Young Driver Tells Her Story: How to Drive Stick

Fun listen about teenager, new driver. She needed to learn how to drive stick, and fast. Had some challenges … lol … Heard this past weekend on NPR station, Moth Radio Hour. 3rd story, “Shifting Gears”.

I learned to drive a stick on a neighbors VW beetle, an old, air cooled one. My Uncle Ben, said “this is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. When you want to shift gears, step on the clutch. Let’s go”. Not a skill ive ever found much need for. I never taught my daughter, as i doubt she’ll ever need that skill.

I don’t recall having much trouble learning to work the clutch either. Just needed some practice to figure out the right amount of gas pedal to clutch position to get car gently moving in first gear is all. Hard to explain, like hard to explain how to balance a bicycle on two wheels, but easy enough to do w/practice. Shifting after car is already moving is no problem. Teenager had difficulty getting car to move in 1st gear from stop. Either stalling engine, or screeching clutch. She could get it to move smoothly from a stop in reverse gear only … lol …

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I’m one of those people that can drive about anything and my wife and I taught my son, now 34, how to drive a stick shift, he even took his driving test in a Civic 5 speed the day he turned 16, funny thing is he has owned many vehicles over the years but says he will never got ride of the 5 speed Civic that was his 1st car… Now my daughter, now 22, can drive the heck out of a car (they both can) and I would put her up against any non professional driver and she can probable out drive them… But when I tried to teach her how to drive our 5 speed she would miss a gear or something and slam on the clutch AND the brake pedal’s about bouncing me off the dash, then I, as a very supporting father, would start laughing and she would start crying… :rofl: :rofl:
She has since driven her brothers manual but she had rather stick to her automatics… lol

And yes I can drive a 3 on the tree… I have even rebuilt a few 3 on the tree steering columns…

I learned to drive on a 1974 F-100, with the 3 on the tree (also manual steering and brakes). Figured it out mostly in about 30 minutes, it’s not rocket science. After learning on that, every subsequent vehicle I drove was comparatively easy to drive. I still do prefer a manual transmission in cars. Two of my three vehicles are manual.

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O learned to shift gears in the 1954 Buick my parents owned when I got my driver’s license at age 16. The transmission was a 3 speed with the shift on the column. First gear was not synchronized. I could double clutch and shift from a higher gear into low without crunching the gears.
The other car my parents owned was a 1952 Dodge with the “lift and clunk” GyroMatic. The car had s clutch which was depressed to put the car in reverse, neutral, low range or high range. Once the car was shifted into high range, the driver accelerated to a speed above 12 mph, let up the accelerator, there was a “clunk” and the transmission shifted into direct drive. Once underway, the clutch didn’t have to be depressed. It drove like any other automatic except for releasing the accelerator to shift. There were two speeds in the low range as well. For faster acceleration from a stop sign, one could start off in low range, let up the accelerator and the transmission shifted to second. Then depress the clutch and shift to high range. While the Buick with its V8 engine certainly had better performance and more fun to drive, the Dodge with its GyroMatic was the car I preferred on a date.

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Well I couldn’t find the story but wasn’t the moth an old time radio mystery show in the 40s? At any rate we had straight sticks and I watched my dad show my sister, who was four years older, how to drive. So at 11 or so I was driving up and down the driveway with the help of a sears catalog to be able to see. Too short a driveway to get out of first and reverse though.

My wife was heading to Norway and had to rent a car which were all manuals. We got the only manual at the Buick dealer and practiced for a couple days. A little jerky but she managed. Not too good on hills though.

Yeah I figured I could drive anything except a model t. So rented a dc7 or something to do some grading. No one ever told me they don’t have brakes but did manage to put the blade down.

I’m 70 and have driven manual transmission cars, trucks, and motorcycles all my life, and still do. When my daughter was 10 she asked if she could drive the pickup around on a dry lake where we were camping. Because she had been observing me drive as she grew up, she had it down pat the first time she tried.

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lol … as a kid I had two good neighbor friends, two brothers, 6 & 8. 8 year old got a bicycle for Christmas, but it just sat there in the garage until July, he never could figure out how to ride it. 6 year old decided he’d give it a try when big brother not looking. I was there, I explained how to do it, he rode it away the first attempt, never a problem, then we gather up some coins & off we go together on bicycles to the candy store. Big brother complained and complained little brother was riding his bike. Parents said little brother can keep riding it until big brother learns. The little brother & I would ride “our” bikes to school every day, for years. I don’t think the big brother ever rode a bicycle.

Click on the link right at the top of the first post. Then xcroll down a little, it’s the third audio segment titled “shifting gears” . You can either listen to it directly there, or download all the segments as an mp3 file (download link near the top) and listen to it later. I didn’t find the other segments particularly interesting, probably best to just listen to only that segment by clicking the button on the web page.

My first try was in a 65 Chevy 3 on the tree. It did not go well. The second manual car was a couple years later. I test drove a 72 Datsun 510 4 speed, bought it and drove it home. Never told the seller I hadn’t driven a stick much. She didn’t even care to come along, just threw me the keys for the test drive. I’ve had a bunch of manuals since. 2/3rds of all the cars my wife and I have owned were manuals.

I tried teaching her in the 510 (she had a 510 automatic…) and later my Starfire (like a Monza) but she didn’t do well in either. She really wanted to drive our 71 Saab 99E… so she successfully learned on that one. Her next 3 cars were manuals.

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Our 58 and 61 chevys were manual. Don’t remember if the lark was manual or not. Might have been. But my Morris was my first car and manual, and my vw was my second car and manual. My third car, the Pontiac was automatic and never had a manual since. The girl I used to trade off driving with had a manual so we’d stop at her office then I would take her car through heavy traffic to my office. It was really hard on my knee pushing the clutch in all the time. Something about the bench seat and clutch position that I never had a problem with before with bucket seats.