Question of the week: Manual or automatic transmission?


Love the photo. You could almost use the trunk of the Fury for a garage for the Omni.


I thought someone would surely point out that torque, horsepower and power to weight ratio plays into this. I have mostly automatics, because that’s the only way they were built. In a powerful cars, an automatic is great, especially when frequently in stop and go traffic. I do have a manual TR7, but the little four cylinder has less than 100 horsepower, so a 5 speed is necessary. The same goes for the '83 Nissan Pulsar NX that I bought new. It was a 5 speed. It was a lot of fun. Manuals are fun and entertaining when you can go somewhere and actually drive it. Oh, I learned to drive when I was 12 in a '50 Dodge Coronet, flat head six and a fluid drive transmission. Most people have never heard of fluid drive, but it looks like a three on the tree, clutch included. The interesting part is that you could come to a stop in third gear, without pushing in the clutch, then you could slowly pull away in third gear, never touching the clutch. It made it easy and forgiving to learn to drive a manual without all the bucking when forgetting to put in the clutch. Remember, I was only 12 and the car was 6 years older than me. So, my bottom line is that it really depends on the car. I like both, for different reasons.


It’s all a personal choice. I have been driving since 1957 and have had manuals and automatics. I love both. With the new computer aided automatics, I will never no back to a manual. I have a 1940 Ford resto-mod with a 4L60E. I pull a 28’ travel trailer with an automatic. It is fun to shift a manual, but in this day and age unless you are road racing, I don’t think it is practical. You can program an automatic to do anything you need except compression braking. Just my opinion, not meant to offend anyone.


@dws92642 - The 4L60E has helped change my opinion from all automatics are bad to only some are.

I agree that Automatics have thier place. I really like having one in my work truck (‘98 chevy with an 8’ box) but when it comes to my “fun to drive” car it’s all manuals.


I do see it from your point, a lot of people can’t seem to understand it though.
Honestly, most adults (18 to 35?) don’t know enough about operating a clutch to make it an option for them.
They lie yes, but I haven’t looked at a new car since around 1993 when I got a Escort that had a 5 speed behind a V6, but was shown auto’s until I said I was not interested in an automatic. But yes, was not wanting to let me try it until I looked at a soccer mom ride with everything, I was headed to the door to leave when another salesman stepped in.
My son steers clear of them, even in a truck. Wife would rather stab a clutch than try to do a burnout in an automatic. And then the dealer incentives for selling high dollar stuff so they can make a small fortune on one car a month…yeah, program cars have a manual, AM radio & Cassette player suddenly becomes a $400 option
No one can seem to come up with the option to have a clutch set up complete for hand controls. With the tech available now I really can’t understand why the shift on the fly 4,5 or 6 speed has not been done yet. A buddy of mine growing up is a hot rodder from a young age, he had an accident, and his relief in the whole deal was that he was going to drive again, the bane of it is he’s stuck with an automatic-and reminds me that driving is not a spectator sport.
We’ve tossed ideas around how it would work, and we never got it past the drawing board and it’s a 1320 thing at best, hard to steer, palm operated assistive clutch, R lock out, and a floor shifter…and there it sits. No one really interested except a couple ancient drag racers, and that don’t get you put in 1 of 32,090 vehicles at about $5k.
And yes, some things can happen so fast that you don’t even realize that your life is changed forever, your not gonna be doing certain things until you sit, defeated somewhere, and come to grips with adapting. Like my wife did about 30 years ago. And the Big 4 car makers in America (whoever they are) are not going to be able to meet your needs beyond $Blah blah at signing, and $Blah Blah a month for Blah Blah months.
Oh don’t get me started with dealers…I used to hang out at the local MOPAR house in my “formative years”. I know, should of been at the library studying, but I was learning math there :wink: !!!
Watched many folks walk out smiling ear to ear, but with a /6, 4dr. automatic in baby food yellowish …tanish …off something Imperial bad color choices. But I asked one to take my bicycle on trade for a 68 Road Runner, and he was actually calculating my paper route money and trade in value. There not nuts, but they are not sane! I believe they are greed driven.
What “we” collectively don’t really see coming down the road is why they steer you away from the “CLUTCH PEDAL” rides. Someone is counting and organizing the data, and I’d really like to know what goes on/gets said behind closed doors.
And the sheep heard his call…and their autonomous Toyota took the next left and followed the lemmings…land fill next left
And someone, somewhere, at sometime, somehow believed that we could rid America of the internal combustion engine and all the…lets just say “stuff” that goes with it, and get it done by 2050. I better be dead by then, or they will kill me trying to drag our baby off to the impound. I am not willing to give it up. Period.
It might take us a little longer to find that line you’l be in, hold us a spot right behind you, and yes, I have a plan…


I prefer manual transmissions for many reasons.

  1. I can repair a clutch or gearbox myself, I cannot fix a bad automatic, and automatics are more likely to go bad.
  2. Manuals are more fun to drive, and I prefer choosing the gear myself.
  3. Manuals are less likely to be stolen because many thieves can’t drive a stick anymore.
  4. I can roll start a manual trans.
  5. When buying a new car or truck, manual transmissions are usually cheaper.


I learned how to drive a manual in my cousin’s 1970 (426?) Roadrunner in the 70’s. Everything after that was easy. Currently have a 2000 BMW Z3 Coupe, an 02 Mini Cooper S, 99 Miata and 77 Fiat 124 Spider, all manuals. Wife has a 6 spd 10 Mini Countryman. We had one automatic, an 03 Honda Element EX-S where the transmission went up at 216k and while researching a repair on that found an 05 EX-S 5 spd so I’m set. The VTEC with the 5 spd makes for a very different driving experience.

I’m in the MD/DC/VA area and encounter almost gridlock often and the manuals are a non-issue. I really don’t get what’s hard about it, granted you do need to know how to drive ;^) I daily drove my 1967 Porsche 912 as a network repair tech in the DC with that long throw 5 spd shift mechanism and it was a piece of cake.


Real hot rods have 3 pedals. I do prefer an automatic on my everyday car…freeway traffic jams are a daily encounter out here.


I prefer manuals over automatics…I feel bored just sitting there…getting both feet and hands to work, listening and feeling the engine keeps me focused on the road and in touch w/ the driving experience. It also helps me keep my reflexes and eye/hand coordination sharp. And what else do I have do while I’m sitting there…groove to the music!!! If I miss something I hit the rewind button!


@wcorn6837 I don’t see power/torque and weight playing much of a role in whether a manual is necessary. How responsive or entertaining maybe…but not “necessary”. Even your TR7 was available with an auto.
And I disagree that learning to drive a fluid-drive car was a substitute for learning how to drive a clutch.


I have an automatic in all four of my classic cars. The '68 cougar has a built C4 with a 2200 stall and the valve body mods that allow me to upshift/downshift when I want. Trust me a built auto can be EVERY bit as much fun and allow you control of shifts while at the same time allowing you to put in drive and just let it do the work for you. Besides, a built automatic shifts quicker than the hands any day of the week. I thought about at least converting the '68 Cougar to manual, and then thought better of it the last ride home from work in Metro Atlanta traffic.


Living in Hudson Valley NY, but driving through the 5 boroughs in traffic can be annoying when driving a manual car, but everything has it’s ups and downs. I presently only have an 85 Fox Body…for now, but its a manual, and I would not purchase any muscle, sports or classic car unless its a manual transmission. I love manual cars, I love it when you’re on a slight hill and you can manipulate the clutch and gas to cause the car to “rock” back and forth. I love the actual look of the shifter in the car, it feels like it adds character to the car. I love downshifting the car with the compression slowing the car down. I love the sound of the engine when downshifting. For me manual transmission makes driving more fun because you’re more involved. The only way I would buy an automatic is if the car only came in automatic(like a Buick Grand National) or finding a manual transmission for that model is extremely rare and expensive.


I hear you, but my factory console, factory auto with the t handle auto shifter poking through that console and the different color lights letting you know what gear it’s in are cool in another way. If it came with a stick, then I would gladly drive it. BUT with the gridlock around here, it would have to have a diaphragm clutch, as a Borg and Beck style that would hold the power she’s making wouldn’t be fun. Of course living in NY, you know all about gridlock. See, I wouldn’t own a fox body 'stang without a stick as I HATE the Ford AOD trans that came in the auto stangs back then, and the t5 was a pretty good trans in those cars.


Definately manual for any sports car or toy. Greater connection with the vehicle. Personally , i like to choose my shift points and many of the autos with manual option will override your lead foot and shift. Manuals also offer better handling in corners and save your brakes.

The only time i prefer auto is in traffic jams.


I have always loved the manual trans. To me it is truely driving the car. All 5 of my current Corvettes are manual trans. My wife drives the C6 and C7 and insists on manual only. Our daily drivers are automatic and they have their place. I once owned a 1978 Indy Pace Car Corvette with a/t but didn’t enjoy the car equipped that way and let it go after a short time.
I began driving at the age of 8 in my family’s “junk yard” in the 1950’s. Once I mastered releasing the clutch without creating a bucking bronco I would cruise around the 60+ acres of roads with a 3 on the tree or long stick on the floor. I spent many months in 1st gear before managing my first successful shift. At that age depressing the clutch put me on the edge of the seat stretching and barely able to see over the steering wheel. I can still remember how proud I was at the time driving a Henry J or 1940 Packard or ‘51 Plymouth convertible. Don’t think I got my hands on an automatic for a few years and was bored when it occurred.
The 1st car I owned (at the age of 20) and still own today is a 1962 Corvette with close ratio 4sp and 4.11 r/e gears. I have never grown tired of driving this car and my experience with it has been the foundation for always choosing manual trans equipped sports cars. Even in reverse the car has a unique sound and feel when in motion that will never be duplicated in modern era vehicles. Enough said.
I hope the manual trans will somehow survive and be available in future vehicles for us that love the experience.
One final point. I once made the mistake of participating when asked to drive my ‘62 Corvette in a parade. It was torture and nearly qualified me for a left leg amputation. That day I would have loved to have any other convertible with an automatic transmission!


Both! I learned to drive in a 1937 Chevrolet Master 85, 3-speed manual. My first car was a 1929 Ford Model A 3-speed, non-synchronized, manual. Over the years I’ve had both and spent 9 year seeking my 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pagoda to get a 4-speed manual. Later I bought a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280S S Sedan with the M-B 4-speed automatic that my wife would agree to drive. So why? The manual transmissions are more engaging for the driver IF the driver appreciates that level of engagement. Practically speaking, in the past 20 years the automatic transmissions provide better performance, better fuel mileage, and less driver fatigue. So…my vote now is to go for the automatic: with DSG automatics, tighter torque converters/fluid couplers, and paddle shifters the joy of “manually-controlled” shifting is still possible for an engaged driver.


Cannot imagine trashing my 2010 ZR-1 clutch and gearbox on a Dallas freeway during high traffic times so there I would choose the Auto. But then here in my town you can always enjoy shifting-up or down. Standard for me.


Echoing all others, “it depends”. Roadways, use of vehicle, etc. Daily driver? Automatic. 20th Century Sports, Performance or Muscle car? Manual. Truck? Depends on the usage! 21st century car? Automatic. I have all configurations. My spider is a manual. My 21st Century Mercedes is an Automatic. My hybrid? Automatic. My Bronco? Automatic, but would have gotten a manual if I could have found one! My Classic 35 foot Airstream Aluminum Motorhome? Please! Automatic!


My weekend preference

  1. I can leave the keys in it because very few teenagers can drive one. But I prefer a t-model. It has 3 pedals but no gearshift or gas pedal. I like being one out of ten thousand people who can drive a model t.