with two spirally-fractured metacarpals, one in four pieces, one in three, each held together by four screws, a wrist joint that needs six weeks to recoup, and the number one and two knuckles of all three middle fingers on said hand need six months to recover from being bent in multiple directions they were never intended to be bent.

Then you get to not drive for six months. And you fervently wish you had an automatic tranny so you didn't have to beg a ride everywhere, or walk. Even though your stick-shift is hooked up to a 2.4L straight six with a four-speed that does 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, can chirp the tires in first and second, and sounds like an old XKE. :-)


Larry said...

The Mustang has an automatic. It also has a top that folds down and 412 horsepower*. If I wanted a hunter I'd have got the hardtop and 6MT.
The Subaru, on the other hand, has a stick. I can drive them, I just choose not to on warm sunny days.

MSgt B said...

When I was shopping for my 350Z a few years back, I noted that the automatic transmission was an "option".
Then I went to a dealership and ended up having to order it from out of state.
Every 350Z at dealerships in my state and all the states adjoining it had auto transmissions.
Sportscar FAIL

Buzz said...

Fool already mentioned the Wrangler.
Apart from the ones serving in neutered shame as unglorified soccervans, the Wrangler crowd will demand our beloved mountain goats always be readily available sans fluid shearing propulsion.

Tam said...


"As for that nonsense...I'll let that slide this time."

Doctor's notes will be accepted.

Tam said...


Yeah, yeah, like I said, doctor's notes are accepted.

I couldn't operate my motorcycle the summer I spent in a wheelchair. (Not so much because I was in a wheelchair, but because the Suzuki had been reduced to a 3' square cube of multicolored light-alloy scrap.)

Spud said...

My wife surprised me on our last car purchase and insisted on an automatic. Up until that time she would not drive anything but stick. Bout had a heart attack on that one! She has been driving her 68 Mustang Gt with a 390 every since 69. That thing has a super T-10 with a clutch ya need a bumper jack to push it in.
Seems that at 66 yrs. old she finally wants something easier to drive lol. We still have the Musdog tho. Does mean burnouts...

perlhaqr said...

Bought a 2010 Jetta TDI Wagon after a drunk took away our '04 Jetta TDI Sedan. Finding one with the 6 speed manual was really difficult.

Had to fire a salesdrone along the way. He insisted that the gee-whiz-bang semiauto DSG transmission was really cool and I should just try it blah blah. Being the sort of person who reads car magazines, I know how cool the DSG is, but I wanted a manual. Went inside, found the manager, asked him if he had any sales people who were capable of listening to the words coming out of my mouth. "I. Want. A. Stick. Shift. The End."

And then they tried to add $2k to the sticker for it being diesel, and another $2k for window tinting. I bought elsewhere.

Ruth said...

I had to laugh at the commentary.

I miss my '91 civic with a manual tranny, I really do, but after multiple knee injuries to both knees I didn't argue to hard when they told me the only Caliber's they had on the lot were automatics. My husband has never driven a stick though, so god forbid something ever came up, I'd be the one doing the driving!

Mike W. said...

I'm ashamed to say it, but I can't drive a stick. In fact, I've never even tried.

My dad sold his Z3 just before I got my license and I simply had no car to learn on.

Anonymous said...

My daughter learned to drive an automatic at school, mandatory driver's ed. When she finished, I told her "You AIM an automatic, you DRIVE a stick" and took her out and taught her to handle our five-speed.

An excellent driver...I could sleep in the shotgun seat while she drove.

cap'n chumbucket

Oleg Volk said...

Tam, I can just push your car with my bumper...sideways if necessary. V8 in low gear is enough for both vehicles :-)

There's that old line from Quigley: "I said I never had much use for these, not that I didn't know how to use them." Being able to run stick shift can be very useful in the Third World, same as being able to dial up with a modem -- for an emergency. But wasting time and effort running manual transmission instead of watching for traffic...I run manual cameras but I admit that for most people the results are quite adequate with automatic and I don't make fun of those who aren't interested in making the right camera settings their end goal.

Anonymous said...

Auto vs. Manual, AR v. AK, Harley vs. Honda, all the same crap arguement. You like what you like and get whan you want.

All I learned from your post is that driving a stick shift is just another way Europeans can pat themselves on the back and feel like they are just that much better than Americans. That is the one unifying culture of Europe: showing how much better they are than Americans.

If Europe's economy lags behind ours, it's noT their fault, Americans work too much. If they don't have a high quality of living, it's not their fault, Americans are greedy and buy things they don't need. If their countries get bombed by terrorists, it's not their fault, the US gives too much money to Israel.

This guy was being rude to you because (Western) Europeans are raised to be rude to Americans.

Woodman said...

Not This..."Auto vs. Manual, AR v. AK, Harley vs. Honda, all the same crap arguement."

This is a question not of which do you prefer, but a skill that should be learned. I made sure my oldest could drive a stick for two main reasons. One, if for some god awful reason she had to kick her boyfriends ass she could drive his car home if it happened to be a stick. Two, if she ever needs to borrow a pickup truck she won't also need to borrow a driver.

She liked driving one, which made it all that much easier.

This is more along the lines of Automatic Can opener vs. manual one. Or starting a fire with a magnesium stick or with a lighter. Or being able to read an analog clock instead of a digital. Reading a map instead of a GPS.

Useful needed skills don't have to replace something easier if you don't want to, but you should be able to do it on your own ideally.

Tam said...

Oleg & Anonymous 12:48,

F- for lack of reading comprehension skills. :p

1) Whether one's car is an automatic or a manual, having at least the rudimentary ability to operate both is valuable.

2) On a tiny car that gives up luggage and passenger room, a plush ride, and weather sealing in exchange for mechanical enjoyment and interaction with the operation of the vehicle, an automatic transmission makes as much sense as... well, a third wheel on a bicycle.

An urban pedal trike will get you to and from the grocery store just as well as a two-wheeled bicycle, will not tip over at stop signs, and will carry more baggage to boot. And yet something is lost in the translation, which is why you don't see many carbon-fiber 18-speed streamlined racing tricycles.

Oleg Volk said...

having at least the rudimentary ability to operate both is valuable. - TRUE

On a tiny car that gives up luggage and passenger room - But the original post was talking about rental cars...those tend to be utilitarian in purpose and usually intended for average drivers.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

My inability to properly drive a stick is a little shaming, I admit, yes. I know the concepts but have logged less than 5 miles in a manual. I never had the opportunity to learn on one. All the cars around me were automatics.

If your Beemer was blocking my driveway I could drive it out of the way. I'd have to use my hearing protection because you screaming "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY POOR CAR YOU SONOFA!..." would be distracting. I would apologize profusely, after.

Anonymous said...

Tam said:

...but because the Suzuki had been reduced to a 3' square cube of multicolored light-alloy scrap.

Yeah - done that a bunch of times.

But how in the heck did you manage to get such a big cube of scrap. Mine always tended to be somewhat ... smaller.

And not quite so much ... well ... cube-shaped.

Okay, yeah, I was probably going a lot faster, but still ...


DOuglas2 said...

"having at least the rudimentary ability to operate both is valuable"

Two points:
I've read that parents who are disciples of the Kiplinger Personal Finance "it is cheaper to buy your kid an older car than to insure them to drive your own car, and you want them to drive a lot so that they gain that skill while still under your discipline" school have suddenly this year grokked that if you give them a manual transmission they don't have a hand free for texting while they drive.

In the most recent "unintended acceleration" kerfuffle where the "trained police driver" was obviously unfamiliar with the concept of brake-fade, I began to wonder how any driver could be ignorant of the "if it is going and you don't want it to go, get it out of gear" concept. I wonder if lack of manual-transmission experience is to blame.

Seerak said...

I've owned only sticks since my Honda CRX in 1990. Back then, 1 out of 3 cars sold were stick. Nowadays, I dread the day my current 5-speed Honda hybrid dies (2005 was the last model year of AFAIK the only stick hybrid) and I am unable to find a manual within my specifications.

GreyLocke said...

And the comment spammers strike again.

I learned to drive on a 64 Ford 9N tractor, then moved up to a 1967 Ford F-100 with a 3 on the tree, then shared a 1972 VW Super Beetle 4 spd. First car which was just mine was a 72 IH Scout II 196 CID with a 3 spd, then I got a 1974 Ford T-bird 302 CID Auto, 1975 Buick Century 350 CID Auto, 1979 Pontiac Sunbird 151 CID 4 spd. 1976 Olds Cutlass S 350 CID Auto, Then I got my 86 SAAB 900 2.0 Liter H engine 5 spd, that gave me 40+ MPG. I currently have a 98 Grand Caravan, 94 GMC Suburban both automatic and a 2000 Chevy S-10 2.0 Liter with a 5 spd. I prefer the S-10, but with kids I spend more time driving the Dodge or the Suburban.

Will said...

" Whether one's car is an automatic or a manual, having at least the rudimentary ability to operate both is valuable."

Am reminded of the tale of the man who died at his backwoods weekend cabin. He suffered some sort of debilitating injury, and his wife couldn't drive his stickshift Jeep.

I remember being astonished, since this was at least 30 years ago that I read about it.

Will said...


I think many of the newer automatics will not let you take it out of gear while the vehicle is moving, and won't let you downshift if it is out of the programmed speed range for the gear. Plus, they won't let you kill the engine while moving. Safety reasons, don'cha know.

Justthisguy said...

@Will: I mind stories of man and wife flying along in their airplane, and then man drops dead from heart attack, and woman doesn't know what to do, so they both die. This is the kind of woman who had every opportunity to learn how to fly the airplane, or at least work the radio, but decided to skate and be a tourist and ride that male guy.

My Dear Dead Mom was like that woman in Proverbs, or Tam, not the silly bimbos who pass for wimmenz in America these days. She taught me how to trim a model airplane when I was a kid. I betcha she could have figured out how to work a full-sized airplane, just from observing.