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  1. #1
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    Why is the ability to drive a manual transmission such a big deal?

    Seriously. Stick shift threads get so heated. Is it an affront to one's manhood to not desire 3 pedals in your car on a daily basis? Why is this seemingly nonsensical issue such a big hairy deal?
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  2. #2
    tka
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    It isn't. Most people who spout-off on not being a true driver/man/enthusiast don't know crap about driving a manual. They do it to try to show how much better they are then the rest. Simple elitism at work. Most of them should be driving an automatic or a dual-clutch.

    FWIW I drive a manual daily, in fact 5 of my 6 vehicles are manuals including a crash box. I drive them because I enjoy it, not because it makes me better than others. My next vehicle will likely be a dual-clutch transmission (or no transmission if my wife gets her way.) Not a big deal in my book, and most new vehicles with a dual-clutch transmission actually outperform the manual in both acceleration AND mpg.

  3. #3
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    Honestly, these days, it's more a cultural/badge of honor type thing. Back in the day, manuals were far more efficient and quicker to shift than slushboxes... Yes, I drive a manual (in DC and Baltimore rush hour traffic no less). Slushboxes today are far quicker and more efficient than they used to be, so from a performance perspective, they actually perform better (well those with hydraulic dual or multi clutches, torque convertors still have a significant loss in efficiency).

    One of the main reasons, is that with a manual, you are actually still driving the vehicle, versus just steering the vehicle. My previous car was an AMG C63 with a 7 speed factory modified automatic (the standard Mercedes 7 speed would implode under the 450hp/500lbs+ of torque the M156 engine put out). I would always switch it to manual mode and used the flappy paddles.. So flappy paddles are not necessarily bad, but it depends on the transmission.. paddles on a freaking CVT is an insult as they have shift points, but no actual gears... I hate CVTs.....

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    I don't care one way or another about manual or automatic tranny......but disc brakes are horrible and just marketing.

  5. #5
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    ... Yes, I drive a manual (in DC and Baltimore rush hour traffic no less)......
    I don't miss calf cramps at 3pm because 295 is backed up from RFK to BWI...thank God for telework!

  7. #7
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    Not sure what you're trying to say with what appears to be multiple negatives. But it would seem to be a big hairy deal for you given you have brought it up.

    I drove sticks for >25 years before switching to a car that only came in auto. That said, many modern transmissions aren't what they used to be in years past. In older cars, I'd far prefer to drive a stick, as autos were way too sloppy/inefficient and the gears too widely spaced. But modern autos with 6-8 close spaced gears with torque lockup in most of those gears, and you'd need to be one heck of a good driver to keep up with a similarly stick shifted car. And that's ignoring fuel efficiency. And with manual boxes now having upwards of 7 gears, that's getting a little too tedious even for someone like me who doesn't mind sticks. Long story short, sticks are becoming functionally obsolete.

  8. #8
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    of the 17 cars I've owned, only 1 had an auto trans. hated it.

    rowing a 6-speed currently. I like the mechanical connection to what I'm operating.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RHankey View Post
    Not sure what you're trying to say with what appears to be multiple negatives. But it would seem to be a big hairy deal for you given you have brought it up.

    I drove sticks for >25 years before switching to a car that only came in auto. That said, many modern transmissions aren't what they used to be in years past. In older cars, I'd far prefer to drive a stick, as autos were way too sloppy/inefficient and the gears too widely spaced. But modern autos with 6-8 close spaced gears with torque lockup in most of those gears, and you'd need to be one heck of a good driver to keep up with a similarly stick shifted car. And that's ignoring fuel efficiency. And with manual boxes now having upwards of 7 gears, that's getting a little too tedious even for someone like me who doesn't mind sticks. Long story short, sticks are becoming functionally obsolete.
    Well, several examples come to mind. I know this is mostly internet blowhardism, but on every forum I go on, whenever a car thread comes up, one of the first questions that comes up is "Does it come in manual?" followed shortly thereafter by comments about slushboxes, how only "real" drivers can drive a stick and everyone else should stay off the road, or any number of other arguments that have been played out ad nauseum.

    In the real world, I worked as a valet for a little over a year, and the most common questions I got were about manuals, and "How the hell can you be a valet without being able to drive a stick shift?" Or, when asked about the coolest/priciest/most exotic cars that we came across, the immediate follow-up was "Was it a stick?" We had to sign a waiver saying we either could or could not drive a stick, due to some legal issues from several years prior, so we always had someone on staff who could drive a stick comfortably. But, the vast majority of sticks we got in were '88 Honda Civics (or similar pieces-of-crap). Any odd exotics or hi-performance cars we got in either had full-on automatics or flappy paddles, which for our intents and purposes, were considered automatics (IOW, everyone could drive them).

    The immediacy with which transmission type is brought up in any car discussion (often, IME, before horsepower, drivetrain, or any other aspects of the car), and the immediacy with which crass or disparaging remarks are made about automatics seems to lend itself to stick shifts being a pretty darn big deal.
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  10. #10
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    Because people start threads about the topic? I like driving manuals, but don't really care one way or the other for myself, and definitely don't care what other people drive.

  11. #11
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    It's hard to hold a beer between your legs and drive stick. All 3 of my household's vehicles are automatics for this reason.

  12. #12
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    For the most part, it's a badge of "performance" that a car has a manual transmission. The true "enthusiast" only wants that type of vehicle, and also wants the control vs. having a machine drive for them.

    Having read lots of car sites, I think the majority of it is just being a snob and having being part of an elitist club - oh you don't can't drive a stick? You don't get what it means to really drive.

    That said, a manual transmission does give a certain amount of additional control over a vehicle that's really not possible with an average automatic. You can put it in a specific gear and hold it there, or downshift to slow the vehicle. When holding gear around a corner it gives more and a different type of control vs. just braking. When exiting the corner, you also get a highly reproducible and more controllable acceleration performance. So yes there are real performance aspects to a manual.

    I learned to drive on a manual Isuzu Trooper and learned to love a manual. My parents did this some what strategically because it was a slow vehicle. The first car I bought myself was a manual and I loved shifting that car. However, I don't have one now because commuting in a manual on Long Island totally sucks. Also my wife has a condition where using a manual would be very difficult for her.

    My compromise to get a bit more performance is a Maxima with a paddle shifted CVT. Yes, this is someone counter-intuitive but it's a really good transmission that is not sluggish. Its 3perfect for daily commuting, but when put into manual mode it allow me to hold the revs and control speed via the engine much like with a manual. It's a pretty good compromise

  13. #13
    pmf
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    A manual transmission is great for driving in the snow. You can gear it so your wheels don't spin as easily. Manual transmission suck in heavy traffic areas -- like where I live. My Volvo V-70 had a manual transmission, and honestly, I don't miss it. We get snow here once in a while. Bad traffic every day.

    That said, everyone ought to at least know how to drive one. What if you get into a situation where the only vehicle available has a manual transmission?

  14. #14
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    It's not a big deal unless people make it a big deal. I happen to enjoy driving a manual transmission car and when I have a choice would pick an MT car over an AT car if all other things were equal. Do I have a problem with people who drive AT cars? No. Why would I? But when some of them look at me as if something is wrong with me because I like an MT car what am I supposed to think? Yes modern ATs are really good and some perform much better than MTs but I just like the whole clutch and shifting thing. If I was stuck in stop and go traffic every day maybe I'd feel differently.

    On a tangent - What I really don't like are continuously variable transmissions (CVT) even though they are arguably the best possible option from an efficiency perspective. I get why they are the rage but I just don't like driving a car with one except for those that are tuned to sound like a traditional transmission. And making a CVT shift like a traditional geared AT is silly but just about all makers do that to some extent now. I recall driving an early CVT car. Pulling away from a stop the engine would stick at around 3K RPM and the car would just speed up. The sense of acceleration with no change in RPM was very unnerving. But all of this is perception. New drivers have no such reason to necessarily associate RPM change with vehicle speed change.

    And for the record I have been called a retrogrouch in a bike store once. Just once. I think it was over my lack of enthusiasm for Zertz inserts many years ago.
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  15. #15
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    Well, There's Driving a Manual

    ....then there's driving a manual. Many can walk, but few can dance.

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  16. #16
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    I prefer an automatic. I've driven my share of manuals, in fact we still have one a 2006 Hyundai Tuscon, and I hate it. In stop and go traffic it sucks, try to text while driving and drinking a beer, it sucks. The only advantage I can think of anymore is the ability to push start a car, or spin the tires on an under-powered vehicle. Gas mileage is a wash nowadays. If I had a sportier car it might be fun to shift again, but driving fasts on tight twisty roads is harder when having to shift.

    My car has paddle shifters, and they are practically useless unless you're using them to hold a certain gear or maintain higher RPM for a drag race (haha).
    In any event, who cares what other people think anyway?
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  17. #17
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    Back in the day, automatics were very sloppy. You could never get a positive shift when you wanted it. After an eternity, I finally bought an automatic, two years ago. Most of the time I leave it in drive, but when I feel like it, I go through the eight gears in the manual mode.
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  18. #18
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    I'm a manual only die-hard. One day, I may be forced to change after manuals are no longer available in any vehicle, but I will probably skip autos and go straight to a direct-drive electric.

    In most ways, I don't care what other people want, but what other people want does impact me. My car choices get smaller and smaller every year because other people don't track my preferences and fewer and fewer companies offer them. Rental car places in the U.S. don't have them.

    Yes, I understand they are no longer the choice for all-out performance or fuel economy, but the difference is at the margin, and no automated transmission can replace the tactile aspects of a manual.

    I don't rag on people for not knowing or spout any sort of nonsense like you have to drive one to be a "real man." But I think it's a fun lost-art sort of skill that some people are missing out on by not having. Even more so arts like the heel-toe downshift.

  19. #19
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    Read an article recently stating that many car thieves skip stealing manual cars "because they don't know how to drive them". That's one positive I guess?

  20. #20
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    It's compensation. People only brag about manuals because they feel inferior due to an inability to fix a broken drive shaft with a hammer, anvil, and coal fired forge.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiQuaeQuod View Post
    It's compensation. People only brag about manuals because they feel inferior due to an inability to fix a broken drive shaft with a hammer, anvil, and coal fired forge.
    I fix mine with rubber bands and paperclips.

  22. #22
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    Nothing is sexier than a woman that can drive a stick... I taught my wife to drive one, mostly so she could autocross my car. I despise paddle shift cars as much as I despise electronic shifting bikes, I bet there is a strong correlation between those two. It follows the simpler is always better mantra.

    There are endless reasons a stick car is better, from snow traction to roll starting to being able to drive without a clutch if need be.
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  23. #23
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    That said, everyone ought to at least know how to drive one. What if you get into a situation where the only vehicle available has a manual transmission?

    Did you mean to post this in the Walking Dead thread?

    Because, short of being in a 3rd world country, I can't think of scenario where this is likely to happen.

  24. #24
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    Drove 5 cars about 500,000 miles with sticks, another 300,000 on 3 different auto's.

    I'll never go back to stick. My current Outback has a CVT and it works great, much better then the 4 spd auto on my older Forester. The OB gets much better mileage and part of that is the CVT, but the Subaru CVT's are generally well designed.

    I'm not sold on paddle shifters, mostly don't bother using them, though I did find the Forester was easier to drive in snow while using paddles, better engine control, or maybe a throwback to knowing how to control a manual car in snow by downshifting instead of braking.

  25. #25
    LWP
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    Real men drive three on the tree! Or something like that. I guess. I learned to drive with a manual transmission, the trucks I had to drive during an earlier career were all manual and I owned one personal truck that was manual. But outside of that one, any vehicles I buy for personal transportation are always automatic. I don't play racer boy when I drive (no, I'm not saying that's the only reason some people prefer manual), I don't even particularly enjoy driving... it's just a means of getting places when it's too far to reasonably walk or bike or I need to transport things or other people. So I don't care about any additional interaction between me and the vehicle. I had no idea any of it was being tallied on my man card.
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