Save the Manuals?

Experts are predicting that within 15 to 20 years manual-transmission cars might be "virtually extinct." This has inspired Eddie Alterman of Car and Driver magazine to launch a 'Save the Manuals' campaign.

I drive a stick shift, but for one reason only — because it was the cheapest car on the lot (among the cars I was willing to consider). I concede there are occasional times when driving a stick shift is more fun than an automatic, but when I get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, which happens frequently in the San Diego area, I hate having a stick shift. So when the time comes that I need to buy a new car, if an automatic is the cheapest option, I'm more than happy to say goodbye to manuals forever.
     Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 03, 2012
     Category: Transportation | Cars

Auto-shift transmissions encourage sloppy driving skills, IMO. In nearly 40 years on the road I've had one automatic trans automobile in my stable. I never felt that I had any real control over the car as I did when driving the others. There's something about having the throttle connected directly to the road through steel gears and a clutch that gives me that feeling.

And I drove my mother crazy (no pun intended) when I drove her auto-shift car with one foot on the brake and one on the gas.
Posted by KDP on 08/03/12 at 11:36 AM
Out of the 11 cars I've owned only 3 have been straight automatics. 7 have been manual transmissions and our VW Golf has a digital transmission (DSG) which can either be allowed to "do it's own thing" or can be switched to manual. The best of both worlds and I don't have to mess with a clutch.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/03/12 at 12:05 PM
I prefer a manual, but my wife can't drive one, so we have an automatic. Honda Accords don't have an option for a manual, so far as I know.

Most people in Europe drive manuals. In fact, the UK has two grades of Driver's Licence: type A, which allows you to drive any car, and type B, which allows you to drive automatics, or acts as a learner's permit for a manual.

KDP, the linkage from the pedal to the road is gone in my Honda Accord. It has throttle by wire, which means that the gas pedal position implies speed, as well as acceleration. If I downshift the auto box, but leave my right foot still, the car changes down, but does not change road speed. I miss engine braking...
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 08/03/12 at 12:11 PM
@Scottie: I don't have that trouble with the DSG transmission in the VW. It will NOT let me blow the engine and will downshift to 1st if I come to a halt but I can use the gears to break. My only complaint is that it's a bit sluggish but, then again, it's not built for racing.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/03/12 at 12:39 PM
I LOVE manuals. I was teaching my daughter and she broke down into tears!! I love down shifting in heavy traffic. It keeps people from riding my bumper. Not only are they cheaper to buy but they also weigh less to save gas!
Posted by MNIcelady on 08/03/12 at 01:28 PM
Of the 27 cars I've owned, most were automatics, but I always preferred the manuals, had 9 of them. Favorite was a '88 Ford Festiva, cuz I could zip that little thing in and out of anywhere. Sold it to my brother for his daughter in college when I went to Germany once, and could only take the family car. Then bought it back from him when I returned, and she graduated, so actually owned the same car twice. HOWEVER, when I was 18 I had an ice cream truck route one summer, and had to drive a truck with a 3-speed manual shift on the steering column, and which required double-clutching. One place on my route required me to go up a short, steep hill with a stop sign at the top. It used to take 6-7 tries to get the damned thing going again and over the hump without stalling. Biggest pain in the a$$ ever. But I'll go with this guy - save the manuals!
Posted by done on 08/03/12 at 03:39 PM
CannyScot, I own three aircooled VW's and the throttle pedal on those are connected to the carburetor (remember those?)by a real steel wire. I just bought a three y.o. base model Ford Ranger with a manual trans but the throttle is the modern fly-by-wire type. I had to make a concession somewhere.
Posted by KDP on 08/03/12 at 04:29 PM
How about a '39 Plymouth for "direct linkage"? My #1. The love of my life, however was my '73 BMW 2002, especially after I got done doing a bit of "work" on it.

Today, however, I'll take my DSG equipped VW.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/03/12 at 05:26 PM
You can't push start an automatic.
Posted by BHicks on 08/03/12 at 06:48 PM
LoL! Actually, you can - but the pushing party has to run really, REALLY FAST!! :ahhh:
Posted by done on 08/03/12 at 07:39 PM
I have driven both, much prefer the manual for control and gas mileage. And you can't pop the clutch and slow down without hitting the brakes in an automatic. You can't downshift down a steep grade in an automatic. And when it come time for repairs, a clutch is a lot cheaper to rebuild than an automatic.
Posted by Baughbe on 08/03/12 at 09:25 PM
You can most certainly downshift to control speed in an automatic. Having driven both manual and automatic both up and down mountains on a regular basis for the past 24 years I much prefer the control I have in a quality automatic especially going up and down steep grades. It just takes knowing what you are doing. As far as gas mileage, I can get just as good gas mileage in my automatic going up and down mountains as my husband can get in the same car on the interstate.
Posted by Blissfully Lost on 08/03/12 at 10:55 PM
I can drive a stick, but not very well. Out of practice I guess because we had a cut down old bug 'dune buggy when I was a teen. I loved driving that 4 speed. I have only ever owned automatics and would never buy anything else myself.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/03/12 at 11:32 PM
I found the standard transmissions saved on gas and gave better control, but when the idle speed dropped so that you had to keep your foot on the gas at all times (such as with the cheap vehicles I could afford), that made for real fun going up icy slopes in stop-and-go traffice.

I'm getting too old for that.
Posted by Harvey on 08/04/12 at 01:20 AM
I was working about 15 miles into a back woods road with another 50 miles of rarely used gravel road to get out. The fuel filter plugged up and I had no tools. The truck would idle, but the motor would die with even a bit of throttle. It was a 4x4 with a manual transmission and a powerful engine. On the bush road, bull low in low range idle got me out.
Posted by BMN on 08/05/12 at 01:06 AM
A DSG is not a manual transmission, it only fakes to be. Put it in three and try to drive away from standstill; won't let you. Btw, automatics use 10% more gasoline, so don't ever say you're going green.
Posted by Ed on 08/12/12 at 06:47 PM
Who said anything about going green and why would I want to "drive away" in 3rd? I didn't try that with my '39 Plymouth, my '73 BMW, or the Datsun, or two Toyotas. (The DKW had enough trouble just driving away [and that was down hill!])
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/13/12 at 01:32 AM
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