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Will stick shifts become extinct? Not on our watch

In 1952 at age eight the car guy bug bit me. After weeks of pestering, Dad finally let me drive his 1948 Pontiac 4-door sedan with “standard" shift. We stopped at the 300 acre parking lot at Santa Anita race track and he asked if I really knew how to drive. I assured him that I had observed for years and was sure I knew how. He went to the passenger side. I slid behind the wheel with a wedge-shaped cushion to help me reach the pedals. He offered no instruction.

With a nudge of the floor-mounted starter, the big flathead straight eight started immediately. I pushed in the clutch pedal, eased the column mounted shift lever into low gear, let out the clutch and we leaped two-feet, ending with a rough stop and dead engine. There was no comment from Dad, so I restarted the engine and tried again with the same result. It seemed there was a secret to clutch operation not easily learned by watching. After several rough starts I learned to apply throttle and get moving with smaller jerks. He never said a word.

This experience led me to spend 15 minutes with each kid, grandkid and great-grandkid showing them how to use a clutch so they won’t have the same problem.

I taught my son and two daughters, first in my forgiving 1990 Nissan Maxima (“4 Door Sports Car”) and then my 1967 Jeep when they were ready for more of a challenge. My boy couldn’t be really a driver until he could drive a clutch and my wife and I didn’t want our daughters to ever be stranded somewhere just because they couldn’t drive one. Turns out most of the boys their age couldn’t drive a manual !
Currently, three of my four cars are manual; the only A/T is my first car, a 1957 Olds 88.

Eventually the old manual transmissions will only be on collectible cars. Just like carburetors manual transmission are destined for the junk heap of automotive engineering. At one time auto trans was an expensive luxury option and was though out of most of my life. Fuel injection was at one time an expensive option along with power windows etc. Now EVs will have no shiftable transmission except throwing the motors into reverse. Electric vehicles are not only the future but more than likely the immediate future. It won’t belong before EVs dominate the roads and gasoline operated vehicles will go the way of the high buttoned shoe. In fact one may need a special permit to drive one especially here in California.

Yes there will always be collectors of old cars just as they are now. In the not so distant future young people will be fascinated as to how those old fuel combustible engines work. Just think a 2020 gasoline powered Mustang or Camero will something only seen at old car shows and old car auctions. Things are changing at an ever faster rate everyday. So if you have an old manual drive rig hang on to it to show to your grandchildren and great grandchildren. They will be impressed even if they are not old car hobbyists. Only the daring will attempt to drive them. Talking about learning how to shift with a stick? This upcoming new generation will not even have to learn to drive period. It’s the near future and no one can stop. However we can all reminisce. That’s all one can do in a fast moving society of change.

In response to dkcfinancial, you can push-start an automatic, IF it was made before 1960! Most of those old slush boxes had a rear pump, and if the battery died but the generator still worked, you could get a friend to push you fast enough to spin the driveshaft which turned the pump which spun the torus (early term for torque converter) which then turned the engine which rotated the generator to supply the coil with enough voltage to fire the plugs! My second car was a 1959 Chevy Brookwood wagon and it taught me to be a better motorist because if I neglected to check the water in the battery on a regular basis, it would be dead on a regular basis.

When my knees say “NO MORE”, I’ll find a doc who will give me NEW KNEES!

I’ll never stop driving stick. I have more automatics than sticks but that’s because the guy who ordered the car new , ordered a Powerglide. Be that as it may, my 1959 Bel Air still has it’s original 3 on the tree. Someday I hope to install an original 3 speed Overdrive Transmission. All the perks of a 4 speed but still have a place for the cup holder.

I had to wait an additional 3 months for my new Mazda 3s Grand Touring to be built in Hiroshima because I wanted the manual 6sp. When I take it to some car washes, the kid gets in the car to move it and can’t, so the boss has to come over and move it. Then the boss points to me and teases his employee about “that girl” who can do it! My Corvette and all the other cars I’ve owned have been manuals. Save the Manuals!

I consider my standard transmission as part of the theft deterrence system. None of the thieves today know how to shift gears - It isn’t taught in prison. They just move on to a paddle-shifter with no left pedal.

Learned with a stick on the steering column, aka - Christmas Tree.

I learnt to drive (on private farm roads) in a 1934 Austin 7 Ruby when I was 7 years old. It had a three speed floor shift, and Reverse was directly opposite Third in the gate, with little or no detent between them. Years later, when my older brother owned the car, he wrecked the gearbox by trying to change up from Third into Fourth, which was, of course, Reverse. The car juddered to a halt with the engine stalled, and a huge pool of oil and broken bits of gearbox on the road underneath. I have taught my wife and both of my daughters to drive in stick shift cars, and now drive both an automatic Range Rover Classic at the weekends and a five speed floor shift Seat Ibiza saloon as my daily driver.

I had a 1959 Chevrolet Brookwood 6 cylinder, three on the tree. I upgraded it by installing a 283 V8 with a two speed Powerglide transmission, still operated from the tree. All this whilst a Ford Student Apprentice at University. Wish I still had that Gull-Wing, it would be worth a fortune by now, but it was stolen and totalled, for which I received the princely insurance payout of £150.

I learned to drive a 1966 Corvair with a 110 HP engine and a 4 speed in 1973. A little bit of a difficult car to get rolling, quite a bit of technique required to zip around briskly in the mountains. I still have the 1965 Corsa with the 140 HP engine and 4 speed I bought to replace it in 1978.

I’ve continuously had a stick as my driver. My current car is a 2015 VW Passat diesel with a 6 speed. That’s interesting because of the diesel power band but I can get 50 MPG on the highway. I’ve taught 3 kids, one grandson and soon a grand daughter how to drive a stick. My wife’s first car was also a stick. Her dad was a truck driver. I did replace a couple of clutches after the younguns learned how to drive a stick.

Now, my technique to teach them how to get rolling is to go to a parking lot and get the car rolling without touching the gas to get the feel of the clutch. This after my son nearly did permanent damage to my spine and trashed clutch #1.

I think having a clutch keeps you in better touch with what the car is doing and overall makes you a better driver. Yes, traffic is a bad place for a clutch but you can get through it. I plan to drive my Corvair to San Diego next year so I’m practicing in LA area traffic now. That’s the reliably worst traffic I’ve seen.

My left knee and right shoulder still work OK, and I intend to keep driving theft resistant sticks for the foreseeable future, making my small contribution to keeping them around.

My “alternative” vehicle is not electric powered. It’s just an alternative to my other cars that have automatic transmissions. My 1979 Corvette is my only car with a stick. Ordered the car new with a 4 speed, then in 1987 installed a Doug Nash 5 speed and a matching Hurst shifter. Best mod I ever did to that car.

3, 4, or 5 speeds are easy but a good start. Master a 9, 10, 13 ( my favourite) or 18 speed and you own the world. How about a 2 stick with main and auxiliary transmissions, shifting both at the same time? Driving has become less complicated and somewhat boring with an automatic.

Where did you find a C8 with a manual transmission? Now such beast! Dual clutch automatic only

If you want win drag races, get an auto. If you want to enjoy the experience of driving, get a manual. Add an angry V8, forced induction, drop top even better!!! I take my boot off my broken left ankle, to drive my 550hp C6 vert with a heavy aftermarket clutch. It hurts a little.

Everytime I get in the driver seat, look down at this gorgeous Hurst/Tremec combo, my palms begin to salivate at the feast thats about to come.
Long live the stick!

Well my first car in 1969 was my father’s 1968 Cougar which was, strike that, is an automatic. I still have that car and it will never go anywhere. However, my father got a silver 1973 911E Targa as a company car and he was leaving for a 3 week trip to Europe with my mother. My eyes go wide but I don’t know how to drive a stick. So while down at SDSU I had someone I know show me how on his 1972 Capri which went fine. Note Capri and Porsche not the same especially with one week training.

I then come home to the Bay Area and take the Porsche out. Actually very, very stupid since it is a company car. Things go well and I have other Porsche drivers flash their headlights at me while driving. Then I met the hill. Driving up 1st Street to Harrison so I could get on the Bay Bridge. Why I stopped in the City I don’t know. I got a red light at the top three straight times and I rolled all the way back down the hill three straight times. A Sunday and no other cars around. Fourth time I drove slowly up and timed the light. My two daily drivers are both sticks, I have since long learned about better clutch/gas coordination and how to use the emergency brake when needed. San Francisco, when there, is no problem anymore.

You’ve grossly misread my post.

-manual transmissions wouldn’t need to be saved if the marketplace wasn’t squeezing them out (something you acknowledge well in a different post you made). Sure bump starting a manual is an advantage --one shouldn’t be needing to regularly do that… [a nice perk of stick sure, not a true reason for it to exist]

-archaic driving features can be fun for some (tiller steering) or many (stick shift). We have people predicting that holding the steering wheel is going to become archaic (yuck in my view --the marketplace may well love that idea). The fact that some find them fun is the best reason for them to still exist as it is a driving reason for the vehicle. Many posting here (not unexpected) like the feel of driving stick which is great, since many older cars are stick. One can prefer stick sure but it doesn’t mean automatic vehicles aren’t fun to own/drive --but reading the article and posts before mine that bias (automatic = bad) was pretty heavy. If I was in charge of Ford you would still be able to buy stick shift manual F150 (and sedans…). I’m not anti-stick, I have just looked around and seen that it is going extinct in newer vehicles in North America.

-calling me rude and tossing the word “retardation” around in the implied insult sense is uncalled for. Saying I am “unkind” (to old men???) is bizarre and silly. A person that can drive a Model T with ignition advance (or any of the more-complicated earlier brass era vehicles) deserves respect, but they shouldn’t assume everyone else wants that experience. The posters that have said “stick isn’t hard” and have posted their teaching methods are bang on because it has to be demystified as it moves further into “lost art” territory.

Spot on! I get so tired of hearing true enthusiasts only drive stick. I’ve been driving auto and or dual clutch for a while now, as I have knee, shoulder, and elbow issues, but I’ve loved just about anything with wheels since I was a toddler, and I even do the majority of wrenching on my vehicles. I believe when it hit me that those people were wrong, was when I heard Jeremy Clarkson ask: Why would you choose to get up and go to your TV ever time you want to change the channel…when you can use the remote? I don’t have a problem with stick, or the people who choose to drive them…so why do they have a problem with me or my choices. As a side note, now that I am semi-retired, and live in a more rural area, I am thinking about adding a manual to the stable.