Why drive a manual?


Our school librarian was a dyed-in-the-wool manual shift driver, and the last car that I can remember her driving before her retirement was a mid-late '70s Chevelle. The shift linkage would bind-up and jam at least once a week, but her mechanic showed her where to hit the linkage under the hood in order to get it working again–albeit for the short-term. What a piece of garbage!


@VDCdriver. I lived through sticking 3 speed column linkages on my 1955 Pontiac and my 1965 Rambler. I figured out how to manuever the shift linkage rods under the hood. My 1947 Pontiac, 1948 Dodge and 1954 Buick had easy shifting linkages. My brother had a 1963 Buick LeSabre with a 3 speed column shift and it shifted well.
The 1965 Rambler soured me on the manual transmission. I like driving a manual, but I want it to shift crisply.


Even though she didn’t normally use tools, the Librarian learned to carry a good-sized wrench in order to HIT the shift linkage in the exact spot that her mechanic directed her to. She had to do this on a frequent basis, and when she asked her mechanic what it would cost to fix it, he informed her that there was nothing he could do to improve GM’s garbage shift linkage design.


@VDCdriver. There might have been a fix for the librarian’s car. Floor shift conversion kits were available to bypass the column shifter. My brother had a GMC pickup made in the 1970s. The column shifter broke and he was faced with either replacing steering column or going to a floor shift. The floor shift route was much less expensive, so that was what he did


Originally, I just didn’t care for the way an inefficient drive system like a fluid coupling or torque converter compromised the performance and fuel efficiency of a vehicle. Now that many automatics have locking torque converters, it’s mostly that I have a strong K.I.S.S. bias.
(keep it simple, stupid!)


An update to my experiences with different transmissions

I grew up driving the family’s 3 speed Corolla. Crap was too polite of a description. that torque converter slipped until you take it beyond 50. Any uphill climb is either droning in 3rd or screaming in 2nd. The 4 speed Echo that replaced the corolla wasn’t much better. That torque converter only stay locked above 35 when you’re on the throttle. Every time you reapply the throttle, you get the slipping sensation before the torque converter locked up again.

I’ve owned 2 stick shift cars in the past and always enjoyed the immediate response of a solidly connected clutch and a properly matched rev downshift. I never understand why people find it painful to drive a stick in heavy traffic. The clutch pedal in my last car was so light, easy to push they made it out of plastic.

After we had our twins, me and the missus were discussing a 7 seat minivan and she wanted an automatic this time. after the insurance settlement with our old car, we got the van with a 6 speed dual clutch transmission and it is the best automatics I’ve ever driven. I love the immediate response when I put my foot on it; the 1.5L 4 banger doesn’t make much power before the turbo spools up. On our last road trip it managed 38mpg, which is amazing considering the Corolla barely managed 30mpg.

Granted, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Unlike a conventional automatic with a slipping torque converter, you cannot slap on the throttle and watches it accelerate. Lift the throttle abruptly and your head dips forward. You have to touch the throttle and smoothly ease in and out as you would driving a manual. For people who are used to driving a manual, the dual clutch is a liberating, albeit expensive option.


Or as trump says let Manuel drive.


Marsha, Marsha, Marsha… I think everyone here offered very valid reasons for choosing a manual transmission. What is often not seen or understood is a closer relationship between the driver and the vehicle. If I ever decided to unleash offspring into this world of ours they would learn how to use a manual transmission and or learn to ride a motorcycle on the dirt before ever reaching the street.

I have taught a very large number of people how to use a manual transmission. Each time I taught someone it began with a drawing that I always use…it shows in simplified terms what is happening and why when you operate a manual transmission. This educates the driver on the mechanical aspects of the car and makes them better more attentive drivers. No doubt about that whatsoever. In order to operate any machine properly you need to know what is happening, how and why…it cannot be Witchcraft or Voodoo in their minds as this does no one any favors. Personally I would not operate a vehicle if I did not understand how it functioned, I think not understanding how a vehicle works and driving it anyway is a form of insanity. I could go on and on about that, but…

I would also teach a new student how to operate a jack and change a tire, not only is this important, it is also quite empowering. Mechanical knowledge is empowering. It relates to a great number of things in life that you would never imagine, it is very far reaching into your personal life.

I think everyone hit upon the other aspects of the manual transmission and they were all correct.


I agree that knowing how to properly operate a vehicle with a manual transmission is a useful skill

However . . .

I think it’s improper to criticize a person who knows darn well how to drive stick . . . and has done so for decades, and might even do so for a living . . . for choosing a vehicle with an automatic as their personal ride

maybe those people don’t crave the feel of the road, or that enhanced connection to their vehicle, because they’re already doing it at work, or they’ve done it all their lives, and don’t have anything to prove to themselves or anybody else, for that matter.

Please note that when I mentioned criticism . . . it encompasses not only this particular discussion, but also some other recent discussions


Good point @db4690. I thought we were only answering the reasons someone would want to drive a manual trans vehicle.

I’ve had more manuals than autos and each have their place that is for certain. Sometimes it is indeed nice to relax and cruise…and I do so when its that time.

I like choice its only when choices are taken away do I start getting weird.


Many years ago I drove the homecoming queen in a parade in the only .convertible available to me which was a new Dodge with a high performance 383 and a 4 speed transmission. My left knee has been painful for 50 years due to that 2 mile trip riding the clutch to creep along with the band.


I have also owned many more M/Ts than A/Ts. The only A/Ts I hated were the 2 speeds. Ford-O-Matic and Chevy PowerGlide. Yuck!


@sgtrock21 I think you may be inadvertently dating yourself with that comment there my brother! LOL I would wager that a few here have no idea of which you speak.


I know what he speaks of, yet I’m only 44. Amazing that we’ve gone from 2 speeds to 10, though. I still think 6 is kind of the sweet spot.


Here’s an opinion that newer manuals are bad


Even automobile preferences have become self righteously tribal. Ain’t life great these days!


I think the 4 speed hydramatic of 1939-1960 was flexible enough, and I think I’ve just dated myself also


He makes some good points I guess. But if you’re paddle shifting an automatic…well, is it still behaving as an automatic if it’s in “manual mode”? The lines are kind of blurred with the newer automatics. There’s just no 3rd pedal, of course. But you can select gears. Which is what I liked about a manual trans in the first place. So, I’ll stick to what I originally said. 5 speed manual > 4 speed AOD. 4 speed manual > 3 speed auto. Multi speed autos with paddle shifters may be just as good as the newer manual transmissions. I hope so, because it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a newer vehicle with a manual.


I see the opinion as based mainly on the ‘automating’ (or maybe dumbing down) of MTs in an attempt to squeeze out a few more sales.

And I select gears (without paddles) in my automatic too, and often do, like limiting it to not going into OD when going down a steep hill.

Yet no automatic, paddles or not, seems to offer the same range of control as an (old?) MT.


I read that article twice and I must admit… It made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. You can write an article to explain your point of view to be correct…simply by bastardizing the criteria that you are using to make your point. That is precisely what was done in that article. This tactic has been around since…well…a long long time.

I kept reading the article to try and grasp what criteria he was using and if you read it carefully the points he is trying to make only cater to how he feels about what others use to judge the manual. Where are his points to prove? Ever write a thesis paper dude? If he had Im certain he got an “F” on that paper. I feel like I need to read it again because I still cannot pinpoint many if any of his criteria. Simply put, I “feel” this author is a complete and total moron. He has “proven” nothing with more words than I usually use in my posts. The only thing I can do at the end of this article is shake my head in confusion. So…well done guy…you have literally just wrote 4 pages of absolutely nothing. I honestly do not see his point, let alone feel he proved it even though he should have been able since it was his criteria that he had to meet.

A horrible piece of writing in my opinion…and since I am using my own criteria to judge the article…you can all agree I proved my point with no need for argument…right?