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Driving a clutch with ONE foot?

I have a friend on Facebook who swears she learned to drive a manual transmission with ONE foot and drove that way for 21 years. Here’s the convo:

HER: “I used only my right foot when I had a stick shift. I drove a stick shift for 22 years. Didn’t get my first automatic transmission until about 10 years ago. Just lift up on the gas, press on the clutch and shift, then lift off the clutch and put the foot back on the gas. It only takes a couple seconds when you’re used to doing it. It must be being taught differently now, but I swear, I learned to only use my right foot.”

ME: “How do you start going in first gear without your foot on the clutch? You can’t take your foot off the clutch before putting your foot on the gas or the engine will cut out. There is no lead time.”

HER: “I just talked to my mom and she said that yes, she taught me to drive using only my right foot and that’s the way she always drove a stick. She even remembers hitting me on the right arm every time I tried to use my left foot when she was teaching me. It took two years to get it down.”

My question to you guys: Is that even possible?

It is possible, but I don’t know why anyone would want to drive that way unless absolutely necessary.

I suppose that if the idle speed were set high enough, one might be able to shift this way. This would have to have been back in the days when cars had carburetors and the idle speed could be adjusted. It might have been possible in a Packard with its electric clutch, or a Hudson equipped with “Drivemaster”, or a Chrysler product that had a fluid coupling between the engine and the clutch. This would have been a long time ago, however, because the Hudson discontinued Drivemaster in 1951, the Packard electric clutch was gone in 1950 and the last Chrysler product that had the fluid coupling was the 1953 models.

You could never start on an uphill grade unless the vehicle was equipped with a hand throttle…There is no reason to do this unless the driver only had one leg…

Maybe if this friend were cloistered in some backwoods community that time forgot, far from the rest of society, I could believe this story. This might work out on the rural plains where there are no hills or traffic. But for 21 years? She’s either yanking your chain or clinically insane!

I agree, you could never start on a hill with this method unless it was a diesel pickup in low-range.

The first gear thing might be a stretch and I’m assuming they mean shifting with no gear gnashing going on. Grab a manual transmission vehicle and ask her to show you how it’s done.

Thanks, everyone!

If I could have her prove it, I would. (She lives 4 hours away.) I tried it myself before I posted this today. There is NO way I could make it work. …or maybe I like my car too much.


For starting out in first gear…you can let the clutch out…then once it gets going…for the rest of the gears you can shift without the clutch…but I assume this isn’t what she was talking about.

I’m with caddyman…I see no reason to do this.

Possibly with a hand throttle or manual choke. Wouldn’t be very good for the vehicle!

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is how dangerous it can be - you need the right foot for the brake pedal. Right foot - brake & gas. Left foot clutch. I don’t care how “talented” one gets with the same foot for clutch/gas. You must still have a foot for the brake.

When I teach people how to drive a stick we start out not touching the gas pedal at all, just using idle speed and letting the clutch out slowly enough that it doesn’t kill the engine. Once my pupil gets the hang of the friction zone of the clutch, then he or she is allowed to give it some gas.

The only way this might work on a routine basis is downhill or on level ground, and floating gears after that, and I agree it’s unsafe to only use one leg since it keeps you from pressing the clutch and the brake at the same time.

I wish that my wife had been able to do this when she broke her left foot. She tried to depress the clutch using one of her crutches, but that didn’t work. She had to resort to using both crutches on the clutch. In other words, she had to resort to double crutching.

The closest I would think to being able to do this successfully would be on level ground or down hill or a car old enough to have a dash throttle. Otherwise, someone is pulling your chain. Obviously it’s someone on face book who can’t prove it to you.

Well… I know her, she just doesn’t live near me right now.

Thanks for the great answers. I was sure there would be a final “NO WAY” kind of answer, but it looks as if it is possible to do what she said, so… bummer.

This could be a topic of conversation for many years - something you could share and laugh about. In particular, I think you ought to ask if she ever learned to use both feet? How difficult was the re-learning process?

Endless side trips!

This is easily possible with a Model T Ford that has a hand, but no foot throttle control.

There wasn’t a clutch in the Model T. You had the brake, the reverse, and the low gear/high gear pedal. When the low/high pedal was halfway down, the Model T was in neutral. Once you had the engine started, you depressed the low/high pedal all the way down for low. You let it all the way out for high. You pressed it halfway down and stepped on the reverse pedal to back up. The throttle and spark controls were on the steering column.

A Model T’s left pedal functions as a combination clutch and gear selector. The pedal disengages and engages the transmission with the engine. That is what a clutch does.

"ME: “How do you start going in first gear without your foot on the clutch?”

"HER: “I just talked to my mom and she said that yes, she taught me to drive using only my right foot and that’s the way she always drove a stick.”

Your friend has been driving stick shift vehicles for 21 years but needed moms help to answer this question? Collectively they failed to answer your question. You should ask her again and ask why this technique is practiced.

The fact that it’s “a friend on Facebook” telling you this means you can safely ignore it. The fact that the “friend on Facebook” told you it took two years to learn tells you it’s worthless, even if possible.